We thought it would be fun for each of us to share some of our favorite Christmas traditions as we are all getting ready to celebrate the holidays with our friends and family. We hope you enjoy a glimpse into our lives during the holiday season and see a few of our favorite things!
Brooke’s Favorite Things
I must say that Christmas is my favorite time of year. I always look at it as a chance to reflect and think about all of the amazing blessings and adventures the year has brought. There is still something magical about Christmas lights, baking, wrapping presents and basking in the glow of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
My favorite thing to do is collecting Christmas ornaments to commemorate momentous occasions and trips. Every year when my husband and I get our Christmas tree up and our ornaments out, it’s a chance to look back at not only the past year but many years of amazing memories and experiences which I feel embody the spirit of Christmas. Unwrapping each ornament is like unwrapping a special memory to relive again. Everything from the finger painted popsicle stick creations made as children, to the glittery Mickey Ears from our first trip to Disneyworld, to the glass bulb we made together for our anniversary in a glass blowing class…they all unlock the positive feelings of gratitude and happiness of years past. It’s a time to remember all the amazing opportunities we have had thus far.
Taking the ornament tradition a step further, I am super thankful we add a picture frame ornament of my husband and I each year as well. When we got together 10 Christmases ago, I thought it would be cool to commemorate our first Christmas together with a picture ornament. Each year since, we have picked a new ornament and one photo from the year that kind of sums up our favorite memory and put them together. We now have a tree that tells the story of our lives together and will only continue to grow! Some day we will have a tree of just us! We have our “First Christmas” ornament that shows us at Clifton Mills for the first time. We have an ornament that shows when we got engaged and when we got married. We showed our first trip to Disney and our first family photo when we added our little ball of fur, Charlie. Our life sporadically placed throughout our twinkling Christmas tree for all to see and for us to remember.
Every year I take these ornaments out separately and think back about the life I have created with my husband. About how many adventures we have had. About how many obstacles we have overcome together, and how many things we still have left to do. It’s a moment for us to share with each other each holiday season to remind us that no matter how busy life gets or how many things get thrown our way, we still have a pretty amazing life together.
Jenny’s Favorite Things
Christmas has always been a whole family affair for us. Growing up, we had a Christmas tree in practically every room of the house. My two sisters and I each had a full size tree in our bedrooms which coordinated with the room and/or our interests. We would ALWAYS have what my mom would call the “kid tree.” This was the primary tree and it was always decorated with multi-colored lights. Every year we would add ornaments to this tree – some would be the ones of us visiting Santa, some were paper ones we made when we would visit Mr. Tree at the old Lazarus store in Columbus, there were even little handmade wooden cars. As our home was remodeled the tree just seemed to get larger and larger. This tree is now a fully-decorated 12-foot tree with stuffed animals at the top and ornaments that have documented our childhood up through today.
Another tradition when we were younger was Santa. We would always put out cookies and milk for Santa and of course we would have to put out some carrots for the reindeer. We would place these next to the fireplace in our front room with our special notes to the big man. When we would wake up in the morning we would rush into mom and dad’s room to wake them up and run downstairs to see if Santa had visited. We’d see an empty glass of milk with just a few cookie crumbs and then we’d check the front porch and see remnants of carrots out in the front yard from the reindeer eating the carrots. Oh how magical that was to us!! There under the tree in the front room, we would find our gifts from Santa. Santa’s gift were always unwrapped and fully assembled under the tree (why does he need to wrap them?? He and the elves made them!). There would just be a couple for each of us (mainly whatever highly prized item we had asked him for that year…a bike, a Barbie dream house, Teddy Ruxpin, etc.). We would then go into the family room and begin unwrapping all the family gifts. We would literally take ALL morning opening our gifts – not because we necessarily had a huge amount but because we all took turns and unwrapped each gift individually. This is something we still do today and I love it because it stretches out all the festivities. Now we just make sure to get the coffee brewed and the breakfast casserole out of the oven before we begin. 🙂
The strangest tradition that we had when we were kids came as result of many years of the 3 of us shaking gifts trying to figure out what we were getting. My mom decided to concoct a code for our gifts. It started out as a simple one (A-658, L-8023, T-45 where unbeknowst to me A-H were my gifts) and progressed to quite elaborate codes (Reindeer hate Grapes, Mommy rode a bike to town, etc.) that we would always try to decipher…sometimes all my gifts woud be ones that mentioned a form of transportation while one of my sister’s would have anything that involved fruits/vegetables. This would change every year! We would never know which gift was ours. We would spend the weeks leading up to Christmas writing down all the codes and trying to figure it out before Christmas morning…we were never successful! The gift codes became just as much a part of the holidays as watching White Christmas, baking cookies, and listening to carols on our antique music box.
Jennifer’s Favorite Things
Christmas traditions are special to not only me, but my entire family as well. There are several that we share but my favorite is our Christmas Eve tradition of going to church as a family. Since I was a little girl this was something we’ve always done together. We dressed up and ventured out to Maple Street Methodist Church. My Aunt would arrive early to ensure we had a pew reserved all to ourselves. The service was always beautiful but my favorite part was the last song we sang as a congregation, Silent Night. The entire congregation received candles, the lights would dim and we would sing. As a little girl I thought this was so neat. As an adult I can’t make it through without crying…it just tugs at my heartstrings too much.
After church we would go to my grandmother’s house and enjoy soup and homemade Christmas cutout cookies. We always wrapped up the night with the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Although our tradition as changed slightly over the years – eating dinner together, enjoying my grandmother’s Christmas cookies and going to church has remained the same. Since my grandmother’s passing, I always make sure our family still enjoys her famous Christmas cutout cookies each year. We might not have all of our loved ones with us but keeping traditions and memories the same are what make Christmas Eve so special for our family.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!