The Once-A-Month Question (December Edition)


Another month begins, and it’s my favorite month of them all.

DECEMBER.  The month of joy and cheer and Christmas lights and fireplaces and music and stockings and jackets and scarves and baked goods and shopping and bright-colored wrapping and all-around anticipation.  *happy sigh*  I’ve always loved Christmas time, but with my three year old now old enough to understand more of what’s going on, I’m enjoying it on an entirely new level.

Last month, during our Once-A-Month Question, I asked you all how old your children were.  I loved the response I got!  As a blogger, I’m always curious about who reads what I write.  Putting families to names, of regular commenters and one-time commenters alike, was such a rewarding experience!  I wish you could understand how much I enjoy getting to know you better!

So without further adieu, this month’s question involves Christmas memories.  What memorable traditions does your family have?

This can be something you grew up with or something you have done or wish to do for your own children.   It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant.  My husband’s family had a Christmas morning tradition where the children were able to empty out their stockings as soon as they awoke in the morning.  (My family always opened them together on Christmas Eve.)

I’ll go first:

This is the second year I’ve put together an Advent calender for my husband and the boys.  I divided the Christmas story into 25 sections and put them into envelopes.  Each envelope has a reading and a treat for each of them.  My husband has a variety of coupons (for a back massage, his pick of a movie, special dates planned, etc) and the boys have a small sugary treat in each (from a mini variety pack I got on sale after Halloween).  Each morning, my husband gets the next numbered envelope out and reads the scripture story aloud.  Then the boys pounce on the treats and enjoy a few skittles before breakfast.  (Not usually the trademark of a great Mom, but hey!  It’s Christmastime!)

I’m looking forward to reading what traditions you’ve created.  Now it’s your turn!  Go!



27 thoughts on “The Once-A-Month Question (December Edition)

  1. Cassie says:

    My little is 4 and for the second year in a row, we’re doing the Elf on the Shelf. She has named ours PIxie and she loves seeing where PIxie is each morning. We’re also doing an Advent calendar, with chocolate candies each day, for the first time. I just bought ours from our local high school’s German Club for $3. She also gets to shop each year for a very inexpensive Christmas ornament for the tree for each member of our family (me, her, my parents,her aunt and uncle etc.)

    I’m trying to establish new traditions for us to do as a family since I went through a awful divorce 2 years ago and this is our first Christmas with a new relationship so I want some fun ideas for new traditions for us. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s ideas.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Thanks for sharing, Cassie! That Elf on the Shelf idea sounds fun as well! What a fun thing to wake up to each morning.

  2. My family has had several Christmas traditions over the years! Some have stuck, and some haven’t, but I have definitely loved every single one. The ones that we still carry on today are that the whole family gets together on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we all gather mid-afternoon and enjoy shrimp and cocktail sauce and a cheese ball while that evening’s dinner is cooking. We always have Chili, and before both of my grandfathers died we made oyster stew for them. Sometimes we still do just so the youngsters can try it and we can tell them all the stories (again) about their great-grandfathers and what wonderful men they were. Oyster stew has since morphed into potato soup! After dinner we all gather in the family room to open presents. After 23 years my little sister and I still sort through the huge pile under the tree and bring everyone their gifts. Pretty soon we’ll have to pass this job onto the next generation, which is something I’m both excited for and said about. The end of the last bit of childhood to which I think we all cling (especially at Christmastime).

    On Christmas morning we have mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls and dad makes his famous eggs and pancakes. After breakfast everyone opens their stockings before we start cooking our huge Christmas meal. Mom always fills stockings with lots of candy and useful things we all run short on throughout the year. There’s always a toothbrush and floss (she used to be a dental hygienist), and usually plenty of “office supplies:” sticky notes, sharpies, white-out, paperclips, and some funky pen that kids are always begging mom to buy in the checkout line at the drugstore. We’ve even had underwear in there a time or two… She guffaws whenever someone finds the latest kooky item.

    My favorite bygone tradition was putting up the Christmas tree. Dad always brought it out of storage for us, but then it was just mom, me, and my baby sis. Mom made sugar cookies while sis and I hung all the ornaments to one of Manheim Steamroller’s Christmas albums. They really know how to jazz up the old favorites! When we were all finished, the three of us would decorate cookies together. I think this one saw its last day the year I started college and had a fairly busy waitressing job. It’s also one I hope to carry on with my kids when they get old enough.

    Thanks for asking this question, it’s so great to vividly relive these memories every year.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      What great memories! It’s so much fun coming from a family with great holiday creations and then trying to recreate them for our children! Thanks for sharing, Jordan!

  3. Jen says:

    besides all the fun memories of baking cookies together etc one that I love was before opening gifts we all gathered and read the Christmas story from the Bible to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Then we usually started with the youngest to oldest and opened gifts one at a time so everyone could see who got what and it wasn’t such a mad house of everyone opening all at once.

  4. Tricia Regar says:

    Hmm… traditions! Something we used to do every year was to meet our grandmother at the mall. She’d give us an envelope full of money ($25 maybe?), and we could walk around with her and buy whatever we wanted. It seems like we’d often go out to lunch, too. There would be huge Christmas trees at the mall, all lighted up, and Christmas music playing… it’s a great memory!

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Oh, that sounds so fun! I’ve always received money from my grandparents as well, but watching the little ones spend it seems like such a wonderful grandchild/grandparent outing! Thanks for sharing, Tricia!

  5. Tricia Regar says:

    Your tree looks so beautiful, by the way! Have you already put up your tree this year?

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      And thanks! Yes, that picture was taken the morning of the blog post. The tree has a few quirks (like the lights don’t work at the top), but I still love it. 🙂 We always put decorations up the day after Thanksgiving.

  6. Coco Lucas says:

    We have a few that we have taken from both families (my family and my husbands)
    1. Christmas Eve Pajamas. Growing up my parents always got us new pj’s that we opened up on Christmas Eve, we have continues this with our kids, and I am sure they don’t appreciate it yet, but hopefully they will someday.

    2. Christmas Jars ( my Mother In Law started this a while back and we have since participated, where we contribute change into a jar to help bless a family. We also buy gifts for a family in need and send my Father in Law out dressed as Santa to deliver the gifts as we all wait patiently in the car. SO MUCH FUN!

    3. Christmas Lights. We go out one night and drive around looking at Christmas Lights. We also try to make it to Mesa AZ (about 3.5 hours from home) to see the LDS Temple lights. Always a blast for the kids.

    4. During the month of December (okay the end of November too) we watch a Christmas movie as a family on Sunday Night. Make Hot Chocolate and some cookies and call it a party. The kids look forward to it and ask for our family movie night.

    These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I know there are more, but these would be the major ones. We plan on starting new ones as the kids get a bit older too.

  7. wendi kenny says:

    As a child we always got new pajamas Christmas eve and now do that with my own daughter who is now 13. Also every year growing up we would make popcorn balls for Christmas, my sister continues that tradition for our kids and we now invite other family members and friends to help out.

  8. Janie De Lara says:

    We are a small, blended family. My husband and I have been together three years and I have an eleven year old son. My husband and I are both Catholic, but he is Mexican, so we have some very different traditions. The three of us…and myself and my son before hubby came along, set up a Jesse tree every year in addition to the Christmas tree, for Advent. Every day of Advent we light the corresponding candle in the Advent wreath and hang our Jesse tree ornament for the day and read the Bible story that goes with it. I made the ornaments myself with sculpty clay and carved the day and verse on the back.

    Another tradition we have is to have a traditional Christmas feast and activity and/or story from another country..we usually do this the week before the holiday. We have done Greece, Poland, England, Mexico, Holland and Scotland. I usually try to make or find an ornament or decoration to go with the year’s country.

    Also, for Advent, we set up the manger scene one piece at a time. A tree today, a goat tomorrow, a sheep the next day, etc. All the while, Mary and Joseph travel all over the house, on their journey to Bethlehem, finally arriving Christmas eve. I get up early Christmas morning and put Jesus in the manger.

    finally, since meeting my handsome hubby, we celebrate Las Posadas with his family. His sister orchestrates the whole thing. We pray and sing to welcome Baby Jesus, pray a rosary and travel house to house trying to find shelter for Mary and Joseph so we can welcome the Baby Jesus. When he arrives, we all kiss him and cuddle him before putting him in the manger. And then we stuff ourselves with tamales and mexican hot chocolate.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      What fun! My mother is part Puerto Rican and they have some cultural traditions as well. Have you ever heard of Three Kings Day? It has something to do with leaving hay out for their camels and when the ‘Wise Men’ come in the middle of the night, they leave behind gifts. It’s a more biblical Santa variant I always thought was fun! Thanks for sharing, Janie!

      • My best friend is from PR and her family celebrates TheThree Kings on Epiphany. We do too, but on a smaller scale. Her whole house is decorated specifically for that holiday. Our Nativity scene wise men take a similar journey to mary and joseph and then arrive on Epiphany. Animals also get blessed on Epiphany…the legend is they are granted the ability to talk just for the day. Obviously it isn’t true, but it is the 12th and last day of Christmas, and it is fun to see all the animals at church that day getting blesses…the kids love it.

  9. Every Christmas morning we come downstairs, see if Santa’s been (but are not allowed to touch the wrapped gifts). We then have breakfast of tinned ham, bread and tomato sauce. Sounds gross right? It’s actually pretty yummy, especially as we only have it once a year! This comes from my Grandfather who worked on submarines for the British Navy and considered this an extra-special treat when serving over Christmas.
    Dishes are then washed and we all get dressed before opening the presents one by one so everyone can see what everyone else got, and there’s more time for gratefulness.

    I love it!

  10. Kaelyn says:

    I’ve got a big family. We always get together with all the cousins for Christmas Eve dinner. My Granddad would put on the Father Christmas hat and all the younger cousins would be his elves and bring presents to everyone. Then at home we open our stockings and gifts from each other on Christmas morning in our pj’s.
    I love the idea of doing an Advent calendar with scriptures to read every day.

  11. Beth S. says:

    Our Advent Calendar uses the felt symbols from the book, “Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in your holidays and special occasions” by Ann Hibbard. Each morning, the kids velcro a felt circle ornament (with a Christian symbol on it) onto a cloth tree banner (all made Before Kids!). They have a Bible reference on the back. Then one child hides the Nativity-Set-Piece-of-the-day and the others hunt for it. Stockings are low-key and opened on Christmas morning, though we may celebrate “Christmas morning” on a different day, after we get home from our trip to the grandparents.

  12. Carolyn Christiansen says:

    CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS: We don’t have a fireplace (sadly), but we ‘hang’ up the stockings for the kids on Christmas Eve and fill the toe with an orange or clementine, candy, a new toothbrush (appropriately), a small flashlight with batteries (which they use on Christmas morning, along with the Christmas lights, instead of turning on lights), and a special treat (each child has their “favorite”). We have 6 children, ages 23 down to 6, so this usually involves an entire BAG of their favorite candy…yes, their stockings are BIG! They enjoy those, and a Danish kringle and milk because the first (and only) meal of the day begins at 1 pm!

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