Christmas Eve Traditions

In honor of “Journal Your Christmas” I thought I’d share a little bit about our Christmas Eve traditions.

Our special tradition on Christmas Eve is that we give each family member two gifts.  One is a brand new set of winter pajamas.  This is a ritual that I brought over from my childhood.   Growing up, it was always such a thrill to get new pajamas to replace the tattered or outgrown ones from the year before.  That way we’d be extra warm and cozy on what seemed to be the longest night of the year.

Kevin in Pajamas

Do you remember lying in bed trying to fall asleep so morning would come more quickly?  Or listening to every little noise wondering what was going on below the Christmas tree?  Our bedrooms were upstairs and the Christmas tree and presents were always in the living room, which was directly at the bottom of the stairs to the right.  I don’t remember ever trying to peek and see what was happening, but I do remember lying awake listening and letting my imagination run wild.  There were a couple of times that I had to go downstairs to our only bathroom after bedtime and my parents stood in the doorway to the living room or closed the door to the room, blocking any glimpse that I might be tempted to steal.  It’s all o.k. though, because the suspense of waiting is half the fun of the big day!

The other new tradition that Terry and I started was to give each child an ornament to open on Christmas Eve.  These days you can find creative ornaments of every shape, size and theme.  So each year we try to find an ornament that commemorates an event, hobby or theme particular to the year and the person.  When Kevin played soccer he got a soccer ball ornament.  When Amy was singing a lot we bought musical notes.  Amy also went through a ballerina phase and Kevin plays guitar so each of those are reflected in their ornaments.  We also started giving our son-in-law, Andrew ornaments.  Sometimes it’s easy when they have a life changing event or a big trip, but as they get older it’s not always so easy so we’ll have to see what happens now that they have homes of their own and their Christmas trees are getting quite full.

These are some of Kevin’s collection of ornaments.  Click to enlarge and see the detail. Aren’t they fun?

Christmas Ornaments

We don’t really have food or activity traditions on Christmas Eve.  The food is probably due to the fact that growing up we didn’t really have any special meals that night and as our kids were growing up there was never anything that everyone asked for over and over.  Is that a reflection on my cooking or the fact that the rest of the family likes variety just like I do.

Sometimes I wish we had established more traditions over the years when our kids were growing up.  Do you think  the holiday would be more meaningful to them if we had or is it good the way it was?  Hmmm, I wonder…


Journal Your Christmas – Day 2 – Christmas Eve Traditions

Growing up we always had the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve and once in a while we were able to talk our parents into opening two (but not very often). The one gift that we always received on the night before Christmas was a new pair of pajamas.

It was so much fun to put on our new comfy PJs in preparation for the exciting sleepless night that was ahead. Once as a teenager I asked for and got a pair of pajamas with feet in them. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I use my foot as my temperature control when I’m in bed. If I’m too warm, I stick my foot out from under the blankets. Then if I’m cold, I pull it back under the blankets. That night when I was trying to sleep, I felt like my feet were in prison and it absolutely drove me crazy! Finally I had to change into some other pajama bottoms just to get to sleep and the next day I cut the feet off my new pajamas so I could use them.

Often when we got up in the morning my mom would have us all sit on the stairs and she would take a picture of us in our pajamas with our hair all wild and uncombed. I have a few of those pictures, but unfortunately, I can’t find them right now.
We continued the PJ tradition with our own family and added another one. Each year we buy a unique Christmas ornament for each of the kids and they get to open them on Christmas Eve as well.

We try to find something that symbolizes an activity, interest or accomplishment that they’ve had over the past year. They run the gamut from a ballerina bear to Marvin the Martian for Amy. Kevin got his share of the traditional sports ornaments (soccer & basketball) to musical instruments, etc. And now we’ve added Andrew to the list and we’re trying to get one for Terry and I together as well. I enjoy searching for something fun and unusual for them and who knows how long we’ll continue…maybe when they have kids we’ll stop giving to the parents…or maybe before that…we’ll see.

I’m not quite sure what we’ll do for Kevin this year, since he’s in the Middle East and can’t really keep an ornament with him traveling around. Maybe we’ll get one and hold onto it for him…we’ll see.

Since we moved back to Phoenix, we’ve added the tradition of attending the Christmas Eve service at Open Door Fellowship in the evening. The bonus is that Terry usually gets to play in the worship band at that service too. The privilege of playing music with such a dedicated group of musicians is always an honor for him and the highlight of any week. Truly, if he could only keep one activity in his life, it would probably be his music. He loves it and is honored to be able to share it with others!