Holiday Traditions

As 2017 comes to a close, our entire team is counting our blessings for such a marvelous year and looking forward to the adventures to come in 2018. In the next few weeks, Brittany, Becca and I will all take time off to spend time with our families, to rest, and to recharge. Our end of the year time off ritual is a bit like when kids give their favorite toy a rest. We take our engine batteries out, put them on the charger, dust off the other parts and get ready for the long exciting journey to come after the ball drops at the end of 2017.  Not going to lie, I’m particularly looking forward to this break after missing my annual beach trip.

Becca, Brittany and I will each have a bit different holiday celebration, but here is a peek into some of the things we’ll be enjoying: our favorite holiday traditions.

From Brittany:

First tradition is Black Friday-ing... I know it's technically more traditionally a Thanksgiving activity BUT it's something that my family does every year and when we get a lot of our Christmas presents. We all come together, map out where we are going to go and when, tag team, and just have a really great time. I've been going since I was a little girl and it just wouldn't feel like the Christmas season without it. 

Finding a yearly ornament -- My mom and I get an ornament for every year. She started this when I was born and it's something that we've both kept up with! We always try to get one that represents something that happened that year -- moving into a new house, getting a cat, graduation from school, etc. Last year my mom and I watched all the seasons of Gilmore Girls together (we call ourselves the Garner Girls because the similarities are so uncanny) and as a result our 2016 ornament said "Where you lead, I will follow."

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Opening a Christmas Eve present! We always open a single present on Christmas Eve, no matter what. :) We spend Christmas Eve cooking and baking and getting ready for Christmas. Afterwards we sit down in the living room around the tree, eat some ‪Dewey's Sugar Cake and pick a present to open that night! 

From Becca:

Jarrod's family has a Christmas Eve talent show every year. All our family members are required to share a talent with the rest of the family on Christmas Eve. This family tradition comes from early years after the great depression when money for gifts was scarce and everyone would gift their talent instead. It always makes for an interesting and festive evening together! 

My family opens stockings first thing Christmas morning before sitting down to a big breakfast together. We don't open the rest of our gifts until after breakfast - though we do always open one gift on Christmas Eve (almost always a pair of pajamas, a robe, or comfy slippers!)

From Me:

The tree goes up in my house the day after Thanksgiving and I decorate that weekend!  Holiday decorations bring out the best of traditions in my house. Jack’s grandmother owned a jewelry store so each year, he would get a silver bell engraved with the year.  They date all the way up until 1996, when she passed away.  When Jack and I first started dating, I picked the tradition back up and each year I get a new bell engraved with the year and J+B.  The bells are all displayed on one of his grandmother’s silver trays on our living room coffee table.  My father started a similar tradition for my family.  Each year, he buys the Hallmark ornament for daughter, son, mother and father.   Last year my mother finally boxes up my ornaments and passed them down to me.  My dad is still carrying on the tradition and is now getting one extra for his new granddaughter.

On December 4th, my grandmother used to call my brother and I to tell us to leave our shoes out before we went to sleep. December 5th is St. Nicolas day and leaving your shoes out is an old Polish tradition.  My grandmother would sneak over (or have my parents sneak) and leave money in our shoes.  When we were little, we would use the money to go shopping with grandma to buy treats and gifts for our parents.  My grandma still carries on this fun Polish tradition with her great, great grandchildren!

Christmas Eve mass is unlike any other mass of the year.  The music, the flowers on the altar and the pews packed full of people.   The joyous celebration makes you almost forget how cold it is outside!   After evening mass, our family tradition is to open stockings.  These fun little mini gifts are the best teaser before bed.  We aren’t allowed to touch a single present until Christmas morning!

We’d love to hear about some of your favorite holiday traditions!  What are they?

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season!

Betsy