Christmas Traditions I Remember

As I head out to visit family this week for a celebration, I think about past Christmases we had together… when I was a little girl. I remember Christmas dinners at my grandmother’s house and my mother’s house. House full of people. Local family and family from out of town. One of my uncles would tease me and say, “Uh oh! Uh oh! Here comes trouble!” I would get so riled up at him! Another one of my uncles would ask me my where my red glaces (glasses in a silly way) were. My mom’s family has a slew of funny words and isms that crack me up.

I remember one Christmas at my grandmother’s house. I had to be 3 maybe. It was around the time the Oopsie Daisy doll came out. One of my cousins had one and I remember hearing it crawl around the kitchen and the chatter about the doll that ensued. I remember hearing a loud tumble down the basement stairs, exclamations, and commotion. One of my older cousins had fallen down the stairs. He landed safe and sound with a plate of cake unharmed. That story would be told for years. I remember my grandmother’s smile, her graceful voice… vaguely now :(. She would stare off and talk to herself at times. She was tired.

My grandmother passed away when I was 9 years old. I remember my mother getting a call from an uncle saying that she was unresponsive. We rushed to the hospital. Family gathered in the ER. Bawling, hugs, and tears. I remember looking up at my mother and saying something along the lines of, “Mommy, does this mean that the family won’t be happy anymore?” It seems like ever since that day, it’s been hard to get all of the family together in one spot. I understand we all grow older, take on more responsibilities, and wander our ways. It is what it is, but I miss having all of the family together for celebrations.

A little backstory, my grandmother and grandfather (he passed away before I was born) had ten children. Ten. Seven girls, three boys. Part of me wants to have a large family… me being the only child and all. I can’t even count the the amount of cousins that I have. There are so many of us, me being the youngest. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s me becoming more aware of my age or having a little family of my own. I worry about my aunts and uncles as they grow older because I don’t want to lose them. I fear that Jayden and our future children won’t get to know them. Two of my aunts and an uncle have passed away already and it kinda puts things into perspective.

So without thinking, I would say my favorite Christmas tradition would be putting up the tree and gazing at its clear and multi-colored lights. Feeling like a kid again and reliving my childhood through Jayden’s eyes. But after being reminded of my childhood and reflecting, I’d have to say my favorite Christmas tradition (that I miss) is just having bunches and bunches of family in one place… cracking up, playing video games (Sega and Nintendo at the time), watching movies, and stuffing our faces. As much of an introvert I am… I actually enjoy it.

So while I try to create new traditions for our little family, decorating early, baking, stuffing stockings, and picking up cool ornaments each year, it’s the large family gatherings I enjoy the most. Now if you excuse me, I have a plane to catch. And here’s to hoping that I don’t lose my tough shell and go all best cry ever (Google it) all over the place.

Tell me, what are some of your favorite Christmas traditions and memories?

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

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Sheena Tatum

Hey, I'm Sheena! I married my jr. high sweetheart and together, we raise three tiny humans in NW Indiana. I'm an introverted free-spirit and serial dreamer obsessed with all things tropical and carefree. I love inspiring others to live wholly and find beauty in the mundane. I don't always get it right, but I'll keep trying anyway. :) Email: [email protected]

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  • Yakini December 14, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    The bests Christmases are definitely the ones where we all get together as a family – meaning, my three sisters and my mom and grandmother. I have so many special memories of celebrating the holidays together in one place, growing up – it’s kind of sad now that we’re all “grown up” and so spread out, including on different coasts. I hope we can all get together like that again soon.

    Loved this post. I got choked up when you talked about the part about your grandmother. Aww! And love the last photo of your son in front of the tree. That is beautiful!

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  • Shanice December 14, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Being from North Carolina, I can definitely relate to the isms
    and funny words that your family has. Mine has a lot of them too!

    favorite, and somewhat traumatic, Christmas memory involves the
    legendary fall of our Christmas tree. I was 8 years old, and I wanted
    one of those Vtech kid laptops so badly! I knew my parents bought it for
    me that Christmas, and I even knew which present it was under our
    Christmas tree. I had been studying this box for weeks. I studied the
    box so much that I could see the Vtech logo on the box through the
    wrapping paper. But my mom, trying to keep my gifts a secret and a
    surprise, told me that I did not get a Vtech laptop for Christmas. She
    said she just used a Vtech box to put another one of my gifts in it. I
    was determined to prove to her (and myself) that I got that laptop for
    Christmas. So one day, I was trying to pull my Vtech laptop from under
    the Christmas tree, but unbeknownst to me it was stuck. Next thing I
    know, our 7 foot Christmas tree came tumbling down. I still thank God to
    this day that that tree did not fall on me! LOL

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  • The Suburbanista December 10, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    I used to the cut the hair off of barbies when I was younger so one year mcdonalds was giving out barbies during christmas. Still to this day mom pulls out what we now call Susan Powter barbie on a sleigh for the tree. She is bald with lots of random hair popping out of her head in the holes that used to hold all her hair. LOL

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  • tracey kenard December 6, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    My fave memory is of my parents going to get the tree; us decorating it; my mom filling huge bowls with fruit, nuts, & candy in each room (downstairs) and playing Christmas music on the ‘stereo.’ Then when all the Holiday cartoons started coming on, I was SO excited! I, too, have only 1 child & he’s a grown young man now, so I really miss the excitement of the ‘wait for Santa.” My family doesn’t all gather, either :-(. The only tradition I can say I stand by is always having a live tree.  By the way: I DIED @ “best cry ever” – hilarious. 🙂

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  • Melissa @ ConsumerQueen December 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Christmas is my favorite time of year. When I was little we would all go to grandmas house and open Christmas presents. Now that I am married and have Children of my own, part of me wants to have Christmas at our house to enjoy those special moments alone and part of me wants to continue the tradition we started a few years ago which was to spend the night and Daniels mom’s house and open presents in the morning. My kids getting older now and I know it’s only a matter of time when they will be gone.   I was so sad this year when my kids did not want to help decorate the tree 🙁

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  • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate December 5, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    There was a lot of conflict in our house growing up, but Christmas is one of the times when I remember some very special memories.  We lived far away from family, so Christmas was just us–but with 5 kids it was still chaos.  We used to tromp into the woods with my dad, hauling a sled behind us in the snow, and actually pick out and cut down a Christmas tree on our own property (we had 42 acres).  I can only imagine that we were more hindrance than help. . . but it is an event that I remember being good.  Another thing I remember fondly is a game we kids would play called “exact”.  In the days leading up to Christmas we would take turns telling EXACTLY what we were going to do on Christmas morning “Ok, so when I wake up I’ll go and wake Amanda up, then when mom and dad get up we’ll all rush down to the tree, I’m going to sit on the window seat and open my presents there. . . ” I’m sure we gave my mom many a giggle listening to us go on and on in nauseating detail!

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  • Sky December 5, 2011 at 5:53 AM

    Brand and I were pretty young when we had Johnny…but it was important to start our own family traditions.  So, every Christmas Eve I make cinnamon rolls {my great-grandma’s recipe} and bake them Christmas morning.  We always, always, always have homemade cinnamon rolls. 

    Hopefully, it’s something my kiddos will take with them when they are grown with families.

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  • Lori Falcon December 4, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    It’s sad really, but I don’t recall hardly any of our Christmases as a youngster.  I know that we didn’t have much until I was around 12 when my stepdad came into the picture.  I try very hard to make these now holidays, pretty special.  

    I only wish I had the memories you did….and with the very noticeable aging of my own parents and FIL, i truly want my boys to know them and remember every bit of memories possible before they are one day gone. 

    I love that second photo Sheena….I have never been able to take a good photo of the lights at night.

    And thanks for sharing…it just puts things in perspective and makes me realize what is important. 

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    • Sheena December 4, 2011 at 9:50 PM

      Lori, like your mom, my mom worked so hard to make sure that I had Christmas presents. There were plenty of Christmases where another family member would help in that area whether they bought some of them or my mom did favors (cooking, cleaning etc.). She would hustle. There were also times that I received gifts from community programs. My presents never measured up to those of my peers and that made me feel a little bad (hearing about and seeing all the new clothes everyone else got), but looking back I realize my mother did the best she could. 

      It’s just so important to instill compassion in our children because you just never know what people are going through. It’s ridiculous how rude children can be all over material things. Anywho… the true excitement was having family over especially when so many people could make it at once. I remember the times when I’d hear that family couldn’t make it and I’d be all like, “Aww man!” *pout* This week I saw little me in Jayden. His energy skyrocketed to 100 being around family and friends!Oh and I usually shoot low exposure, high ISO, open aperture to capture lights. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting <3

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  • Monica Brady December 4, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    Ok, so I don’t have huge Christmas memories.. My big holiday memories are NYE, since that’s my bday, and we always did something super special that day… BUT.. I do remember going to church and then everyone coming over for a HUGE breakfast and then opening presents. It seemed like forever before we could open presents, but to be honest… I miss it now. 

    As we make new memories with our own children, we do things a little differently. We stay home in the morning and let the girls wake us up… We love the smiles, and the excitement. I hope they remember the holidays and know that we try to make it super special for them every year. 

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  • Anonymous December 1, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Our families were a lot alike. 

    I would always gather with my Mom’s side each  year – who has two older sisters, as well as her parents, my cousins, etc. We’d take turns each Holiday, and alternate. Laughs were shared, we played games, had dinner, opened presents, etc. 

    It changed a few years back, when my Grandparents got sick, then passed away. My Aunt Deb (my Mom’s middle sister) is now sick as well, going through chemo a few days before Christmas for spine cancer – previously cancer in her esophagus since 2007. We’ve all gone our separate ways, and usually spend the Holidays at home with Mom and Dad. It’s important to cherish the times that we had, and not take it for granted. I truly miss these times as the Holidays roll around, I miss these times, and especially my grandparents. 

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