Family Christmas Traditions

When I was growing up, we opened one (1) present on Christmas Eve. That wouldn’t work anymore, as the wife and I always exchange exactly one gift, which are the only ones we ever get now. What traditions are unique to your family?

When I was a kid: Advent calendar, go Christmas caroling at the old folks home with the girl scouts, set up tree, get sent to room for knocking over tree, put presents under tree, have pet guinea pig find the presents and chew off the wrapping paper, make Christmas cookies, have kids next door invite themselves over to eat the cookies, play German Christmas carols record, make eggnog and “accidentally” knock back a gulp of the grown-ups eggnog. On Christmas morning, open presents that the piggy hadn’t opened for us, make Christmas dinner, play with toys, invite family friend from old folks home over for dinner, and then put on puppet show to hopefully amuse the adults. Sometimes we’d finish off the big day by going out to look at Christmas lights.

Now: Gripe about Christmas. Buy a few things for the Salvation Army, listen to “Santa Got Stoned At Christmas,” get present from Mom even after I told her not to get me anything, gripe some more, buy Chinese food or eat at all-u-can eat Chinese buffet on the big day, talk to folks, then thank Og it’s over. Though I still love me some Christmas lights.

Our family tradition was a fight over who forgot to get the tree, followed by a slamming door and the car throwing gravel as one or the other parent stormed out very late on 12/24. Eventually, a tree would appear in the living room, hopefully with some needles still attached to the branches and tall enough that we didn’t have to hide it behind the sofa, propped up on books. Good times.

We used to do the open one present on the Eve thing, too. So that means neither of us is unique, I suppose.

Hmm, this one might count as unique. I have a family member that has some sort of sensitivity to the color red. So our family Christmas gatherings include tons of people attired in some kind of festive holiday wear, but in purples and greens and whatever, no red.

Unique to our family:
-Gifts get opened from my side and each other (parents to kids, and vice versa) on Christmas Eve
-Gifts from my wife’s side and Santa get opened on Christmas morning
-Potato pancakes, bacon and mimosas for Christmas breakfast

We always decorated our tree on the 12th as part of my birthday celebration. We’d have cake and play the first carols of the year and I’d get to open my birthday presents like it was Christmas. That was my favorite holiday tradition. It was all about me! :slight_smile:

We always opened two gifts on Christmas Eve. One pair of fresh pyjamas and a toy of some sort. My mom went broke every year trying to make all our holiday wishes come true. She made it magical too. We’d have several gifts from Santa plus our stockings full (always with a fresh toothbrush, candied fruits, nuts and the little footballs with an orange stuck in the toe). After gifts were opened we would go to my grandparents house a few blocks over and stuff our faces for the next six hours. The evening would be spent in a carb laden haze.

My tradition now is baking with my daughters to make gifts to share with our family. In the past few days we’ve done decorated cut-outs, coconut bars, Amish buttermilk cookies, peppermint bark, butterscotch peanut bark, and pretzel fudge.We don’t really purchase any gifts other than the tins I put the treats inbut I got a few things for my youngest from Santa. It’s kind of sad though, today she announced that she knows I’m Santa so looks like that tradition just bit the dust.

On the 24th of December, the members of our family all strive to be the first to say to each other, “Merry Christmas Eve.” Supposedly, if you say it to someone before they say it to you, that person has to buy you an extra gift. We don’t actually carry through with that part, but we’re dead serious about “getting” each other. Anyone who calls one of our homes on this day will hear the phone answered, “Merry Christmas Eve” rather than hello.

I think it’s a rather practical tradition, as it keeps us all out of each other’s hair on what is generally a busy day.

Mom forgot and called me a little while ago and I totally got her. There was a moment of stunned silence and then she said, “Well, aren’t you the brat from hell.” :smiley:

Sitting here giving blood, a Christmas Eve tradition. Open one present tonight, usually a game.

Back when I lived with my parents, pretty much the only tradition was, Christmas dinner (a) started with tortellini soup, and (b) had prime rib as the main course.

Today, I have a few traditions of my own:

  1. The tree (artificial) goes up the day after Thanksgiving - in fact, I usually post the first lighting on Facebook (search “national artificial christmas tree”)
  2. On 12/23, I post a Facebook message that says, “There is no such thing as Christmas Adam!” (Christmas Adam is something “celebrated” in some houses where they open one present on Christmas Eve; some smartass kid must have said, “Well, Adam came before Eve, so doesn’t Christmas Adam come the day before Christmas Eve, and shouldn’t we get to open a present then as well?”)
  3. I spend Christmas Eve watching (a) the Pope’s mass live from St. Peter’s, (b) a handful of Christmas TV specials (The Dick Van Dyke Show gets a lot of play, as well as the three Futurama and two Animaniacs ones), and © the San Francisco Ballet version of The Nutcracker set in 1915 San Francisco.
  4. The tree comes down on 12/26. (Something I picked up on another TV Christmas episode.)

Barracudas on Christmas morning.

we had one that started with my mom’s family that I now think was a…well, corruption isn’t rally the right word,but I’ll go with it…of the St. Nicholas Day tradition of setting out shoes.

Mom always called it the Biltz (Bilts?) Man, who I always pictured as an elf. We’d put shoes by the door from Thanksgiving night to Dec 23rd and usually get candy (or sometimes a note reminding us to be good, depending on our behavior). I’ve never found anyone else who’s heard of it, so I don’t know if it was something misremembered by my grandmother when she passed it down to the kids, or if she just made it up, or what.

My parents would stuff the stockings with trinkets and lay them on the bed for us to wake up to - it would buy them a little time before we hauled ass to the tree. Of course by the time I was a teen they had to yell at me to get up; sleeping was more important (and I knew the presents weren’t going anywhere).

Also Dad would make ‘milk toast’ which was a peppery scrambled egg in milk concoction spread over buttered toast for breakfast. Yum!

When my daughters were little, they were allowed to go downstairs any time Christmas morning, get stuff out of their stockings and watch TV as long as the volume was turned down so low that I couldn’t hear it. They were given a specific time at which they were allowed to waken us so we could all open presents together. When they turned into teenagers we were the ones to awaken them and we had a nice cooked breakfast together before the presents.

After the younger was in Kindergarten I went back to work. That first Christmas I was so rushed, still needing to do some baking and wrapping, so I suggested that we just get pizza in lieu of cooking dinner. For some reason that wasn’t satisfactory (maybe the pizzeria was closed?) and we ended up going to a local Japanese restaurant. The next year we did the same thing and that was enough to turn it into a mandatory activity for Christmas Eve until they were well into their teens.

In 2009, I was doing my Christmas shopping at a local department store when I saw a display of Barack Obama Chia pets. My sister always liked Chia pets when she was little, so I thought it’d be funny to get one for her and give it to her.

Apparently she didn’t think it was that funny, since instead of using it, she held onto it for a year and gave it back to me the following Christmas.

So I followed suit the next year.

We’ve been trading it back and forth ever since. I just gave it to her again today.

My family opened a gift on Christmas Eve when I was small, and I have continued the tradition, but I have never heard of Christmas Adam before. It was just something we did.

The children open an individual gift and a family gift on Christmas Eve. The individual gift is always new jammies. When my boys were growing up the family gift was a vhs or dvd of a Christmas movie. So open jammies, have cookies and milk or cocoa and watch a new holiday movie.

Now we only see them every other Christmas as they alternate sides for going home for Christmas. We still give the grand boys new jammies on Christmas Eve, but rely on netflix and Hulu for a holiday show so they get to open a game that we all play together Christmas Eve before bed. They are quite young so the games are quick, Hi Ho Cherrio, Candy Land and Don’t break the Ice are typical. Bedtime story is the Nativity story they like to sing so there is usually a few songs. Sometimes we do cookie or gingerbread house decorating earlier in the day.

My mom usually comes over for the early morning festivities. Christmas morning is Santas gift and their stockings. They play while we make a nice breakfast. After breakfast, dressing for the day then on to exchanging gifts with the family to and from parents and grandparents and children. More time to play until time to go to dinner at the inlaws (great grandparents) where they get one more gift from the greats.

Yeah, Christmas Adam is a new one on me too.

Christmas Adam comes first and leaves you unsatisfied, is what I heard. :wink:

This one is not unique at all, since I stole it off Facebook where it was pinched off Pinterest and who knows where else, but it worked so well this year, we all agreed it will be a tradition every year: Christmas Eve we all opened boxes with new pajamas, popcorn, hot chocolate (with baggies of real mini marshmallows), and candy. Inside the younger sprog’s box was also a DVD of Inside Out. The kids had seen it already, and liked it, my husband and I hadn’t, and it was wonderful. We got in our pj’s, popped some popcorn, and the entire family (son is 22, daughter is 10) watched a movie together. That NEVER happens anymore. I was so full of warm damn fuzzies. :smiley:

One gift at night. Always pajamas so the kids look nice for pictures. Get together at my parents house once all the kids open their gifts. Once there, we have monkey bread while we wait for the big meal to finish cooking up. One tradition I’m trying to start with my daughter is buying a special Christmas cake each year. Her dad’s Japanese and I heard that’s something they do. I dunno how true it is but it’s kinda fun.

We opened 1 present each at 6PM Christmas Eve. The rule was it couldn’t be the biggest.

Then we’d stay up until midnight and, as soon as it was technically Christmas, we’d open all the rest of the presents.

That was how my father’s family had always done Christmas so that was how we did Christmas (as my mother’s family didn’t do Christmas, so had no Christmas traditions).

Once I got past the toy stage, I was always given some books. So I would open a gift with a book at 6PM and would invariably have it read before midnight. It was better if I got a box set of books because that I couldn’t finish by midnight.