It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Many times, this comes with the memories we have from years past and traditions we enjoy year after year. We here at Stewardship have some fond Christmas memories and favorite annual traditions. We thought it would be fun to share them with you in hopes to spark a recollection of similar grand times or to encourage the making of great new memories this year. We hope you enjoy our favorites!
My favorite Christmas tradition is opening presents on Christmas Eve. As a kid, we would drive to Phoenix on Christmas morning to spend the day with family, so on Christmas Eve we would always go to Christmas Eve service at church and then head straight home to open all of our presents—I loved it!
One Christmas, I remember getting a train set—it was amazing! My parents had set it up on a huge piece of plywood and it filled up the whole living room. I played with it the whole day. I don’t even remember what else I got for Christmas that year. I also don’t remember playing with it much after Christmas because my parents got rid of it—pretty quickly. Apparently having a train set on a huge piece of plywood wasn’t something people kept in their living room.
It’s a newer tradition, but we love it! My wife loves decorating for Christmas. And she’s good at it. She has a whole tradition of her own where she watches Christmas movies while she transforms our home into a magical Christmas wonderland. I’m talking artwork, stuffed animals, every shelf, ledge, and nook covered with mugs, books, snow globes and nick-nacks. Plus, we get Christmas lights inside!
But she does all of this after the kids have gone to sleep for the night. She stays up to the wee hours boxing all of our year-round décor to make room for Christmas—all the while insisting she doesn’t need my help.
The payoff comes when my kids wake up to discover a home transformed. Our favorite memory is hearing our son’s reaction the first time he was old enough to wake up on his own for the discovery. My wife and I pretend to be asleep and hear him gasp from the other room. He runs into our room, shakes me awake, and ‘whispers’ loudly, “Daddy, wake up! Something wonderful happened!”
Around Christmas each year my Grandma would take me to “pick stars.” We would go out after dark and walk on the sidewalk or to the park, and she would jump as high as she could and try to grab stars out of the sky. Once she grabbed them, they were of course terribly hot, “giant balls of gas burning millions of miles away” as Pumba from The Lion King would say.
She would blow on the stars to cool them off and toss them on the ground for us to pick up. Trying to get as many as I could before my brother or cousins was hard work, and I took it very seriously. A five-year-old boy has got to make sure he grabs as many stars as he can to stake his claim.
It was such a blast. The stars were actually sprinkles you would put on a cake or cupcake, but I bought it. I thought she was actually grabbing stars out of the sky!
It was devastating when I saw her reach into her pocket and grab the star, aka, “sprinkles” and toss them on the ground, but the experience of picking stars is something that I will never forget. It’s a tradition my mom continues with my kids today, and they, of course, buy it as well. I love to hear their stories and perceived experience about how my mom “picks” stars with them. A ton of fun and something I will always cherish!
As much as I love the Christmas season and celebrating Christ, I was always called “Scrooge” because I didn’t care much for all of the ugly green and red decorations, annoying songs, and feeling like Santa is so creepy. But since being married to Travis, I have found a bit of an appreciation for it all. In the last few years, we started driving through neighborhoods just to find the brightest lit houses, purchased a real tree, and actually decorated it. We even started sending out Christmas cards. Maybe next year I will build a gingerbread house—maybe. Baby steps, you know?
When we were little, our family would go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down the “perfect tree,” go on a hayride, meet Santa, drink hot chocolate, and pick out a new ornament for that year. Then we’d go home and decorate the tree while listening to Mannheim Steamroller. We did this every year I can remember until we moved too far away from the Christmas tree farm.
Now our traditions are a bit different. We, as adult kids, and all the grandkids, spend the night at my parent’s house on Christmas Eve. My mom still buys us matching Christmas PJ’s, which we must wear. We watch Home Alone, then wake up Christmas morning to a large breakfast and open our presents. We also go see a family movie every Christmas afternoon. It’s the only time of year we will all go to a movie together.
In our family, we find that this time of year is best spent in the presence of our loved ones and have carried on traditions from each of our families. We often find ourselves at my parent’s house Christmas Eve for dinner, at my grandparents for Christmas day for lunch, and at a gathering of extended family to finish out Christmas day. All of these have two things in common: stories and laughter.
We also carry on traditions from Tirsa’s family. We place a manger next to our tree where we gather for stories of advent throughout the Christmas season. We also always read the book Clem, The Clumsy Camel when Christmas is upon us. We are reminded that we can come as we are, and that God never stops loving us, even when we fail. We then finish the story with homemade pizzas in the shape of Clem, The Clumsy Camel, and the star that guided him to Jesus!
This year, my wife Heather and I decided to take one of her favorite Christmas traditions and pass it on to our nieces and nephews. We invited them all over and made Christmas treats and crafts. From chocolate dipped pretzels to popsicle stick snowmen, we spread Christmas cheer into the night.
As our families grow – we plan to keep this tradition alive. Hopefully, the kids will remember it as warmly as we do. Here’s to being present more than buying presents, to stacking up memories instead of holiday debt, and to new traditions.
My favorite Christmas tradition is the surprise and anticipation my wife and I give the kids each year. Our oldest daughter was born on Christmas Eve. As a result, we open presents days or weeks before Christmas to create some separation between celebrating Christmas and her birthday.
Most of the time we choose to tell the Christmas story and open presents on an unsuspecting weekend morning. It starts by me reading from the Bible in Luke, chapter two. When I start doing reading, they know that present opening may be coming. The kids smile, giggle, and whisper to each other, “I think we are going to open presents today!” After reading, I ask them to recite John 3:16. Once I do that, they know it’s present time. Their eyes light up because we have the same dialogue around this verse each year. It goes something like this:
Kids: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Me: What does it say?
Kids: For God so loved the world that He gave his… Me: (interrupting) What did He do?
Kids: He loved and He gave.
Me: He what?
Kids: He loved and He gave!
Me: I don’t think I understand. I can’t really hear you. What did God do?
Kids: HE LOVED AND HE GAVE!
Me: That sounds beautiful! To celebrate what God did by giving us His son, Mommy and I want to give to you some Christmas gifts. Let’s open presents!
Then everyone yells and screams as we tear wrapping off boxes under the tree. I know there will be a day where they are too old to enjoy how I read from the Bible and the game I play with them using John 3:16, but for now, they love it—and so do I.
We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing some of our favorite memories and traditions from the Christmas season. We at Stewardship want to wish you fond memories of your own, and a very merry Christmas!