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Holiday Traditions

I debated on posting a gift guide of things I’d actually like as a busy mom, but to be honest, I started thinking about our Christmas traditions and our upcoming plans. It hit me, for once, our Christmas Eve is free. I figured I could talk about the traditions I had growing up verses now.

When I was a kid we had a lot of traditions, but now, it’s completely different. Everyone is growing old or growing up and has families of their own. We all branched out and made our own traditions.

Christmas Eve at the Matriarch’s

My mother’s mom ran our family for years. There wasn’t anything she didn’t know, and every holiday dinner was at her house. My grandma has 3 daughters, and my mother is the oldest. There are 6 grandkids total, and now 8 great-grand kids. Before all of us grandchildren had families of our own, we would get dressed up and spend our holidays at grandma’s. We would go there Christmas Eve, and there would be an elaborate meal and snacks trays. Then, the majority of us would go to candle light service.

It was a very big deal. My older cousin and I used it as a test for our “serious” boyfriends. We would drag them with, and if they could handle the drama and the pressure, then, they might get a little bit of acceptance from our Pap. Usually, he hated them from the jump though. The only successful guy I ever brought around to receive hands down praise was my current husband. To be fair, if we divorced, my family would keep him instead of me. They’ve told me multiple times.

Aside from being a well dressed circus, dinner at my grandma’s was one of my favorite things to do at the holidays. As we all got older, the dinners eventually stopped. My grandma had skin cancer a few years back and beat it, but she can’t handle doing the big ordeal like she used to. We just found out at the beginning of December she has bone cancer, and it can be managed, but we don’t know for how long yet. We are waiting to know more this week, so this holiday season has been really rough.

Growing Up in Youth Group

When I was little, my parents sent me to my grandmother’s every weekend for church and to spend time with my mother’s parents. To this day, they say I wasn’t forced to go, but I don’t know what else to call not being allowed to say no.

Looking back, I’m not angry about it; I’m grateful. I grew up being very involved in youth group, and Christmas was one of our busiest times. Aside from spending Christmas Eve at my grandma’s, I was usually booked with youth group activities. We had a float in the Christmas parade. We would do live nativity scenes in yards. We would also put on a Christmas play/pageant in front of the congregation on Christmas Eve. I was usually an angel unless it was my turn to be Mary. I loved it, and even though I don’t talk to those people maybe more than once a year, I have so much love for them. It’s definitely a tradition I miss.

Branching Out

All of us grandkids got older. We started getting married and having babies of our own. The holiday meals started moving to each of our mother’s houses, but it’s not quite like dinner at my grandma’s house.

My mom makes holidays a little more relaxed, but it’s still mandatory. We dress up each of our little families and take a dish to her house. Dinner is served buffet style on Christmas Day rather than Eve, and if you know someone who needs a good meal or isn’t seeing their own family, bring them along. Dinner is usually early in the day, but my parents say to come when you’re able. There’s chaos with kids of all ages playing, and random friends and family members pop in and out all day. It’s fairly high stress for me, since I have toddlers and my mother’s house isn’t exactly childproof- she has a lot of glass decorations and tart burners all over. Going to my parents’ house for the first meal has become our new normal for the holidays though.

Husband’s Family Traditions

My husband has foster parents that we call his parents. They were the last foster home he lived in, and he’s very close with them. They have two biological daughters who are 10 years younger than us, and they have a foster son who’s a few years older than us and also like family. They are super busy at the holidays, so we see them when they aren’t traveling or working. Sometimes, there’s a family dinner, and sometimes, it’s just a gift exchange. They are a little more go with the flow since they are always busy.

My husband is also close with his biological siblings, and we usually see them in the evening on Christmas. They are also more lax and understanding when it comes to the holidays being chaotic with visiting multiple families.

We have a fair amount of families to see with everyone combined, but somehow, our Christmas Eve is free this year. I guess it’s time to start planning.

I Want My Own Traditions

This year has me thinking more and more. I want to start my own traditions with my kids. Christmas Eve is now free, so I want to start doing something fun. My husband and I wrap gifts and have a makeshift date night once the kids are asleep, but we need something to do before they go to bed.

I’ve debated on making cookies and hot chocolate and watching a movie. I’ve thought about getting matching cozy pjs and driving around looking at lights. I’ve thought about moving some of the Christmas Day visits to Christmas Eve. I’m just not sure.

I miss dressing up for my grandma’s. I might make everyone dress up and go visit her if she’s up for it. I’m just not entirely sure what to start doing the night before our busiest day of the year. I started making a list, and I think I’m going to talk with my husband about figuring out what to do for our new Christmas Eve tradition.

Ideas for Christmas Eve

  • Allowing one present to be opened
  • Opening new festive pjs as a gift and all wearing them
  • Making gingerbread houses together
  • Making Santa snacks and drawing him a map to the tree
  • Watching Christmas movies with homemade hot chocolate
  • Going on a ride to see all of the Christmas lights
  • Making cookies to handout to family on Christmas

There’s a lot of things we could do on the day before the biggest holiday of the year for us. Even if I don’t know exactly what our plans are, I know we will get to spend it together, and that’s my favorite part.

I probably won’t post often over the next week or two. I want to be present for the time my husband has off of work. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, so I really want to cherish it. I may do a few small posts or updates, and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Feel free to comment some of your traditions or suggestions for what to do on Christmas Eve.


  1. I love your Christmas traditions! We’ll usually go to Christmas Eve service and then drive around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights! I really wanted to try caroling this year but no one was into it! 😂 As kids though, we’d go as a group of families and a few people would play guitar and we’d carol and look at lights. With the same group, we’d all get together and do crafts, eat, and one of the dads would dress up like Santa and give out gifts. It was so much fun!

    • That sounds so amazing! When we did the youth group nativity scenes, sometimes people would donate for us to sing. I love the traditions we used to carry out, and I can’t wait to make new ones. Have a happy holiday!

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