Seven members of our church staff responded to two questions about their family’s Christmas traditions.
What was your family’s most meaningful Christmas tradition?
As young siblings, the three of us put on a short program for our parents. One of us read the Christmas story from Luke, we all sang a Christmas hymn and one of us prayed. It was the same every year but that is what made it a tradition.
Decorating Christmas cookies with my grandma. We always used the powdered sugar and food coloring to make the frosting. We ate a lot of the cookies as they “accidentally” broke. I love that my kids are keeping that tradition going!
As a family, we always have read through the advent book that goes through the book of Matthew.
We had an Advent activity calendar that we used to help our kids to focus not on one day, but the whole month. Each day had an ornament to hang on the advent tree and an activity to do. Activities included things that we would already do, like school concerts, making cookies, The Wonders of Christmas, or special things like movie nights or looking at Christmas lights. Bob and I also scheduled shopping with each child to pick out presents for their siblings and the other parent. I even continued the first couple of years they were away at college and added activities like making gingerbread houses and singing Christmas carols with their roommates. It was a way to spread the joy of the season out over the month. They have all told me they plan to continue this tradition with their kids. (The original idea was presented in the 1990s at MOPS by Michelle Schwaninger, wife of a former pastor here.)
On Christmas Eve, our family would all work in the kitchen during the day, preparing appetizers for after church that night and our Christmas dinner for the next day. We’d all then get dressed up and drive over to church and attend the Christmas Eve service together. After that, our grandma and aunt would come over for appetizers and chocolate fondue.
Decorating the Christmas tree and the house on Thanksgiving weekend with Christmas music playing in the background. But lately, a close second has become going to the Christmas Eve service and getting a bunch of fast food for dinner on the way home.
On Christmas Eve we would gather at my grandparents’ house with loads of amazing food. A Christmas movie played in the background. We would gather in the small living room and stack our gifts all around us. We would all take turns opening gifts and enjoy what that person received. When we were done, we would sit around playing with our new toys, but the thing that I loved the most was that we were all together in one small room laughing and spending time together without any distractions.
What was your family’s strangest Christmas tradition?
Our Christmas eve meal was probably strange to people since we didn’t all eat the same thing. We had our Norwegian Krub dinner, but added Chinese take-out for my mom!
When I was growing up, my sister would dress up like Santa and run around outside. In the snow. Banging on windows. Not sure what that was all about but I have fond memories of it. This activity both scared and intrigued my youngest brother so much that he was not a big fan of Santa.
In my family, we make Santa head cookies that have been made for almost 100 years.
We do a “backwards dinner” on the night we decorate our Christmas Tree. We have desert first, usually ice cream, and then soup for dinner.
Our family loves to give gifts to one another. Whether it is a silly or meaningful gift, we have always had fun thinking through what to get for each other. My all-time favorite Christmas memory was one year when my sister and I asked for an unusual gift. We loved to pretend we were teachers, and we begged our mom and dad for an overhead projector. We had a dream of one day being able to “teach” each other and share our lesson plans, as they were projected on the wall of our dining room. Early that Christmas morning, my sister and I snuck down the steps to see if we had received it and as we opened gifts, we got a package of transparencies and we knew our mom and dad had given it to us! We couldn’t have been more excited!
Need proof? Here’s the home video.
Everyone in our family gets $5 and then we go to the Dollar store. Whoever gets the best gift for under $5 is declared the shopping champion of the world. Well, at least the champion of our family.
My grandma would get each grandchild Lifesaver Books in our stockings. It consisted of eight rolls of lifesavers, which are really pretty terrible, but we would always look for that first when opening our stockings!