Our Christmas Traditions

Everyone has Christmas traditions. These are ours, some intentional, some accidental, some created by necessity, but they’re all ours!

Christmas with the In-Laws



Our Christmas starts on Dec. 23 when we load the car after work and drive to central PA to visit my husband’s parents. We do Christmas with them on Christmas Eve, having a big meal at lunch (even though my mother-in-law insists on calling lunch dinner and dinner supper, which used to cause major confusion for me but now I know to expect dinner around one). Then it’s nap time for the kids (and often me), followed by church at 6:30, then we go back to their house and open presents.

Christmas Eve at GiGi’s House


Christmas Eve at GiGi's


My husband’s 91 year-old grandmother raised 9 children, so many years ago she decided that everyone would come over for Christmas Eve and then they could spend Christmas Day at home or with other members of their family. So around 9 p.m. we go to GiGi’s (as my kids call her). This year there where about 50 people (9 kids, plus spouses, their kids and spouses and their kids equals a LOT of people. 50 is actually small). We eat dinner (sorry, supper) around 10:30 and then the tables is cleared and the presents make their way down the stairs, passed from one person to another, until the table is stacked. Around 11:30 the kids start chanting “presents, presents” and we’ll sing Christmas songs until the stroke of midnight (when it’s actually Christmas) and THEN we can open presents (see the need for the nap?). Then there’s a wrapping paper fight, which Buddy started this year.

Pittsburgh or Bust


Cookies for Santa


After the presents have been opened we pile two exhausted kids into the car and drive home. Yes, at about 1 a.m. Most people think we a crazy, but it it so much easier this way. Our other options are to drag all of Santa’s gifts to the in-laws, which means we don’t get to have Christmas morning at our house, or we have to make the kids wait almost 2 hours after they get up to drive home and see what Santas brought them. This way we get the best of both worlds – we spend Christmas Eve with the hubby’s family and then we get our Christmas with the kids.

Christmas Morning


Christmas Morning


Christmas mornings are pretty much the way they were when I grew up, except the kids don’t get to put cookies out for Santa the night before (although we make sure we do that before we fall into bed around 3 a.m.).  The kids will creep downstairs, discover Santa came, then come up to wake us up. They are allowed to look in their stockings but nothing else until we come downstairs.

Grandma’s House


Christmas at Grandma's


After breakfast, opening and playing with gifts, and generally hanging out, we get ready and head to my mom’s for the afternoon. My sister and her 3 kids come as well, so it’s pretty much mass chaos while presents are being  opened. Without fail my mother will lose one gift and give the wrong gift to someone. This year she lost the cross she bought my in-laws (it was opened by my sister, who declared “I found it!” when she opened it) and my daughter opened gloves meant for my niece. She almost always forgets one thing for the dinner table, which is usually realized to late to either cook it or at the end of the meal when no one wants it. This year, somehow, that didn’t happen, which was almost a disappointment!

Celebration of Lights


Hartwood Celebration of Lights


My parents live near the Hartwood Celebration of Lights so we go through it on our way home. This year we left my mom’s later than usual, and after two pretty crazy days Sass fell asleep less than halfway through it. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed it, however.

So, what are your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) traditions?

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