CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR TRADITIONS FROM THE BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTY HOSTESSES
I thought it would be fun and interesting to get together with the grandmothers who help me host the Blogging Grandmothers Link Party and learn about how they celebrate Christmas and the new year. Thank you ladies! I enjoyed reading all of them. Here are their traditions and mine too.
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond in Australia.
As a blended family Christmas can become very hectic for everyone. A few years ago I decided that it was time to make a few changes and incorporate our own traditions.
Our blended family celebrations – Instead of having everyone visit on Christmas night, after visiting the other side of their families, they would arrive tired and not in the mood for eating. I decided when the grandchildren arrived that we need to change. We now have our Christmas get together one week before Christmas. Everyone brings a plate and my husband and I put together Santa Sacks for all the grandchildren filled with little bits and pieces. They receive so many gifts that we actually don’t spend a lot of money but rather deposit money into an account for their future. It is wonderful to see their faces when they open their sacks. My husband usually wraps every little thing individually so they are pretty excited to see so many gifts!
Christmas Eve – This is our time. My husband and I make a special dinner and enjoy an evening for two celebrating Christmas. We enjoy a glass of champagne and open our gifts with Christmas music playing. This is our special celebration.
Christmas Day – Over the last few years, we have taken my MIL and we spend the day with my daughter, her husband and my darling grandson. My son-in-law’s parents, sister and niece come along, as well as my son and his partner and even my ex-husband and his wife. It is a full on family affair with lots of food and laughter.
New Year’s Eve – For the last 25 years my husband and I have spent NYE alone at the Coast. We make a seafood platter, open a bottle of champagne and toast in the New Year, just the two of us. These days we see the ‘kiddies’ fireworks at 9 pm rather than waiting until midnight. We reflect on our year and talk about what we want for the next year.
Lori from Love My Big Happy Family in Utah.
Our Christmas celebration begins on the Monday before Thanksgiving when our family goes to the city park to watch them turn on the Christmas Lights!
Sometime during the following week we have a tree decorating party where my daughters and grandchildren come over and put up my Christmas tree.
I hang sixteen Christmas stockings on my bannister for all of my children and grandchildren. There is a stocking that features Santa, mine has Mrs. Claus, my children and their spouses have elves on their stockings and the grandchildren have reindeer.
Throughout the season, each week we have a family activity where we bake cookies, decorate gingerbread houses, go to a program, visit lights or nativity displays, etc.
Christmas Eve – We gather together with my three older sisters and their families – around sixty people. We have turkey, cheese potatoes, and raspberry jello salad and cookies and candies. Gifts are exchanged (I give each of my sisters a big plate of divinity candy) and we enjoy the company of our loved ones.
Christmas Day – All four of my grown children bring their families to my home at the same time and we unwrap gifts and take photos with the grandkids!
New Year’s Eve – We gather together with my sisters and their families. We have all kinds of finger foods – shrimp boiled in beer, cheese and cracker plates, stuffed mushrooms, chips and dips, a chocolate fountain and more. We laugh and visit and enjoy one another’s company. Just before midnight we pour champagne and sparkling cider and pass out noise makers. Then we watch “the ball drop” on TV, shout “Happy New Year” and tell one another “cheers!”
Clearissa from Clearissa Coward’s Command Center in North Carolina.
My family had several Christmas traditions when I was growing up but the one that touches my heart the most and reminds me how generous and unselfish my parents were is the tradition of bringing one of my cousins into our home every year to celebrate Christmas with me as a child.
Let me give you a little background. You see, I was and am an only child and my father had a sister who had six children and was divorced. She was a struggling single mother and aside from buying each of the children a Christmas present every year, my folks would also bring one of the children home with us just as soon as school was out for the holiday.
I think my folks killed two birds with one stone in a way. Their kindness ensured I would have another child to wake up with on Christmas morning and since my folks would provide Santa’s gifts for the cousin that spent the holiday with us, they also made sure my cousin experienced a great Christmas as well.
As an adult, I realize that my folks did not make that much money. My father was in the military and my mother worked in manufacturing, but they were more than willing to share what we had with my dad’s sister and her six children. My aunt and the other five children were always invited over for my mother’s famous Christmas dinner as well. It was always a beautiful day and our house would be filled with children, laughter, and love.
I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did, and this memory still warms my heart. My father, his sister, and two of my cousins have passed, and my mother is frail and much older, but when I look into her eyes, I still remember the selfless woman that lives there and all the good she has done over the course of her life. And the unselfishness of my parents has taught me the joy of giving and the true reason for the Christmas season.
Christie from So What? Now What? in Utah.
I love holiday traditions maybe a little too much. There was a time when I struggled to accept that as the family grows and changes, traditions must change too. I’ve come to terms with that now and appreciate even more the traditions that have survived the births, deaths, marriages, divorces, changing work schedules, and moves of the past five decades.
Hand-made advent calendar – When I was young, my mother made a felt advent calendar with 24 pockets counting down the days until Christmas. On the left side was a Christmas tree and on the right, a manger. In each of the pockets was either a decoration for the tree or a felt character for the nativity scene. My siblings and I would take turns opening a pocket first thing each morning and pinning an item on the calendar. The coveted baby Jesus was always in the #1 pocket to be opened on Christmas Eve. When the children were all grown, my mother (knowing my love for tradition) passed the calendar on to me, and I used it with my two children until they reached adulthood, when I passed it on to my tradition-loving daughter. The calendar is ragged and worn now, but continues to be put into service every December.
Christmas cookies – When my daughters were young, we started the tradition of baking and decorating Christmas cookies the Sunday before Christmas Eve. We made four different types (gingerbread, thumbprints, peanut butter blossoms, and peppermint sugar cookies), and it was an all-day affair. Now, I make cookies with the grandchildren, and we’ve scaled it back to a half-day event, making two types (thumbprints and peanut butter blossoms). The group has grown to where we have too many cooks for the kitchen, so we split into two teams. While one group is baking, the other plays games or plans “shows” for Grandma and Grandpa to watch. Half way through, the teams switch places. The cookies we don’t eat on the spot are served to guests on Christmas Day.
Christmas Eve celebration – Christmas Eve is perhaps the most important evening of the year for my family. My siblings and I, along with our spouses, our children, and now our grandchildren all meet at my mother’s house for dinner. Years ago, when my mother was younger and we were a smaller group, mom would cook. Now she orders pizza, and the rest of us bring side dishes, drinks, and dessert. After dinner, we exchange gifts (which were determined by a name draw). Next, the children all gather around, while Grandma (my mom) reads a Christmas story. Following the story, those who have a talent to share take turns doing so. We have been treated to singing, dancing, violin and flute solos, and original storytelling. We’ve long ago outgrown my mother’s condo, but she insists on holding the party there anyway, and we just squeeze in a little tighter with each new addition. It’s noisy and chaotic and wonderful!
Christmas Day open house – On Christmas morning, our children and grandchildren come to our home to open gifts, and then my husband and I host an open house for extended friends and family. The menu never varies. The guests have come to expect our traditional fare: shrimp, sandwiches, chips and dip, crackers and cheese, and cookies—lots of cookies! Because people come at their convenience and stay as long or as short as they like, the visits are intimate and relaxed, with a different mix of guests at any given time. It also means that Larry and I never have to leave the house, and we still get to see lots of loved ones. Later in the evening, after the last guest has left, we clean up together and talk about how much fun we had and how blessed we are to be surrounded by so much love.
Me, Grammy Dee from Grammy’s Grid in Alabama.
I have such fond memories of Christmas as a child. My family, along with my aunts, uncles, and cousins would all meet at the home of my grandparents on Christmas Eve. We’d enjoy a wonderful meal prepared by my grandmother who was an excellent cook. Afterwards we’d all gather around the Christmas tree to exchange gifts. It was such a wonderful time, I don’t think I will ever forget it!
Now that my husband and I are grandparents ourselves, here’s how we celebrate.
Christmas Eve – Our adult children and our grandbabies come to our house. We feast on deep fried turkey, baked ham, roasted duck, turkey giblets with gravy, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, potato salad, green bean casserole, fresh collard greens, candied yams, cranberries, and yeast rolls. Desserts and snack always include fruit salad, banana pudding, pies, cakes, candies, cookies, and cheese ball with wheat crackers. Afterwards, we gather around the tree just as I did as a child and we open our gifts. We always take lots of pictures and videos. That evening we all load up and go looking at Christmas lights. I love seeing how people decorate the outside of their houses.
Christmas Day – When we wake up we always find what Santa left under the tree for the grandbabies. We continue with the picture taking and videos. We’ll all enjoy a big breakfast. Later on we’ll enjoy the leftovers we had the day before. The day is spent just being together, talking, laughing, playing games, and eating more leftovers!
New Year’s Eve – My husband is in charge of entertaining the grandbabies with fireworks as soon as it gets dark outside. At nearly 11 pm (our time in Alabama), we turn on the TV and wait for the Times Square ball to drop at midnight in New York City. We’ve done this for years and the grandbabies always look forward to it!
How do you celebrate? Are any of your traditions like ours?