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Family Favorite Holiday Traditions

by Pam Asberry

Festive traditions come and go, but for most families there are certain rituals that are essential parts of the holidays. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

My family starts right after Thanksgiving dinner with the ceremonial playing of the Chipmunks Christmas CD. It is comforting to know that, no matter where we are, my parents, my brother and his wife, and I are listening to this kitschy music, thinking about each other and remembering Christmases past.

Next, whoever is still at my house Thanksgiving even watches Bill Murray’s Scrooged. I love Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and reread the original every few years. I love the old black and white movie versions and many of the newer incarnations, too. But there is something about Scrooged, hokey ending and all, that totally tickles my Christmas fancy.

Then there is the Nutcracker ballet. I don’t make it to a live performance every year, but when I miss it I feel like I do on the fourth of July when I don’t see a fireworks display. Just this past weekend, I was blessed to attend the Gwinnet Ballet Theatre’s production and watch one of my piano students perform the Arabian Dance.  She was, in a word, magnificent. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched her on stage. It’s not too late to get tickets for this coming weekend. Click HERE for more information.

And of course there is the food. Most years I experiment with at least a couple of new recipes, but there are a few items that are family favorites. I am in charge of cookies: chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodles, Christmas wine cookies—while my mom makes the candy—fantasy fudge, peanut butter fudge, Hello Dolly squares and “white trash.” You can find recipes for some of these on today’s post at my personal blog (click HERE). And speaking of my personal blog, click HERE to find out more about my newest holiday tradition, guaranteed to make all the rest even sweeter.

What are your family’s favorite holiday traditions? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card. However you celebrate, I hope you are having your best December ever!

Jane - December 13, 2012 - 1:01 am

Our holiday traditions include putting up the tree after Thanksgiving dinner and opening our presents at midnight instead of Christmas morning.

Mary Preston - December 13, 2012 - 4:16 am

One of my favourite traditions is for Christmas Eve. We order in pizza & then after dinner open one gift each. The rest of the gifts are opened after church on Christmas morning.

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2012 - 6:21 am

Well, we don’t have any Christmas traditions because we celebrate Hanukkah. But I love the Christmas holiday, the decorations, light displays and Christmas music. And the food. I love peppermint and yesterday I bought a box of candy canes and peppermint ice cream. My daughter lives in New York City and that city is beautiful in December decorated for the holidays. Thanks for a great post.

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 9:45 am

I love the idea of opening presents at midnight, Jane, but I don’t think we could wait that long! We do open our gifts on Christmas Eve though. Thanks for your comment!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 9:47 am

Pizza on Christmas Eve sounds great, Mary! I usually make chili in the crockpot. You have a lot of willpower waiting until after church on Christmas morning to open gifts. Thanks for sharing!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 9:48 am

I have never seen New York at Christmas time, Marilyn, but based on what I have seen on television it is really something. I am a big fan of peppermint ice cream myself. And during the holidays I like to make brownies, ice them with vanilla frosting, and sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top. I am getting hungry just thinking about it! Happy Hannukkah!

Carol Kilgore - December 13, 2012 - 10:34 am

Lighting all the Christmas candles on Christmas Eve, singing carols, and opening gifts.

I hope you shared the wine cookies recipe on your blog!

Sheila Anderson - December 13, 2012 - 1:47 pm

Our traditions have change over the years as family members have passed, we have moved many times, and our son has grown into a teenager. We always have atleast one huge meal with turkey, ham, delicious sides, and many pies and treats for the holidays :) I send out cards with a family picture in them, the past few years the picture has been of our son Tyler and the pets. This year we had Christmas eary, since we are in Florida and Paul’s parents are in Mississippi. They came early to celebrate on the first week of December so I rushed to get everything decorated and ready :) All I have left to do this year is to decide on the best photo to include with the Christmas cards, and have some additional photos made to send out to grandmothers, and get them all addressed and sent out, and make cookies and candies next week :) We will of course have another elaborate dinner for the holidays for the four of us, on the 25th :)

Maxine - December 13, 2012 - 1:55 pm

Pam, love the tree. With no children, I enjoy when it’s our turn to host the inlaws Christmas Eve. Some of the college-age boys hit the door asking, “Did you make that hamburger stuff?” Of course I did–brown l lb hamburger, mix in an 8 oz. block of cream cheese and stir in most of a bottle of picante sauce. They go crazy over it. I think opening gifts at midnight Christmas Eve is great.

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 3:12 pm

I did, Carol! They take a while to make but they are delicious!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 3:13 pm

I got my Christmas cards mailed yesterday, Sheila. That’s one of my favorite holiday “chores.” Thanks for stopping by our blog!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 3:13 pm

That sounds like something my kids would love, Maxine. As a matter of fact, I am going to an hors d’oeuvres party next week and I might just try it then! If it’s as good as your buttermilk pie, it’s sure to be a hit!

Viki S. - December 13, 2012 - 4:03 pm

Ours have changed as the family has grown older. The boys are now in their 20’s so Christmas morning isn’t traditional anymore. In fact I’m lucky if they’re out of bed by 10 (I still make orange rolls for breakfast). The eldest is married so we now have everyone over Christmas Eve for pizza and presents. The big meal is still Christmas day but only for the 4 of us.
Have a Merry Christmas!

Denise - December 13, 2012 - 5:23 pm

We’re re-tooling our traditions. So far egg-nog, stockings, Christmas morning breakfast, and lights have stuck. The tree is gone as are lots of gifts.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - December 13, 2012 - 6:48 pm

I can identify with Sheila’s comment. It seems that traditions have changed over the years. One thing I always try to do is send out holiday cards with a letter/note about what’s happened during the year.

We always open our “under the tree” presents on Christmas Eve. CMas Day was always for Santa gifts. We also have the big feast on Christmas Day. Some years the house is bursting at the seams. This year, not so much. We might have three family/guests in, but our kids won’t make it due to work constraints. Picture me bummed. However, we were able to enjoy a nice little pre-celebration with our daughter and her fiance in Denver recently.

Speaking of cards and letters, I’d better get back to mine. I’m determined to mail them tomorrow. :-D

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 7:37 pm

I understand completely, Viki! Although it was fun playing Santa when my boys were little, it was tough getting to bed in the wee hours and then being awakened before the sun came up to open presents. I kind of like sleeping in on Christmas morning myself. ;-) Merry Christmas to you too!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 7:39 pm

Whoa, Denise. I love my Christmas tree. But more power to you! We have cut way back on gifts too. But I enjoy picking out one or two special items for the people I love. Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2012 - 7:42 pm

I’m sorry you won’t get to see your kids this Christmas, Carol! But I’m glad you got to visit with your daughter and her fiance. Good luck with your cards! Hope you get them out tomorrow as planned!

Sandra Elzie - December 14, 2012 - 9:17 am

Hi Pam,
Sorry I’m late arriving at the party. Let’s see….. After Thanksgiving dinner we always watch the Dog Championship, then we put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house.

We have several movies that we watch each year (Miracle on 34th Street, the first Die Hard …it’s a man thing…and a few others)while the lights twinkle on the tree.

After the usual round of parties (with at least one at our home) we get up Christmas morning, have breakfast and then open gifts before we call the family that couldn’t be with us and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Pam Asberry - December 14, 2012 - 10:02 am

The first Die Hard, eh? I might actually be able to get my boys to watch that one with me! Thanks for your comments, Sandy! Hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas!

C.E. Hart - December 14, 2012 - 10:43 am

Each Thanksgiving, after our feast, we go to a local tree farm and pick out a Christmas tree. We also spend the rest of the day watching football and It’s a Wonderful Life. :)

Linsey Lanier - December 14, 2012 - 11:48 am

Isn’t it awful when you write a comment in your head and then forget to post it?

Anyway, yesterday I was going to say that I didn’t think I could take much of the Chipmunks, but the Nutcracker is right up my alley. :) Right now, hubby and I are indulging ourselves on Hallmark Christmas movies, soon to be followed by White Christmas (the movie).

Loved your post, Pam. :)

Pam Asberry - December 14, 2012 - 12:03 pm

That sounds like a great Thanksgiving tradition, C.E.! I haven’t watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” yet this year. Maybe tonight!

Pam Asberry - December 14, 2012 - 12:04 pm

LOL, Linsey! That’s par for the course this time of year. Hope you and your husband enjoy your Christmas movies. I watched “The Bishop’s Wife” for the first time last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. Love those classics!

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