Christmas is a big deal for my family. Especially because my birthday is three days prior to Jesus'! Growing up, we had traditions that we kept every holiday season. It's hard to make sure we check them all off our list now that my sister and I are grown, but do our best to keep as many as possible. Our family is full of traditions so buckle up as I share my crazy family's idea of Christmas fun.
1. Parade hopping
It seems as though we went to a different Christmas parade every year. Nonetheless, whether it was a tiny parade with only a couple of floats or a large one with floats, car, and horses, we always made an effort to watch a Christmas parade of some kind.
No matter which parade we went to, there were two elements that were always present: candy and Santa!!!
2. All the food
From sausage balls to pigs-in-a-blanket on Christmas morning, my mom always made the best food around Christmas.
One of my favorite traditions was making homemade treats for my teachers with my mom. We made these white chocolate-dipped Ritz crackers with peanut butter sandwiched between them-delicious!!
3. Gatherings and parties galore
Christmas dinners on both of my parents' sides of the family was always something I looked forward to growing up. I would run around and play with my cousins until time to eat and then of course open presents.
We also had Christmas parties with ladies from our church where we would play dirty santa-a game that kept us laughing.
The day after Thanksgiving, I got to help my mom pull out all of our Christmas decorations from containers in storage.
We always seemed to have so many exciting decorations! One of my favorites was a Christmas village that we would set up on top makeshift felt "snow."
I would also assist my dad in putting the lights on our house, which actually meant I would stand in the yard telling him if any of the strands did not look as I thought it should.
Of course, nothing could be compared to putting up our Christmas tree, stringing it with lights, and covering it with what seemed like thousands of sentimental ornaments.
5. Church activities
A Christmas play. A ladies' Christmas banquet. Christmas caroling in the community.
A special activity that our church members participated in was building fruit baskets for the elderly in our community. Even more heart-warming was helping to personally deliver the fruit baskets. Seeing the joy on these individuals' faces filled me with an indescribable joy myself.
6. The lost gift hunt
EVERY year, my mom would "misplace" a gift for one of us kids or my dad.
It never fails every year. After we finish opening our gifts, my mom will say, "I have one more gift for you somewhere; I just cannot remember where I put it!"
Eventually...in January or February...my mom will find the gift and give it to the lucky person who it belongs to, except for the wallet my mom never found that she bought for dad...
7. Mountain getaways
The Great Smoky Mountains are particularly beautiful during the winter and celebrating Christmas there is a remarkable experience. They have the town covered in lights and decorations, and the bakeries have all sorts of Christmas treats.
8. Christmas Eve pajama party
My parents always gave us new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve for my sister and I to wear. To be honest, I still get excited about this one.
Then we would feast on ham, dressing, mac n' cheese, green beans, and rolls-all made by my mom.
We were allowed to open one gift, but that is it.
9. And drumroll please.....Christmas morning
As I mentioned, we started the day with pigs-in-a-blanket for breakfast and then opened the mountain of gifts that "Santa" had brought us.
After we spent hours marveling over all of our presents, we would join other family members at my great-grandmother Ruth's house for lunch and more gift-giving. I cherish those memories.
Christmas is my favorite time of year and these family traditions make it all the more wonderful.