Happiness and Cheer: Our Favorite Christmas Time Traditions
As I look back on my childhood, Christmas morning seems like something out of a movie -
I vividly remember waking up early in the morning and rubbing my eyes with delicious delight. It was finally Christmas morning. If it was 7am, then my grandmother had been up since 5:30am. She always started breakfast so that we could eat once my mother arrived home from working the night before. The breakfast menu included traditional Jamaican fare – liver, boiled green bananas, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish. Tea and orange juice were the beverage options.
My mom would come home from working a 12-hour shift as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit smiling, excited to be able to spend this holiday off and home with her family. Her uniform hasn’t changed over the years...thick opaque white stockings, a white midi uniform skirt, and a rich navy blue short sleeve top. In no time my mother would be down the steps in a festive sleep shirt smelling sweet and soapy from her shower.
By this time my brother would be greedily eyeing the gifts around the Christmas tree. My father would have already positioned himself in the living room for our Christmas morning family devotion. We were called to order. After devotion, the gift opening commenced. Breakfast would follow.
There was a magical quality to this time of year that I can distinctly remember. As I grew older and watched the increasing commercialization of this season my heart grew heavy and I lost the childlike awe and wonder that used to accompany this special time of year.
Thankfully, as I continued to live, I rediscovered the thrill of hope that causes a weary world to rejoice and once again Christmas has become a new and glorious time of year.
I am now cognizant of the responsibility I have to create and perpetuate Christmas Time traditions for our little family. Below I include some of my favorite traditions - traditions that I plan to keep for years to come.
8 Christmas Time Traditions:
1. Taking in the sights and sounds of the season
Sometimes you have to pause and make conscious efforts to truly enjoy all the syrupy pleasures of this time of year. This can take many different forms. It may include driving around the city or walking around the neighborhood to view Christmas light displays. One year I went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens – Holiday Nights Garden Lights Display. The displays were outrageously over the top and absolutely astounding.
This year I went to the Christmas Tree lighting at Atlantic Station – it was enchanting! In addition to the massive, decorated tree, there was live music, fireworks, and fake snow.
2. Decorating the Christmas Tree.
As a tween the idea of decorating our 8ft tree always seemed like a daunting task. Boxes would have to be moved, rearranged, and opened. Lights would have to be untangled and mini bulbs counted. Somehow my mother always ended up making it a fun family affair as Christmas carols would saturate the sound waves.
Now, I follow in my mother’s footsteps – even kicking it up a notch since we have colder temperatures here in Georgia. Christmas Tree Decorating is an event that includes a blazing fire, hot cocoa, and cookies in addition to Christmas carols and decorating the tree.
3. Christmas Shopping For Gift Giving.
While I don’t enjoy the crazy driving, bumper to bumper traffic [which is normal for Atlanta anyway], or the hustle and bustle of inconsiderate shoppers, I do enjoy going gift shopping and vetting gifts. The cheerful holiday displays always add an extra bounce in your step, and make great photo opps like this darling photo of my little sister below.
Traveling around Christmas Time has actually become a tradition. One year I went to North Carolina to visit my family there as soon as I got Christmas break. Last year we stayed in-state and drove just north of us and spend Christmas with Danny’s sister and her family. This year we’ll be in South Florida.
5. Christmas Goodies.
There are some treats that only come around at Christmas time – Classic Christmas Movies like The Preacher’s Wife (fav), This Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without A Santa Claus, and of course A Charlie Brown Christmas. And Creative Sweets like Snowman Cupcakes.
6. Christmas Eve Festivities.
Christmas Eve comes with its own magic and that’s without my parents perpetuating the Santa Claus lie. It was the ultimate slumber party atmosphere – staying up late included dancing to Christmas jingles, falling asleep to classic movies, and snacking on chips and dip, wings, and popcorn. I recently came across the idea of a Christmas Eve Box and have absolutely fallen in love with the idea.
7. Devotion Christmas Morning.
I definitely took family devotions for granted. As a youngster, no matter how early I awoke Christmas morning – I would typically fall asleep part way through devotion. My parents wisely used our Christmas morning family devotions to center us. My father would artfully articulate that while December 25th wasn't actually Jesus' birthday it is the day that we commemorate the birth of Christ. He would explain the impact Jesus had throughout the ages and what it means to us still. Cultivating a heart of gratitude and a true understanding of the "reason for the season" kept us from rabidly attacking the gifts under the tree.
8. Going to the Movies.
Without fail we go to the movies during the week of Christmas. The movies are open on Christmas Day and typically we take advantage of that either later Christmas night or the next day. Usually my grandmother and/or little sister are my company on these trips to the movies. The films that stand out most in past years include: The Great Debaters, Django, Alvin and The Chipmunks The Squeakquel, and Sherlock Holmes.
Christmas truly is a wonderful time. This year I'm looking forward to keeping the traditions going and adding holiday parties to the list. And of course every occasion is a good occasion to snuggle close with my favorite gift - my husband, who is a Christmas baby.
Wishing you much happiness and cheer during Christmas Time this year! What are your favorite Christmas Time Traditions?