Earlier this week we shared a collection of our employees’ favorite Christmas Eve holiday traditions. Today, we add to that collection. Unlike our Thanksgiving blog, where the answers ran the gamut, the answers to this month’s blog topic were far more traditional – like picking and decorating the perfect Christmas tree, cookie baking, singing Christmas carols, and although no one referenced chestnuts roasting over an open fire, they did reference hanging the stockings by the chimney with care….
Two of my favorite submissions came from Bellalinda and Sandy.
For Bellalinda, the holiday season begins on Black Friday, not because she’s a shopper – it’s when she and her family celebrate Christmas number one with her son who is in the U.S. Marine Corps, currently stationed in North Carolina, and his family. “On Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving, then on Friday we begin with our Christmas traditions – we have our tree up, house decorated and gifts are ready to be opened. This has been our tradition for 18 years now, missing only two “Christmas Black Fridays” while our son served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hope to can continue this tradition for many years to come and hope that our children will carry the tradition on as well.”
Not all traditions are “old.” This year Sandy and her family will start a new family tradition after her father passed away in 2011. “We recently received a mailing titled ‘Tinsel and Tears,’ with a suggestion of a holiday memorial following the death of a loved one. Take a holiday wreath, place four candles in or around it, and light them – they represent grief, courage, memories and love.”
For many of our employees, tradition involves the Christmas tree….
Jane and her family decorate their tree on Thanksgiving – the same day they prepared their holiday cards! (WOW! Talk about being organized!) While Wanda and her family love to go to the tree farm to look for the “perfect” tree…
Claudia’s favorite tradition is decorating the tree with her kids. “My kids cluster everything near the bottom….the memories we are making help solidify our little family unit and will, I hope leave a warm and lasting impression on their hearts.”
Cookie baking topped the list for Stephanie and Amy. For Amy, and the other women in her family, it’s a marathon day of baking sand tarts! “Our cookie decorating is pretty serious – you almost need a degree in decorating! It’s also gotten more chaotic over the years with the addition of six ‘helpful’ grandkids ages 5, 4, 3, 3, 2 and 1!”
Taryn and her family enjoy their annual “Santa Run” – a scavenger hunt for the “special” present. “The tradition started at my grandmother’s and has continued with my parents for their grandchildren. Each year Santa leaves a letter in the tree giving the grandchildren a clue as to where in the house they will find their “special” present. At the end of the letter Santa says “HO, HO, HO and GO, GO, GO” and kids start running throughout the house. A few minutes later we hear screams of excitement! I have special memories of my Santa Run days and now my kids are having those same experiences.”
Carmen and her family enjoy the tradition of “sitting around and singing a few of the ‘feel good’ Christmas songs” and Stephanie and her boys put food in the yard for the reindeer to eat while Santa’s busy delivering presents. Bonnie admits to enjoying an annual sister’s day shopping trip (that also includes mom and lunch!) Sandy and her husband make homemade ice cream on Christmas Day. Leigh – much to the chagrin of her family – “loves to shake, squeeze, sniff and generally snoop until I can guess what’s in the box. My family groans at how long it takes me to open gifts, but hey, it’s not what’s in the box that really matters. It’s all about having fun and spending time together.” Cheryl and her extended family spend Christmas afternoon playing a “sleep-deprived and often hilarious game of Trivial Pursuit. The game continues until there’s a winner… or dinner is ready.”
Unique gift giving ideas – Yankee Swap and the $1 gift!
Deanna says, “For the Yankee swap, everyone brings a random gift within a pre-set budget (we do $25). Then each participant picks a number out of a bowl. Number one gets to pick any gift they want out of the pile. Then number two picks a gift and gets to decide if they want to keep it or steal the gift from number one. This continues for each number and each person can take any gift from any of the previous numbers. Trades are allowed at the end!
The $1 gift is much like the Yankee Swap – except for the budget. Gifts can cost no more than – one dollar! Lauren said, “Every year on Christmas Eve, 16 of us on my mom’s side of the family exchange $1 gifts. Everyone buys something for $1, wraps it creatively to entice the other participants, and we place them all on a central table. Everyone picks a number from 1-16 and take turns picking a gift off the table. After the first person selects their gift, the next person can steal it from them or pick a new one. This takes quite a while, and many of us get delight in “stealing the joy” from each other. We’ve done this now for almost 20 years, so some gifts show up year after year. After that many years, we’ve had to get VERY creative in coming up with a new $1 offering each year. “
Whatever your tradition may be this holiday season – new or old – enjoy yourself and those around you! In the meantime, let us know your own favorite tradition in the Comments section below.