It’s the culmination of individual intricacies over the years that form traditions. I don’t think you start something one year with the intention that it will be carried on for years to come, it just naturally evolves. I am so thankful that my family has developed many holiday traditions that I hope one day to carry on to my own family. I remember years in the past where Mom and Dad had the neighbors throw ice cubes on our rooftop right around bedtime to simulate the sound of reindeer hooves. Or the year when they put a trail of suit footprints leading from the fireplace to the plate of kitchen in the cookies. They didn’t know it then, but these are memories I’ll never forget…
1. Christmas Eve at the McGimsey’s House: The McGimsey’s are close friends of our family who have a Christmas Eve celebration at their house every year. Like our family, The McGimsey’s don’t have a large extended family, so they open their home to their “adopted family”…aren’t we lucky?? The party generally consists of the same 5 or so families and the food, drink, and decorations are always perfect. Because of a few life changes going on, we’re hosting the party at our house this year. This is definitely a twist to the tradition, but we know it will be just as special as years past.
2. Christmas Eve Church Service: Each year we attend at least one, and lately, two, Christmas Eve Church Services. We grew up going to Matthews United Methodist Church, and although my family no longer attends Church there, it only seems right that we go back for the Christmas Eve Service. The service itself is completely predictable, but comforting to know that in a world where so many things are changing, you can expect to hear the same songs, see the same people, and hear a very similar sermon. At the end of the service the lights are all turned off, candles are lit, and the church sings “Silent Night”. I get teary- eyed every year, as it is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The past few years we’ve also attended the Elevation Church Christmas Eve Service which is always entertaining, fresh, and a completely opposite experience from the Methodist Church, yet both are powerful in their own way.
3. Twas The Night Before Christmas… After Church we come home and indulge in a holiday feast. Without fail, every single year Whitney and I beg my parents to let us open one present early that night. I think this is a tradition for some families, but never has been for ours. Even though we know they will say no, we still ask. I am hopeful that maybe one year they will give in. It’s not looking too promising, but it’s worth a shot! When we were little my parents would read us “The Polar Express” as we drifted off to sleep. Last year I asked Mom to read it to me before bed, and loved every minute. Although my sister and I are now 26 and 24, we still sleep together on Christmas Eve and are giddy with excitement for what Santa will bring.
4. Stockings and Sausage Balls: No matter how sleepy I am, I can never sleep past 7am on Christmas morning. Usually I wake up around 5am, and it takes everything inside of me to not wake up my entire family then. The normal routine is that we all wake each other up, and then go downstairs in our jammies. We eat a delicious breakfast (by breakfast I mean I’m averaging 10+ sausage balls) and have hot chocolate. While eating our breakfast we dive into our stockings. As I’ve mentioned previously, the stockings are as good (or better) than our actual presents.
5. Present Time! After opening our stockings, we head upstairs to see all of the presents that Santa has brought. The rules of present opening is that the baby goes first. Lucky me! So, I will open a present, then Whitney, then Mom, then Dad, then we start the order over again until all the presents have been opened. I love being the youngest and getting to go first and secretly dread the day when Whitney and I have children and I no longer have this privilege. I’ve heard of some families who have all of their presents unwrapped under the tree. I am so glad that my family enjoys the art of present wrapping, it makes things so much more exciting!
Hoping all of your Christmas Miracles come true this year, Merry Christmas!