Whether you have a big family, kids, parents and in-laws, or none of that, the holidays are a great time to start or continue traditions.
Traditions help us feel connected to the holiday and give us a sense of comfort when things get overwhelming. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions, past and present, that I love and plan to carry with me for as long as I can.
Christmas Eve Church Service
I mentioned it briefly in this post, but going to my church on Christmas Eve has been a tradition of mine since I first started going back as an adult. It’s packed on Christmas Eve night with people looking for a place to celebrate the holiday, and it’s so nice seeing new faces, because it means they might decide to come back for a regular service and try it out. Christmas Eve is the only service I can ever get Shane to go with me to (although, I’ll give him credit; he comes and helps out around the church when I ask him to), but he always does it willingly and without arguing. My mom used to go, too, so it’ll be marked with a bit of sadness (as do all holidays when you lose someone), but it was one of her most beloved services, so it’s nice to know we can carry on with something she loved so much.
Since we don’t have kids, Shane and I don’t have to worry about Santa coming on Christmas Eve night. As long as we’ve been together, we’ve made it a point to open presents from each other on that evening (assuming he can wait that long to give me my gift) so we can go to whoever is hosting Christmas, or so we can do last minute prep for when we host.
Christmas Cookies for Santa
When we were kids, all the up until my last Christmas at home (I was 21 and engaged), we made Christmas cookies at home as a family. My stepdad would make the dough and we’d all choose our cookie cutters, and then my mom would make up her famous cream cheese cookie icing and we’d each get our cookies to decorate however we wanted. The older we got, the more inappropriate cookies made it into the mix – my stepbrothers were 19 and 17 at the time, so yes, there were penis cookies – but it was so much fun. Even if I had to work – which I usually did in retail – we all still made it a point to wait until everyone was home and we made cookies together.
When we were little, we used to be able to choose one gift to open on Christmas Eve. That started when I was about 10, and I remember getting the first two Harry Potter books. Ten-year-old me was not impressed, mind you, and Mom ended up taking them, reading them, and then making me read them. I’m forever grateful for that. But I digress. The older we got, the more purposeful they got with our Christmas Eve gifts, and started getting us special pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve so we could be in them when we opened presents the next morning. Even though we knew we were getting PJ’s, it was always fun to see what kind they found each year.
Those are my Christmas Eve traditions, past and present. What are yours? If you are starting new traditions this year, let me know what they are in the comments. I’d love to read yours and maybe implement them as part of my own traditions!