Christmas Memories & Traditions

Every family seems to have their own traditions and ways to celebrate Christmas, and my family certainly did as well.


Our plans and traditions have changed a bit as we got older. I remember the first year my parents didn’t get a real tree—my siblings and I were super upset. I think it was something like 20+ years of real trees, and then bam! a fake one. Whyyyy?! Actually, I totally get why…Tim and I have a fake tree. No one likes finding pine needles four months after Christmas.

Now that Tim and I have been married for a year and we’re coming up on our third Christmas living together, I want to start doing things on/around Christmas that make the holiday special to us as a couple and someday as a family with kids. One thing that we already do is that we both help decorate the tree. I think the tree sat untouched for almost a week because I refused to decorate it by myself. Another thing is driving through Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park.

So here’s a few of my favorites things my family did while I was growing up…

Christmas Eve
Every year on Christmas Eve we would go to the early service at church and then head to my grandparent’s farm for dinner and gifts. Before my Great Grandma died, we’d go to her house with almost the entire extended family. Normally there’d be oyster stew and another type of soup for us kids. Other years we’d have turkey or ham. We were never allowed to open gifts until all of the dinner dishes were washed and put away. I have to mention that my grandparents didn’t have a dishwasher then, so everything was washed by hand. Being a kid at this point was always hard.

Breaking the Peppermint Pig is also something we do every year on Christmas Eve. I definitely want to do this with mine and Tim’s future family. I didn’t start fully appreciating this until a few years ago, but I think it’s just a great thing to do with everyone gathered around the table after dinner.

“After the holiday dinner, the Pig was passed amongst those gathered, each in turn giving the pouch a firm tap and sharing a tale of the past year’s good fortune. The delicious broken peppermint and warm memories were enjoyed by all in hopes of prosperity for the coming year.”

After getting home from my grandparent’s, my parents would allow my brother, my sister and myself to open our gifts from each other—our “sibling” gifts. This changed as we got older since my mom didn’t think it was as necessary, but I still ask to do this almost every year :)

Christmas Day
Christmas Day was a “hurry up and wait” game for us. Because my dad is a farmer, he had to get up super early to feed cattle and do chores on Christmas morning. This meant that we had to wait for him to come home and get cleaned up, so it was normally mid to late morning before we could open gifts. When you’re an impatient 8 year old, it’s not fun! Now, I would take the chance to sleep in and relax before a day of craziness starts!

After we opened gifts, we would always head over to my grandparent’s in Iowa and spend the night. Since they didn’t have a fireplace, my Grandma always hung our stockings on the stair banister. Each of us grandkids had our own homemade stocking, which are still used today! I was the nosiest little kid ever when it came to Christmas, so one year my gifts were hidden in the basement instead of put under the tree. I’m pretty sure I thought I was being treated unfairly during the joke.


I’m excited to head back to Nebraska for a few days around the holidays to see my family before spending time with Tim’s family. Hope everyone has a nice Christmas season!


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