Our Christmas Traditions

matching-family-christmas-pajamas

So I’m interested in learning about your family’s Christmas traditions. I’ll begin by suggesting a possible outline to follow, then share my own traditions, and then ask you to share yours with us.

Outline of Traditions:

  1. Community Events.
  2. Church services (LDS and others).
  3. Family (i.e., do you do it as just your own family,  or is your family close enough to gather, and if so, who hosts what?)
  4. Trees (how early do you put it up, when do you take it down, artificial or real, if real where do you get it, what kind of decorations do you put up, etc.).
  5. Do you exchange gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
  6. Presents (do you believe in lists or surprises? Are you minimalists or break the bank types? Do you let the kids open a single gift on Christmas Eve to help take the edge off the anticipation? Do the presents magically all appear on Christmas morning, or are they all wrapped and under the tree in advance, or is a special Santa gift unwrapped under the tree in the morning, or something else?)
  7. Stockings (do you do stockings? Whose responsibility is it to fill them? What kinds of trinkets do you favor?)
  8. Music (what is some of your favorite Christmas music to listen to?)
  9. Food (what are your special food traditions for Christmas Eve and Day?)
  10. Potpourri (share anything else you would like about your celebration)

Here are my answers to get you started:

  1. Those of you who are Facebook friends with me and saw my Christmas letter there know I have a series of community events I look forward to each December. These include: (a) Songs of Good Cheer (a public carol singing party for charity at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago), (b) a sing-along Messiah, (c) Julbord at Tre Kronor in Chicago (a Swedish restaurant), (d) the holiday double feature (White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life) at the Music Box, an historic, vintage movie theater dating to 1929 in Chicago, and (e) Christmas Eve dinner at Yu’s Mandarin (shades of A Christmas Story).
  2. Mormons don’t hold special Christmas services, so when Christmas happens to fall on a Sunday, as it does this year, that’s sort of a test as to how we should do it. I remember one year the Stake mandated that the full block be held, and my rebel bishop bucked the leadership and we just had a special Christmas program for sacrament meeting and went home. (That kind of spine is rare among bishops, but he didn’t suffer for his backbone, as he was later called as a mission and then a temple president. I’m pleased to report that my ward this year is not doing the block but just a special Christmas sacrament meeting.) My in-laws are Lutheran, and so some years I’ve attended Lutheran services (including midnight services on Christmas Eve), which frankly put ours to shame.
  3. We do the nuclear family Christmas Eve and morning, but the extended family assembles Christmas afternoon. We used to do this in my in-laws’ house, but that house is being sold, so we’re going to host it in our home this year.
  4. We get a real tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We used to go to a nursery, but when it closed we started getting one at Home Depot. I favor Fraser firs. We use colored lights, and our decorations are not the typical balls but little toys or mementos from our children’s lives. I usually take it down New Year’s day.
  5. We’re Christmas day people.
  6. We do lists. When the kids were young we let them open one present Christmas Eve (which we got to pick–almost always new pajamas, robes or slippers or something like that). Wrapped gifts are under the tree well in advance. When the kids were young there would be an unwrapped Santa gift (their most expensive item) under the tree on Christmas morning, but now that they’re adults we no longer do that.
  7. We still do stockings. My wife does it, and she doesn’t bother filling her own, which inevitably leads to jokes about how she must have been a bad girl this year. There will usually be an orange in the toe, and socks and candy (gold coins and such) or various trinkets.
  8. I love Christmas music and will listen to pretty much anything. My personal taste tends toward sacred art music, especially of the Baroque. We have a radio station in Chicago that goes to an all Christmas music format in late November, and I’ve been listening to that in the car.
  9. As mentioned above, we do Yu’s Mandarin Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we have a family luncheon featuring Swedish sausage and meatballs (as a nod to my wife’s Swedish heritage).

OK, now it’s your turn. Tell us how you do Christmas.

Comments

  1. Princess Charlie says:

    2. I married into a Lutheran family. Christmas Eve has a candlelit church service, though the location of that can vary depending on which set of parents we’re visiting, or if my husband’s one of the musicians.
    3. Family is far-flung. Last year we had a newborn, so didn’t travel. Otherwise, we alternate parents, and whichever siblings are around join in.
    4. Tree is always fake, only up for December. We get a new ornament each year. Kiddo now gets one too. This year, those are the only ornaments on the tree, because it has to be small enough to sit out of reach.
    5. Growing up, all gifts were done on Christmas day. Husband’s family does “Santa” gifts Christmas Eve, family gifts Christmas Day. So far, we play by the house rules.
    6. Both lists and surprises, though I buy most of the gifts, including the ones for myself. I tend to believe in spoiling for Christmas to the extent that I can come up with good ideas. Presents appear once they’ve gotten wrapped, which usually is within a few days of Christmas. My siblings and our spouses do name-from-a-hat gifting, with the assumption that everyone will also be buying for their own spouse/children/parents.
    7. Stockings are done, filled by Grandma. If it’s my mother, they usually include socks and underwear, often new earrings for the women, a CD, and a clementine in the toe. If it’s his mother, snacks, candy, puzzle books, dollar store toys, and a check, individually wrapped.
    8. Music is the biggest part of Christmas. Usually at least one member of the family is performing at least once. Christmas Eve at my parents’ house involves an around the piano carol-til-you-drop, always ending with “Silent Night.” I’m partial to brass, and not a big fan of pop.
    9. Jello salad for dessert on Christmas Eve. Crepes for breakfast Christmas morning.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Princess Charlie, perfect! Thanks for getting us started on the right foot, er, stocking…

  3. jlouielucero says:

    1. We work at the Boys and Girls Club and serve dinner and cleanup to kids 3-18. All the girls attend Kurt Bestor concert. We host a Christmas party at some point during December.
    2. Luckily our ward does Christmas program only. I love Christmas Mass when I can go.
    3. We rotate families visiting us for Christmas and do a big family party Christmas Eve day then more religious and personal Christmas Eve night with Christmas Day being relaxing.
    4. Real tree, kids earning money for mission cut them down and deliver. It’s amazing.
    5. Christmas Day open presents free for all craziness.
    6. We do 1 thing the kids ask for and a few surprises but we do not let grandparents or aunts/uncles give toys (books, clothes, or experience gifts only) but we all open one gift Christmas Eve.
    7. Yes to stockings with candy and toothbrushes and toothpaste. The irony.
    8. I’m a non Christmas music guy but my family loves it and is on non stop at the house.
    9. Christmas Day Prime Rib with creamed corn and mashed potatoes Lawry’s style.

  4. anitawells says:

    Fun post!
    6. Christmas pjs given the night before, and we do the nativity story and a 3 Nephi 1 reenactment complete with lights on and off and falling to the ground. In the morning, kids gather in parents’ room and walk downstairs together in age order, where we first gather at the tree and open our box that contains our gifts to baby Jesus (service/self-improvement things we’ve been working on all month). Then we move to another room to open stockings, and then we have breakfast (Lucky Charms). We don’t do Santa at our house, so we do three gifts a la wise men tradition (a book, a toy, something to wear; I chart purchases beforehand using a spreadsheet to try and keep it organized and fair, and try to achieve that “wow” moment with something for each child that feels special and exciting), and we open those and sibling gifts in order from youngest to oldest so that we can all admire and enjoy them. This orderly process takes awhile, and feels magical even without the Santa aspect. Later in the day, we open a family gift that the “camels” have left on the back porch, some kind of game or puzzle to look forward to in the afternoon.
    Now that our oldest two are in college, we started a tradition last year of having everyone present a charity on Christmas Eve that they will donate to (the younger ones use parental funds). We’re hoping they’ll continue with this as the years go on as their gift to us parents instead of stuff.

  5. 1. We have just two community events we attend during the Christmas season. The first is Journey to Bethlehem: a local church has set up an elaborate audience-participation reenactment of the journey to Bethlehem for the census, including all sorts of interesting information about the political/religious/social climate of the time. Each person in attendance receives a Hebrew name on a paper that they eventually must present to the tax collector. On the way, we meet various characters that share rumors of a messiah who will soon be born, see the angels visiting the shepherds, cower before belligerent Roman soldiers, tour the busy market, seek shelter at the inn, and finally end up at the stable where the newborn Jesus is resting under the watchful eyes of Mary and Joseph. It’s quite the production with live animals and costumes and plenty of hot cocoa and homemade cookies served in the fellowship hall afterwards. The second is Tuba Christmas because both my husband and my daughter play the tuba. In my opinion, “The Chipmunk Song” should only ever be played in bass clef.
    3. We live far away from all extended family and can never seem to get enough time off work to make a Christmas trip worthwhile, so we spend our holidays at home. In recent years, we’ve started inviting close friends over for Christmas Eve dinner, and I’m enjoying this new tradition.
    4. We’ve never had a fake tree. Our first couple Christmases was spent out of state with family, so we didn’t get a tree. Another Christmas, I saved valuable space by buying a very fragrant wreath from Sam’s Club and hanging it on the inside of our door with a few ornaments. My daughter gets a new ornament every year (to build up her own collection for when she’s grown), and most of our ornaments have a story behind them (which I’ve recently started to document). Tree usually goes up pretty close to Christmas — even as late as Christmas Eve.
    5. Pajamas on Christmas Eve and everything else on Christmas morning.
    6. Presents start collecting on the “juice” table in the living room as they arrive, but most of them don’t make it under the tree until Christmas Eve because we’re procrastinators when it comes to wrapping.
    7. We do stockings, which always include a favorite candy item, a silly item/toy, thank you cards, and a new toothbrush.
    8. I prefer instrumental and Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I spend every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas in fear that I will be trapped in line at a store that’s playing “Little Drummer Boy” over the sound system. So far, so good.
    9. We do raclette on Christmas Eve because it’s most conducive to dinner conversations with guests. My husband has bowed to my family’s tradition of waffles and ice cream for breakfast. Never say he never does anything nice for me. And, of course, there’s always Chex Mix.
    10. My husband reads the Christmas story from Luke 2 on Christmas Eve before bedtime. When my daughter was younger, she’d use the nativity set to act it out. One year, we had a new ceramic set that was a bit wobbly on the carpet. When he got to the line in verse 9 “and they were sore afraid”, the shepherd toppled over without being touched.

  6. 1. We have had season tickets to the symphony for years and they usually do some Christmas feature. Sometimes we take in a local production of Dickens. When I was young, my dad tuned-in to one of the old Christmas Carol films, usually Reginald Owen, or Alistar Sim. We watch the George C. Scott version or the musical “Scrooge” on Christmas Eve but it’s not a fixed thing.
    2. Christmas Sunday (like this year) is all music at our LDS service, and no other meetings happen on that day.
    3. Our children are pretty scattered, one lives near home, but since being married, he splits time at our house and at his in-laws (who are delightful people). The rest used to travel and spend the holidays with us, which meant Christmas Eve was a very big deal with Nativity reenactments, and Santa visits (our oldest son had a friend who did the professional Santa gig and he came to the house Christmas Eve–he was great). We had a son die at age 5 and we generally go up to his grave and sing some carols after dark on Christmas Eve. We started doing a quasi-middle-eastern menu for Christmas Eve dinner (candles, no electric lights). Simple bread, cheese, grape juice thing. It caught on with some of the kids and they do it in their homes now (or ours, if they are visiting). At this point, we sometimes have children at Christmas, sometimes not. Some show up on Christmas Day and exchange gifts if they aren’t living too far from us.
    4. We have two live trees and by tradition, we nearly always get them the day after Thanksgiving. My wife is a long time collector of Creche scenes from around the world (I think she has more than 500 or so) and Hallmark ornaments. Lately we’ve given up trying to put up much of those decorations. It takes nearly a month to set up some significant portion. We do some outdoor lights but it’s minimal.
    5. My mother’s family was split over Christmas Eve vs Christmas Day presents. Mom was pretty hard line on Christmas Day, and we do that too.
    6. I really like presents under the tree, but my wife vetoed that right from the start. They appeared on Christmas morning but wrapped mostly. Each child had a batch of unwrapped presents in a traditional location near the living room tree. When I was growing up, we had the presents under the tree, they gradually appeared in the last two weeks before the 25th. My brothers were a decade older and were professional present ferrets. They could open them and wrap them up without a trace. However, they never told me what I had. We do surprises mostly, but lists happen too. At this point, my wife usually buys her own thing, and then I cheat and get her something in secret. I encourage family to give me Amazon gift cards!
    7. We do stockings and when the kids were all home, it was a major thing. I wrapped small presents to put in—sometimes a small toy, sometimes something like chapstick, and so on. Fruit and candy went in. It was the teaser for early risers and “Santa” took them from the fireplace and put them outside their bedroom doors. That way they had something to explore at 5am while we slept a bit longer. As a kid I remember waking up at 3am and shaking with anticipation for the hour my father got up and put the lights on and invited us into the sanctuary.
    8. I listen to a variety of Christmas music, I enjoy the old English carols and I’m a fan of Alfred Burt. But anything really, from Christina Perry to the Tab Choir to Gospel to Country to the Beach Boys.
    9. Christmas Eve I mentioned above, Christmas Day I sometimes make cinnamon rolls or do waffles, but little kids are generally too stuffed with sweets to be too interested. If we have adults we sometimes grab a couple dozen donuts the day before. From the Christmas Eve thing, we have branched out with more exotic breads and cheeses and people snack on that during the day(s) after. Egg Nog. We do a pork roast thing sometime during the week between Christmas and New Years Eve which everyone loves.

  7. 3. Living far from extended family it’s just us. Over the past few years we’ve developed the tradition of staying in a yurt or cabin at a state or county park around Christmas time, most often including Christmas Eve. We take a string of lights to decorate the yurt.
    6. We are pretty minimal with gifts compared with my childhood. Being in the yurt helps. Santa only brings a few presents, most gifts sit under the tree at home. Opening anything before Christmas day would be considered cheating, but we often spread out opening gifts over a few days after we get home. As a kid I have fond memories of trying to find a gift for each sibling with my allotted budget of a few dollars each.
    7. Stockings are essential and travel wherever we are. My wife takes care of filling them after the kids are asleep. As a teenager I was invited to help my mom fill the stockings after my younger siblings were asleep and then I’d be sent to my bedroom before the gifts from Santa appeared.

  8. 3. Family. We do Christmas Eve home with just us. We used to go to my parents’ home, but Christmas Day got so hectic we decided we needed some time just for us. Christmas morning it’s just us, then to my parents’ home, then the in-laws’.

    4. Trees. We do a fake tree and have it up around Thanksgiving. Love real trees, but not risking a fire.

    5. Christmas Eve gifts. We traditionally have the kids open one gift, and it’s usually pajamas.

    6. Lists or surprise. In our family we don’t usually do lists. I love to surprise my family and get upset if they discovery gifts early. We put all the gifts out on Christmas Eve after everyone’s gone to bed. We don’t want them (or the dog) messing with them. Lists for extended family help, but I still prefer to surprise them.

    7. Stockings. My wife does those. She usually puts one or two gifts in them (socks, a heated ice scraper, etc.), plus bags of candy, jerky. She spends more money than I would.

    8. Music. I like music from the 60-70s because that’s what I listened to growing up. We don’t listen to it as much as we used to because we don’t want to get burned out.

    9. Food. We usually do a big seafood feast on Christmas Eve (salmon, shrimp, crab, etc.). It’s expensive, though, and this year we’re going with pizza instead. Christmas morning nothing formal. Meals at both extended family’s homes, though we usually only eat at the inlaws’.

    10. We like to pick a few families to have the boys deliver stuff to on Christmas Eve. Ring and run. They’ve always enjoyed that.

  9. 1. We used to see a Christmas Carol at the local theater, but they stopped doing it a few years ago so we’ve done other stuff. This year we’re doing the holiday pops concert and my daughter went with her mom and grandma to see The Nutcracker. A couple wards from our stake do a Christmas concert with 2 or 3 choirs from other local churches, which is usually nice. Sometimes they combine that with a nativity scene display of different nativities from around the world.
    2. I’ve been to local Episcopal services and Lutheran services. We don’t go every year, though. I’ll often catch the pope’s Christmas message on TV. This year our stake is having all the wards do just a sacrament service, but in the past we’ve usually done the full block when Christmas is on Sunday.
    3. My parents are only about 15 minutes away from us. This year we’re doing Christmas Eve with them, then Christmas morning with just the kids, then they’ll come over later in the day after church.
    4. Always a live tree. We used to go to a farm and cut it, but the past couple of years we bought pre-cut trees from the scouts or a local farm market. My wife always wants to do it early, like right after Thanksgiving. I usually want to wait, but I don’t care that much so we usually get a tree early. I like blue spruces, but they can be pricey and pirckly so we usually get a fraser. This year we got a fraser, but got a tiny little concolor to put in the basement with all the non-breakable ornaments for the kids to decorate and play with.
    5. Christmas Day. Occasionally we do the one gift on Christmas Eve thing, but not every year.
    6. I like surprises. My wife hates them and wants lists. We aspire to be minimalists, but every year we seem to keep buying more presents for each other after we say we’re done. A couple gifts from Santa are unwrapped. Most are wrapped and are from us.
    7. We do stockings. Always an orange. Some candy. A few small gifts.
    8. I’m kind of a scrooge about most contemporary Christmas music. But I like hymns. And I like old Christmas songs. Like medieval old.
    9. We like to change it up for food. My mom always did a ham on Christmas Eve and occasionally we’d also do a turkey on Christmas Day. My wife hates ham, so we don’t do that often. We did it once when the company she worked for gave a ham to all the employees. The next year they gave out ribeye roasts, which was amazing. We’ve even done lamb. Sometimes we do the big meal on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Christmas Day, sometimes both. We also do a big breakfast Christmas Morning with baked French toast, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, etc. We like to pick at least one dish from our heritage. My family is English and Danish. My wife’s family is English, Swedish, French-German, and Italian. The one consistent thing is some kind of fish on Christmas Eve. Almost always oysters.

  10. 1. We go to a rehab hospital and sing on Christmas Eve with several other families. We find that hospitals do get an over abundance of visits during December, but no one goes on Christmas Eve, and usually there is a family member with every patient who really seems to enjoy our singing. Then we gather at our home, have a ham dinner, and the young ones (we don’t have young kids any more, but the families that we invite do) do the nativity play. We’ve done it now for over 15 years, and I never get tired of it.

    Other that that, we don’t have any special or different Christmas traditions. Live tree, presents are opened on Christmas, don’t do stockings now that kids are grown, and we do lists otherwise with the family so spread out, duplications would be a real possibility.

  11. 1. Before kids and my crazy job, my wife, some friends, and I would go caroling at the hospital that’s close to my parents’ house. Now, my job has me put on a lot of different Christmas events during December, so I decorate and undecorate about 100 trees between December 1 and December 22, so I’m pre-revelation Ebenezer Scrooge for Community Events now.
    2. My wife and I went to midnight mass when we were dating, but since then, we take the more vanilla, Mormon route and just go to church (or we don’t).
    3. My wife and I haven’t created our own traditions yet, since we only have one kid and we live away from both our families. We tend to alternate holidays, so we’ll do Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas with the other. For Christmas Eve, my wife’s family goes out to a nice restaurant and then watches Christmas movies and prepares for Christmas breakfast/lunch/dinner the next day. My family has a party where we all get take-out, bring it to my parents’ house, visit, then my mom has us go downstairs and watch “Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey” (the best claymation movie ever), then all the grandkids dress up and we do a living nativity to the sound of my dad reading the Christmas story from Luke. We all sing Silent Night, then families go back to their houses to do their own traditions. On Christmas, my wife’s family has cinnamon rolls and open stockings, then we eat and chat the rest of the day with showings of “Elf” and “The Santa Clause” and “The Family Stone.” My family gets up, opens gifts, then we go with my parents to each of my siblings’ houses to see what the grandkids got for Christmas. We’ll eat breakfast at one of their houses and then we’ll all go to my parents’ house again for Christmas Dinner (Luncher?) at about 1PM. Lots of eating, chatting, and naps follow.
    4. We put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving and keep it up until we absolutely have to take it down (it’s lasted until February before). We always do a prelit, artificial tree, as do both our parents. My wife’s mom has a beautiful uniform tree that she decorates with vintage glass ornaments and vintage Christmas cards. My parent’s tree is a revolving multi-color light tree, which used to be decorated with all of our ornaments from growing up, but now with snowflakes and angels.
    5. We always open pajamas on Christmas Eve, then the good stuff on Christmas morning.
    6. My dad always had to have boxes everywhere for Christmas, so I’m a splurger. I save a “Christmas tithing” all year, then spend it. My wife hates it because we always agree to do something small and simple, and then I’m not satisfied, so I go on a buying bender the week before Christmas.
    7. Since we go to our parents’ homes for Christmas, our parents usually do stockings. I’ll put a little something in my wife’s and son’s stocking, but we always get oranges and a can of black olives.
    8. Kenny Rodgers’ Kentucky Homemade Christmas is the sound of my season. My parents always listen to it to remind them of when they were so poor on Christmas that they had nothing. I still listen to the album and bawl, even though I grew up when my parents were well-established. My wife and I also enjoy the traditional Christmas songs from Bing, Elvis, etc.. but we also enjoy The Killers’ Christmas Albums. Our lullaby songs to our son all change to Christmas hymns during the season.
    9. Ham and funeral potatoes are the staples in my family. Spinach dip, date pinwheel cookies. caramel corn, peanut butter fudge, and ginger snaps as well. My mom also makes frozen fruit salad, which is to die for.
    10. My oldest brother never did Santa because he felt like it would hurt his kids’ faith in Jesus to believe in a lie like Santa Claus (what a Scrooge), but he started doing gold, frankincense, and myrrh gifts. Gold is something valuable that the child really wants. Frankincense is something that will develop the child’s spirituality or intellect. Myrrh is something for the body, like clothes, cologne, lotion, etc… The kids are responsible for getting each other gifts that would benefit the whole family like games. I like this idea, but I don’t think I could ever have a Christmas with only four presents!

  12. Bruce Spencer says:

    1.The town community center Santa’s Village when the kids were young.

    2.It’s already been put out by Salt Lake that it’s a one hour block this year… Hooray… Singing with a few short talks or verses being recited. Hmmm… could we make that every Sunday?

    3.Family, either at our house or theirs.

    4.Tree up usually by the first week of December, down by New Year’s eve… real… they make fake ones?. Local Rotary Club, lights, a little tinsel, and favorite ornaments.

    5.Christmas Day gift exchange, one child acts as Santa, we rotate through, enjoying each person opening their gift.

    6.I personally am a minimalist when it comes to gifts, some people you know exactly what they want, and these days it tends more to smaller consumable items. Kids can open a single gift Christmas eve.

    7.Stockings… yes… nice ones that my mom made years ago. Who doesn’t like to find their favorite dark chocolate bar Christmas morning.

    8.Music… all kinds… love singing Christmas hymns at church… favorite Christmas song?… “Merry Christmas From The Family”… Robert Earl Keen… not the Montgomery-Gentry version. Probably says a lot about me.

    9.Food… pecan tassies… dates filled with cream cheese.

    10.Potpourri… enjoy the day… keep close to your family.. .remember our savior.

  13. Molly Bennion says:

    Bruce Spencer, “Merry Christmas from the Family” says nothing but good things about you. “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”

  14. 1. The world’s tallest singing Christmas tree! It is a local high school production. Every year I say, I don’t need to go next year, and every year I buy tickets.
    2. We have friends who are Lutheran, and we usually go to their Christmas Eve candle light service, weather and my husband’s work schedule permitting. Our ward does a “Christmas Program” with speaking parts and lots of music.
    3. My family is far away, as is our only child and her family. My husband’s family is local, but they are not close and do not get together. They like each other, they have just drifted away from getting together at Christmas. Or pretty much any other time.
    4. We always get a real tree. Any time my husband complains about it, I tell him I would be happy to go to Walmart and get a fake one. That ends the conversation. We get it the first or second week of December and leave it up until around New Year’s Day. This year it has red lights (there are white lights in the window) and lots of ornaments that I have collected over the years, some vintage, some hand made. No two are alike.
    5. We exchange gifts on Christmas Day. When my daughter was at home, she would open one gift (okayed by me) on Christmas Eve.
    6. We do lists, but I also throw in some surprises. I have a (fairly healthy) Christmas budget and I’m pretty good at sticking to it. The presents show up under the tree as they get wrapped (usually at the last minute) or show up in the mail. Santa gifts were unwrapped under the tree in the morning, when our daughter was a believer.
    7. We have big stockings that I made. They hold a lot of stuff! I do the stockings. That way I get exactly what I want! They are filled with lots of kinds of chocolate, nuts, and a few small gifts.
    8. Music–Sing Along with Mitch Miller and the Gang! Also Andy Williams, Josh Groban, and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I like “Mary Did You Know,” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.”
    9. Ham dinner Christmas Eve, so we can have leftovers on Christmas, and I don’t have to cook. We also do a meal during the holidays of cheese ball, summer sausage, crackers, cheese, veggies and dip, chips, etc. And there are always lots of cookies and candies left over from the goody plates I give to friends.
    10. I always like to do something for Christmas for a few people who don’t expect it.

  15. 2. When we lived in Salt Lake our stake always did a one hour sacrament meeting on the closest Sunday to Christmas. It was so great. I think downtown must have got wind of it because one year the stake president said we couldn’t do it anymore. Now we only get that when Christmas actually falls on a Sunday. (Amazingly, we did the one hour only thing on mother’s day too but that ended the same time as the one hour Christmas).
    3. We switch every Christmas Eve between the two sides of the family. Pretty standard meal except this year my mother in law says she is doing Mexican. Sounds good to me.
    4. Always a fake tree. I’m too lazy and cheap to pay for a real one every year. My kids pick out a new ornament every year. We have so many now that I can’t put them all on the tree. My oldest got married this year so I put all his ornaments in a box to give to him. His new wife is a decorator though so I don’t think his homemade/childish ornaments will ever see the light of day on her beautiful tree. I think that makes him a little sad.
    5. Pjs from grandma on Christmas Eve as well as a present from a cousin. (We draw names for the cousins).
    6. Now that all my kids are non-believers I wrap everything to put under the tree. I usually go to bed before my kids on Christmas Eve now, then get up before them in the morning to fill stockings.
    7. I’m always the one to do stockings. Candy, soda (I don’t buy that usually), pop tarts and small presents. I am always surprised at the traditions that pop up when you don’t realize you have started one. I have 5 kids and a living room with a chair, loveseat, and couch. It just made sense to arrange each kid’s stuff so that the oldest was on the chair, twin boys on the loveseat and the two girls on each end of the couch. When my oldest left on his mission, it was a big discussion about who got the big chair for their stocking/santa stuff. I had no idea that was a tradition I had started.
    9. Food at in-laws Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I used to make a big breakfast on Christmas but only my husband and I would eat it because the kids had gorged on pop tarts.

  16. To the OP about #7. Maybe you should try to fill your wife’s stocking this year. Maybe she has been waiting for someone to do this loving and thoughtful gesture for her for years. She does it for everyone else and has for years. Maybe buying her some thoughtful little somethings for her rather than expecting her to fill everyone’s stocking and (not) hers as well, would be a good experiment. Just a thought. Merry Christmas!

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    I just saw your comment, Amy, and for almost any other person you would be absolutely right. But not in the case of my wife. You’ll just have to trust me on this.