Charles and I lucked out when we got married because each of our family traditions seem to fit well together. It means a completely slammed two days, but we love it!
My family does most of our celebrating on Christmas Eve. Here’s our usual plans:
9:00 am: Charles and I have started a new tradition of grabbing breakfast at the local diner with a couple of friends. Inevitably, we run into my parents there. It’s a small town.
11:00 am: Time for the family to split up. A few of us will take gifts (usually something my mom has baked) to our family friends around town. The rest of us will stay put at the house to catch the other families that are undoubtedly doing the same thing!
3:00 pm: My family is always the last to ring the Salvation Army bell in front of the one nice grocery store each year. We love this tradition, especially because we always see everyone we know in just a couple hours! It always amazes me how many people end up at the grocery store on the afternoon of Christmas Eve!
5:30 pm: As long as I can remember, my family has always gone to the Christmas Eve service at our church. This is my most favorite service the whole year. We are southern Baptists, which means we like to have our communion passed out to us (ha!), but I love that we all get up and take communion from the preacher on Christmas Eve. It takes forever, but it’s always very special. At the end of the service, my dad usually grabs a guitar, and the congregation lights candles and heads outside to sing Silent Night. It’s always cold, but I love it!
8:00 pm: Until I was about 18, it was tradition for my family to have vegetable soup and grilled cheese after the service. Then a friend gave my parents gourmet steaks as a gift, so we tried that instead, and there’s been no turning back! I’d say it was a considerable step up…not to mention I hate vegetable soup, so it was always plain old grilled cheese for me.
9:30 pm: Time for presents! People are always shocked to hear that my brother and I always got to open all of our presents on Christmas Eve, but it always worked out great. We would open presents from the family on Christmas Eve, and then we could fully appreciate all that Santa brought on Christmas morning. Every year, my mom tries to convince us that we should wait until Christmas morning, and every year she loses. The “kids” (there’s 4 of us now, and I’m the youngest at 26) open all of our non-Santa (yes, we are still spoiled) presents at night, and my parents open the gifts from the kids. They save their presents to each other for the morning.
On Christmas Day, it’s the Gaylor’s turn!
11:00 am: Charles and I will head back to Goldsboro on Christmas morning in time to have brunch at his parents’ house.
1:oo pm: Now that we are completely full, we’ll open presents to keep from taking a nap! Where my family takes turns opening presents on Christmas Eve, it’s a free for all in the Gaylor house. I love that we get to have both!! It reminds me of growing up…my mom’s side always tore right in, and my dad’s side still takes turns (even though there’s 11 of us now).
6:oo pm: After a little afternoon snooze, it’s time for cocktails! Some great family friends come over, and we enjoy cocktails, a delicious roast that Charles’ dad makes every year, and some time around the old vintage jukebox.
9:00 pm: When dinner is over, we’ll all head into the den to watch a classic movie. For years, it was The Paper Chase, but last year we opted for Clue. Not everyone makes it through the movie though…there is usually a snoozer or two.
Christmas is my favorite time of year by far. My grandmother, Charlotte, always had a huge Christmas, and my family says that the “Charlotte in me” comes out this time of year.
What is your holiday tradition? What’s your favorite part about Christmas?