I cannot believe that December is almost over and Christmas is in less than 24 hours. Christmas is my favorite holiday to celebrate because along with the fun side of presents and gift-giving, there is a side full of faith, family, and tradition. Faith is very important to my family and that’s what most of our Christmas Eve and Christmas traditions stems off of; in fact, faith is what kick off our Christmas Eve celebrations.
I saw a few days back Carly Heitlinger from The College Prepster
shared her family traditions on her blog. I loved the idea and how thoughtful her post was. I wanted to join in on the fun and share my Christmas traditions, but make sure to check out her Holiday Traditions post
One of the small traditions that the Smith family has is counting down to Christmas. A few years back Hallmark had an ornament that would digitally count down the days until Christmas. Now it seems as if we set up the countdown earlier and earlier each year. I know that this year, the ornament has been counting down to Christmas since Halloween!
When we were in Elementary school on the night before Christmas Eve, my sister, Lisa, and I used to stay up late on the family laptop and track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker. This website tracks Santa all over the world beginning in the early morning of December 24th. When he reaches a major city, there is a small video of the sights that Santa saw. It was always so exciting to track him throughout the day, keep updated on where he was, and where he was going next.
The festivities really kick off in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. We all prepare for Christmas Eve mass which begins at 4pm. I’m Catholic and my Dad’s side of the family (22 cousins, 14 aunts and uncles, 2 grandparents) is Catholic as well. All 38 of us head to mass to praise the birth of Jesus the Savior. Christmas Eve mass is my favorite of the entire year. I love the music, the homily, and the joy that overflows the room.
Once mass is concluded, the entire family (yes, all 38 of us) head over to an aunt and uncles house for dinner. There are seven individual families that make up the entire Smith family so, each year families switch off for hosting Christmas Eve dinner. 2017 is the year that my family will host again, the last time being 2010 and even further back, in 2003. Sometimes there are fun little games at dinner: gingerbread house competitions, Chinese gift exchanges, “Just Dance”-offs have been apart of the list.
Once my family returns home from dinner, we all slip out of our heels and into our most festive Christmas pajamas.When we were little, my sisters and I would immediately go to bed, get on Pictochat on our Nintendo DS’s and predict what we think Santa might bring us. Now that we’re all grown up we spend the late evening together watching a Christmas movie.
As the movie concludes, some of us dwindle up the stairs and off to bed (usually me) and others stay until the credits are over. As my sisters and I have grown up, I have come to realize that there’s something about setting out cookies for Santa that never gets old. Each year, on the same Santa plate we used when we were 5 years old, my family sets out a few cookies for Santa and a nice ice cold Diet Coke. The Santa Clause that visits our house doesn’t necessarily care for a glass of milk…weird.
When we were younger, my sisters and I used to wake up extremely early on Christmas and wait in the hallway to see what Santa brought us. We were never allowed to go downstairs without our parents though and we were absolutely not allowed to wake up mom and dad either. We would sit in the hallway and play Nintendo DS or gather in Lisa and I’s room (because we shared) and pace waiting for our parents to wake up. Now, we sleep in until about 9am and still wake each other up, but are way more patient than we once were. My mom still takes the obligatory “kids coming downstairs on Christmas morning” picture but now I’ve come to love our lazy and relaxed Christmas morning.
Once we are all downstairs, we open stockings first. Usually Santa fills it with a few gift cards, Bath & Body Works, earrings, socks, and something sweet. Once we all spent plenty of time digging through our stockings, we distribute gifts. Each person has their own pile. We all sit at our piles and go in a circle opening presents. We all take turns opening one gift at a time and repeating the circle. I love this slow way of opening gifts because it helps show the appreciation and gratitude for everything I receive. The rest of the morning features Christmas brunch and Christmas naps with a visit from my grandparents on my Mom’s side of the family.
We head to my Dad’s parent’s house around 4pm to meet up with the same 38 family members we spent Christmas Eve with. My Grandmother, Lady, cooks a delicious Christmas feast and we all spend the evening eating, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. The night concludes with opening Christmas presents and dessert. Then it’s back home, with another Christmas in the books.
Q: What is your favorite Holiday tradition?? Share it in the comments below!