Where did your traditions start?

December 3, 2021

While the graphic points to a quaint belief about traditions starting at home, many traditions start somewhere else, usually Mom’s house or maybe even Grandma’s house. I remember that the first 5-10 years of our married life my wife and I (and eventually our kids) traveled back “home” to our parents houses for Christmas.

We had our own home, of course, whether it was an apartment or a house, but “home” for Christmas always meant going back to our parents’ houses. This was not a casual day trip since we lived several states away most of that time. So it was a multi-day stay, usually at my wife’s parent’s house.

Fortunately, our parents lived fairly close to each other, so we could celebrate with both sets of parents on that one trip. Also fortunate was that they had two different sets of Christmas traditions, at least in terms of the timing of things. My wife’s parents always celebrated on Christmas Eve bye going to a Christmas Eve church service during which time Santa would magically come and put presents under the tree. The kids didn’t figure out until later why Grandpa was always late getting to the car to leave for church. My family celebrated on Christmas morning, which gave Santa the rest of the night to get from my wife’s family home to my folk’s house and put out the presents.

It really wasn’t until the kids were of Middle School age that we started celebrating Christmas at our own home and adopted the Christmas Eve tradition. Once the kids were out on their own, we still observed the Christmas Eve tradition, with a Christmas Eve church service, dinner at a restaurant or at our house and opening of presents. That makes for a peaceful and quiet Christmas morning.

Sadly, but inevitably, the Christmas Eve tradition has morphed from lots of excitement and noise as toys were unwrapped into the more subdued enjoyment of seeing how much money is in the cards. Now that all the grandchildren are in Middle or High School clothes and money have become the de jure gifts. This year, for the first time, one of our children is hosting the Christmas Eve get together, so the tradition shifts again, as it should. We’re looking forward to again being guests at the celebration.

What are your Christmas traditions and how and where did they start? How have they shifted over time? What memories will your children have of your holiday traditions?