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Christmas Traditions

I’ve seen a few blogs where the authors are outlining their Christmas traditions. I’ve also been asked by some readers what my Christmas includes. So I thought I’d let you in on the Challies family Christmas. The way Aileen and I celebrate Christmas is a bit of a blend of two family traditions.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up as part of a tradition that celebrated Christmas but did not generally emphasize it as a day to remember the birth of Jesus. It was not quite a secular holiday, but neither was it a sacred one. Aileen’s family was actually quite similar. So our Christmas traditions include little by the way of reading nativity stories (though we did that on occasion) or lighting candles. It’s also worth mentioning that our Christmas traditions are evolving as time goes on. Now that my family has moved to the U.S., we spend every second Christmas in the south. My parents and all of my siblings gather (from Toronto, New York City, Atlanta and Chattanooga) and we celebrate Christmas together. That means we have (at the moment) 18 people gathering together. The off years, where we celebrate at our own at home, is a lot quieter but maybe not quite so much fun.

On Christmas Eve we usually just enjoy appetizers and snacks and try to get the children to bed at a good hour. And we tend to turn in fairly early as well as we know the next day will begin early. We might watch a movie or play a game or just hang out. Just before bed we lay out the stockings and make sure the gifts are where they need to be. There’s no mention of Santa.

Christmas morning we begin with stockings for the children and then eat a breakfast of croissants and bacon and egg rings (which my mom makes). Those bacon and egg rings are made in muffin tins and are really quite delicious—much better than standard bacon and eggs. That’s a tradition that goes back as far as I can remember. After breakfast we get to work and begin opening gifts, moving from youngest to oldest and going round after round. After a few rounds order inevitably gets thrown the wind and we just open whatever is left. Then we begin to look towards the afternoon and begin work on a turkey dinner (which we try to convince my brother-in-law to make since he cooks up a mean turkey). We tend to spend the day fairly quietly, just enjoying family and lots of good food. There’s inevitably a game or two going on and some music playing. We eat together and then head our separate ways. This year we’re beginning what we hope will be a new tradition by heading out the day after Christmas for a family outing (which, this year, will probably take us to the Chattanooga aquarium).

And that’s about all. We try to keep Christmas fairly simple and low-key. It’s usually just about the best day of the year.