Our Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions are great, aren’t they? Every year I look forward to singing familiar Christmas carols, decorating the tree, and watching the magic in my kids’ eyes as they wonder how Santa got all those presents in the house! My family observes the usual Christmas traditions, and a few other things that make our Christmastime special to us.

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One tradition that both of our mothers did every year, as I do now, is bake Christmas cookies. While of course you can bake cookies any time of the year, there’s something special about doing it in December. Here’s a guest post I wrote on Portland Mom’s Blog about my Christmas Cookie repertoire. Christmas cookies are perfect for sharing with friends, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else who is willing and able to eat delectable baked goods.

Another popular tradition we follow is Santa. Nowadays there’s a lot of pushback against the tradition of telling your kids a large strange old man descends your non-existant chimney, and I kinda get it. But I can’t imagine not having this tradition during Christmas. Watching and waiting for Santa was such a precious memory when I was little. Nowadays, we sometimes visit Santa when he comes to the fire station near our house, but regardless, he always leaves each of us a present (and one or two for the family as a whole), plus he fills our stockings with goodies. The kids eagerly look forward to his visit. (My oldest has asked a few times if he’s real, but unfortunately whenever she’s asked, her siblings are around…so I tell her to ask me again later, which she never seems to remember to do.)

Now, my favorite tradition of all. Every year we wrap up a box of goodies and tie a tag on it that says, “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL SUNDOWN ON CHRISTMAS EVE.” Inside the box lies new (pre-washed) pajamas, mugs with hot cocoa packets and marshmallows, reindeer antlers, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” DVD, our special “The First Christmas” storybook, three tickets to the Christmas Lights Express (more on that later), and bags of “reindeer chow” (a.k.a. Crunch n’ Munch). Even though it’s basically the same items every year, they’ve always been so surprised and excited when it’s opened.


They put on their new PJ’s, get a mug of hot cocoa, and watch Linus read from the book of Luke. Then they grab their23818766741_dbb842b293_o reindeer chow and tickets and board the Christmas Lights Express, which is just our Honda Odyssey with any rear-facing seats turned around for the toddlers. We merrily drive all over town with no other goal but to see the decorated homes and listen to Christmas songs playing over the radio. The kids munch on their chow and chatter about the different lights. When we’ve toured enough (or when someone has to use the bathroom, which is typical!), we come home, read our book about the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and tuck the kids into bed. They love it.

On Christmas morning, we let the kids open up whatever is in their stockings while we make breakfast. A bit later, their grandparents (and other local family) stop by so we can open up all of our presents. It’s one part fun and two parts crazy.


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