Holiday Traditions

When I was growing up in Price, we lived just a half hour away from my Grandma and Grandpa. We spent a lot of time at their house. Some of my favorite memories are from the Christmases spent at Grandma's. Every Christmas Eve, the entire family would gather at Grandma's house for dinner. After stuffing ourselves silly, Grandma would give each of us grandkids one present to open -- our Christmas pajamas. When we were small, Grandma would sew our pajamas, so they would all match.

With my brothers on my first Christmas, 1984

After changing into our pajamas and eating some dessert, we would head home. On our drive, we always played a game where we would shout out where we saw Christmas lights. I imagine this was created by my parents to keep my brothers and I from bugging each other, but as we drove, we'd call out, "Christmas lights on the left!" or "Christmas lights on the right!" (I still find myself doing this sometimes.) We would arrive home and head to bed, anxious for the wonders that the morning would bring.

Posing with my cousins in our matching p.j.'s, 1991.

Since my Dad worked shift work at the power plant, sometimes he would have to work the night before Christmas and wouldn't get home until 7:30 AM. It was excruciating trying to wait all the way until 7:30 before we could open our presents. We would divvy up the gifts and the chaos would ensue. After all our presents were open at home, we'd eat breakfast, get dressed, and go back to Grandma's for more presents and more food.

My family had our fair share of Christmas traditions as well. Since we lived far away from extended family for most of my childhood, we always just did our own thing. And over the years, we developed a pretty elaborate Christmas Eve program—complete with musical numbers, a tree lighting ceremony, and a delicious spread of holiday goodies. When we were younger, we would don makeshift costumes and act out the nativity. In later years, we were content to listen as my dad narrated it from the Bible. The night ended with getting to open one present before bed.

On Christmas morning, my brother and I were always the first ones to wake up. We'd sneak down to our sisters room and crawl into their beds so we could gang up on our parents. Just when it seemed we might explode with anticipation, we had to wait some more for my dad to light the fireplace. Once it was finally time to open presents, instead of a paper-ripping free-for-all, everyone took turns opening a present so we could see what they got and what their reaction was. Factoring in a short break for breakfast, present opening often stretched late into the morning. My siblings and I always tried to have the last present left to open.

New Traditions
Since we spent last Christmas at home with just us, Dave and I decided to start some Christmas traditions of our own. We want our children to grow up knowing that Christmas is not only about presents, but more importantly, about celebrating the birth of the Savior, so we have tried to include spiritual traditions. We make a trip to Temple Square each December to see the lights, the nativities, and the Christus. Eddie has always loved the temple and he looks forward to our trip downtown each year.

This year, we also went to see the holiday lights at Thanksgiving Point. Eddie loved seeing the moving lights, like the gingerbread boy flipping over the road and the penguin sliding down the igloo. He especially liked going to see the live reindeer in the plaza, even though all they did was lay on the ground looking suicidal.

A new tradition that we started this year (inspired by Dave's sister Cheryl) is using Christmas books as our "advent calendar" to count down to Christmas. We already had several Christmas or winter-themed books, but I purchased a few and checked a few more out from the library. We started on the 11th and have opened up one book each night. The last book to open is The Night Before Christmas, then on Christmas Eve, we will tell Eddie the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible.


Hali said...

Love traditions, sounds like you are on your way to having some for your family. Although, I am pretty sure our New Year's tradition will live on for at least until one of us outgrows the other persons home. Have a Merry Christmas and we will see you in a week!

ScottBoomer said...

I figured you would have ended your book advent with "The Night Mare Before Christmas"