Christmas has been my favorite time of year for as long as I can remember. There is something just so magical about this season, and even as an adult, it still feels almost as special as it did for me as a child. One of my favorite parts, and most magical, without a doubt, are the traditions. Somehow, the things that we save to do only at Christmastime, year after year, are one of the sweetest parts of this season. I hold the memories of the traditions that my sister and I did as little girls close to my heart and are grateful for the ones we have been able to continue as we’ve grown up.
Now that I’m married, I shared some of these traditions with Jody and we’ve added some of our own. Today, I’m sharing some of our favorite traditions with you! Most of these traditions are ones that Jody and I have established for just the two of us but I look forward to sharing these with our future family in Christmases to come.
THE CHRISTMAS CARD // I grew up in anticipation of my mom writing our annual Christmas letter that would be sent to family and friends summarizing our eventful year. To me, snail mail, especially at Christmastime, is such a special way to share the holidays with others, even if miles apart. Each November, I look forward to designing our card and we order them on Black Friday!
CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY // This is a tradition that my mom started when I was little. Instead of spending the day after Thanksgiving out shopping all of the sales, she spent the day baking. Originally, the day of baking started off as a gift for my dad but quickly evolved into a full-blown, 14 hours of baking all the cookies for the Christmas season, tradition. We typically clocked in around 120 dozen cookies! I treasure that time I got to spend with my mom and my sister and decided to continue that tradition, no matter where I spent Thanksgiving. Now, I make half of the cookies after my Thanksgiving, and my mom and sister make the other half. Jody has even helped me baking, although most of the time, he serves as the taste-tester!
CUTTING DOWN + DECORATING OUR TREE // I love Christmas tree farms. Picking out a Christmas tree always seems more exciting when you’re walking through rows and rows of trees in the crisp late fall air, surrounded by the smell of pine. Jody and I have been finding our tree at Christmas tree farms since we got married and there is something so magical about finding the perfect tree, cutting it down and carrying it across the lot to our car and through our house. While I usually take care of lighting the tree, Jody and I both hang the ornaments, sharing stories and memories of where we’ve collected these personal glimpses into our lives. We either have a Christmas movie or music playing to make the evening feel even more festive!
CHRISTMAS EVE // For us, Christmas Eve is a tradition inside itself. We spend the afternoon at my grandparents’ house, where we eat our traditional Christmas dinner of ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, and rolls. My mom has made Jesus’ birthday cake, which serves as dessert, for as long as I can remember, a tradition started by my grandmother when my dad was a child. We all end the evening at the 7:00pm Christmas Eve Candlelight service at either our church or my grandparents’ church.
CHRISTMAS EVE MOVIE + CHAMPAGNE // Growing up, every Christmas Eve after church, my family came home to set out cookies for Santa, open one gift, and then watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Since then, Jody and I adapted that tradition and made it our own. We instead pop a bottle of champagne and curl up on the couch and watch “A Christmas Carol”. It is such a classic and another great reminder of what this season is all about.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION // This is, by far, my favorite Christmas movie. After a year of poor judgment, Jody has joined in on all the fun. We compete to see how many times we can watch it each year, try to insert as many quotes from the movie into daily conversations, and of course, drink from our own moose mugs.
HEART ORNAMENT // This is another tradition that we’ve borrowed from my parents. When my parents were engaged, they started collecting a heart-shaped ornament for each Christmas they spent together. Now, almost 30 years later, their tree is full of heart ornaments! Jody and I loved the idea of looking at our tree in 30 years and seeing our life well-lived through this ornament collecting tradition. We try to find a heart that represents that year — our first married Christmas had two rings attached to it, our second was covered in gold swirls representing our travels, and this year’s matches our living room and is inscribed with “Home for the Holidays”. I can’t wait to see our collection grow!