Nostalgia Story: Christmas

Christmas is the one holiday that almost every family who celebrates has traditions. Our family traditions haven't changed much, but it's always still such a magical holiday even as an adult.

When we were younger, I remember coming home from school in November to my entire house being decorated for Christmas. My mom would spend the entire day decorating. From November to December I would watch my mom bake batch after batch of cookies; peanut butter, peanut butter blossom, chocolate chip, raisin, orange cookies, frosted sugar cookies, and no-bake cookies. She would put them in Ziplock bags and then in a large Tupperware container, and place them out on our covered porch on top of our freezer to keep them cold and away from us so we wouldn't eat them all before Christmas.

We would watch Christmas movie classics through out the season, back when they showed all of them on television, usually only once. There were rarely repeats of movies. If you wanted to watch Rudolph, you had to catch it the one time it was. Some of my favorites were Rudolph of course, Frosty, Nester the Long Eared Donkey, Jack Frost, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Annabelle's Wish, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa and the Three Bears, Nick and Noel, and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

On Christmas Eve, we would pack gifts into our vehicle and go to my dad's parent's house. Our grandparents always went way overboard with gifts even when grandma said she cut back. The room they had the Christmas tree in had a path to walk through from the kitchen into that (the computer) room, then into the living room. The rest of the room was piles upon piles of gifts. We would order Pizza Hut and chow down on snacks and pizza pretty much all night long, and us kids would be anxious to open gifts. For the most part, we all got the same things. My cousin Brandi and I typically got the same things but in different colors, and Jesse, Kevin, and Adam would get the same things in different colors. My grandma is the one who bought Brandi and I our first cell phones. She bought us our Super Nintendos, too. We got clothes out the wahzoo because she was the manager of our local Fashion Bug. We also got huge makeup baskets, and one year she sent us on a scavenger hunt through the house and up to the garage to find the vanity desks she bought us.

Grandma always bought so many gifts and hid them through the house, to the point where she would still be finding Christmas gifts she bought clear into June. So basically, when it came to my grandma, Christmas was all year long.

On Christmas morning, we would wake up to the Christmas lights on and sometimes Christmas music playing. Mom would make us eat breakfast before we could open gifts. That never worked out. She would usually give up and just let us open our stockings until dad got up. Once dad was awake we could dive into our gifts. I remember a lot of the gifts I got for Christmas growing up including a snowboard, magic set, fish tank, a Barbie house, and books. I got lots of books, of course.

Once gifts were all opened and wrapping paper cleaned up, we were off to play with our new toys and get dressed and ready for the day while mom started Christmas dinner and dad watched television. My mom's parents would come for dinner and sometimes my uncles and aunt as well. So we usually had a full house, which I always loved.  We always left all of our gifts under the tree until mom took the decorations down. I don't really recall the reason. Probably so we could show family and friends what we got for Christmas, but I remember closer to New Years mom would get frustrated with the mess and we would be toting everything to our rooms.

Our traditions now that I'm an adult are pretty much the same. Although our traditions are vastly different from my husbands growing up. He didn't really have traditions. His mother waited until Christmas eve night to put up and decorate their tree and it usually came down that night from what she told me. I don't recall ever hearing of any family dinners or festivities that I'm aware of. I know that my husband enjoys our traditions now, and enjoys the togetherness of the season, which is why we continue to do it. It warms my heart that these are things my children will remember, but also that my husband now feels he's apart of something so important and family oriented.

Christmas week, we do a gift exchange with my brother and his fiance. It's always just us and we really enjoy spending time with them. The kids also enjoy it.

Christmas Eve I host dinner and gift exchange with my in-laws at our home. Everyone arrives around 6 or 7 and we eat and then open gifts. I will usually make a roast dinner, but in the past we have had lasagna or a ham dinner. I also usually have holiday punch and a large table of assorted homemade cookies and a cheeseball and crackers. Last year I did a gingerbread scavenger hunt for the kiddos, with a Christmas themed prize afterwards that helped transition them into opening their gifts. Once everyone leaves, and the kiddos are in bed, I clean up the aftermath while I wait for the kids to fall asleep. Once they are asleep, we haul out gifts, do the cookies and milk thing, and go to bed, because we know they will have us up at the crack of dawn.

On Christmas morning, I set my alarm to get me up around 3am or 4am so I can turn all the Christmas lights on and put Christmas music on. There's something magical about waking up to not only gifts under the tree that Santa left, but that he turned on all the Christmas lights and turned on Christmas music as well. That's one thing I remember the most as a child, so I kept up that tradition as an adult with my own children.

Just as we did, my children are allowed to open their stockings until daddy gets up and has his coffee. Then they can dive into the gifts. For quite a few years now, we have went to either my grandma's or my mom's house for Christmas. One year we even went to my aunt's new house. Last year was my first year doing the Christmas dinner, and now it's a tradition for that as well. As my grandma and mom get older, I just naturally took over the dinner. I feel it's time for them to enjoy the holiday without all the work, and I love hosting dinners. We enjoy it, plus the kids get to stay in their pajamas and play for as long as they want instead of having to get ready and leave the house shortly after opening gifts. We watch the Disney Christmas Parade and drink hot cocoa. I restock the cookie table for everyone to snack on through out the day, and we usually have dinner around 3. Yes, we eat dinner extremely early. I don't know why, that's just how we've always done things.

At the end of the day, after everyone has left and the kiddos are in bed, my husband and I sit with only the glow of the Christmas lights, and watch a Christmas movie. I'm always sad when Christmas ends. My favorite part of the entire season is spending time with family, and while I get to do that all year long with all the get togethers and dinners we have, there's just something extra special about spending time with family during Christmas.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions from your childhood? Do you carry those traditions over as an adult, or do you have new ones? Let me know in the comments below. 


  1. Aw, this is such a beautiful post! Sounds like you're a busy bee through the Christmas season, but it's all worth it when you see smiles on everyones faces and can finally put your feet up at the end... well, kinda! hehe :) Great post Darling xo


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