Christmas Eve & Day Traditions

24 December 2014

Most families have traditions that they follow for various events, especially when it comes to holidays. This is something that can clearly be seen during the Christmas season. We see the Facebook, Instagram and blog posts sharing a variety of traditions ranging from silly to serious. So it comes with no surprise that my family had some Christmas traditions that we did year and year. Today I want to share some of them with you.

Thinking back to my childhood I can recall the times when the calendar turned to December 1st and the countdown to Christmas Eve started. While Christmas Day was looked for to for all that it encompassed, Christmas Eve held a sort of special place for some certain reasons itself. During the day of Christmas Eve is was more likely than not that there was baking going on in the kitchen (cookies, breads, etc.), Christmas music or Christmas movies playing, and the plethora of Christmas mugs were out and regularly being refilled with hot chocolate or apple cider. 
When the evening drew near we would all spend some time getting dressed in our Christmas best to head on over to the church for the Christmas Eve Service. Hymns were sung, the Christmas story was told (the story of Jesus' birth), and candles were lit. We would stay and talk with friends after church, maybe exchanging a Christmas card or small gift with some. Then we would bundle up and get in the car to head out around town and look at Christmas lights. Being that Hastings wasn't a terribly large town, it generally took about 30-40 minutes on average to make a tour of town, hitting up our the favorite houses that were decked out every year.

Upon arriving back home we hung up coats and took off shoes and hurried to grab a spot on the couch or floor. We each grabbed the box with our name on it that was laid out just in front of the gifts for the following morning. We knew what was in the box but we didn't know what print, material, etc. these items were. Once mom had her camera and was situated where she could see all of our faces, we got the go ahead to open our Christmas Eve gift. 
Like many families traditionally do on Christmas Eve, we got a new pair of warm, cozy pajamas every Christmas Eve. This was a gift we could count on each year, but it was also one that held a sense of mystery and surprise with it as well. We would put on our new pajamas, curl up with blankets in the living room and watch a Christmas movie until we all fell asleep in the living room.

Like most kids we were up early the next morning anxiously awaiting the moment when our parents woke up. Tradition meant that stockings were always the first thing to be opened. If we were lucky we could convince them to let us do stockings before breakfast. Either way, our traditional Christmas breakfast consisted of cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, and sometimes pecan rolls. After we finished up breakfast we all grabbed a spot in the living room and we took turns each year passing out presents to one person at a time, watching them open their present before moving on to the next person.

A little while later when presents were all opened and wrapping paper was spread all across the living room, we would take a few minutes to pick it all up and straighten things out. Then we would lounge around the house putting together presents, having mini fashion shows, starting to tap into our candy stashes, and grabbing finger food as we went.

Christmas was always an event in and of itself. In the midst of the craziness we did try to take time out of the day to really focus on the reason that we celebrate this day. We spent time putting our focus on Jesus and what He did, the sacrifice He made. This is what makes for the ultimate tradition. 
Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with friends and family, but most importantly to celebrate the person who allows us to so freely and joyously share this time with those we love.

May you have a wonderful Christmas Eve enjoying your family traditions and soaking in the time you have to spend together. May you also be reminded and refocused on the reason that we celebrate the wonderful day that we call Christmas. 

Merry Christmas to all!!

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