favorite christmas memories & traditions | christmastime is here {part two}

Hello and welcome to my Christmastime Is Here blog post series that centers around – you guessed it – my all-time favorite holiday ever, CHRISTMAS!!!  Over the next few weeks (every Friday until Christmas), I’ll be adding to this series, so stick around because it’s going to be awesome.  I’ve never really done a Christmas blog series, but because of all of the growing (and blogging) I’ve done this year, I think it’s in order.  Christmas is just something that is so special to me because it’s the time to celebrate God’s most precious gift to us – His son, Jesus.  So grab a mug of something (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels) and enjoy!

Today I’m going to be talking about my favorite Christmas memories and traditions.  I was going to have two different posts – one for the memories and one for the traditions – but then I decided that you guys don’t want to hear about the stuff I do that much, so it’s one post.  : )

I’ve had quite a few very eventful Christmases over the two decades I’ve been alive, and they’re all due to my nutty family.  On a normal Christmas morning, my family will open our stockings, have a quick breakfast, open presents, and then spend the rest of the day relaxing and spending time with each other.

However, sometimes things don’t really go as planned.  For instance, two years ago, my brother caught some kind of stomach bug/flu thing a few days before Christmas.  He slept through most of the festivities with our extended family, and then he decided to spread the Christmas cheer and share his sickness with all of us.  It ended up that we were all sick and mopey on Christmas morning, too tired to do much more than open presents and sleep all day.  It was pretty awful.  This was probably the worst Christmas I’ve ever experienced, but it was definitely memorable.  XD

One of my favorite Christmases is almost the exact opposite of that Christmas.  We were between houses – we’d just sold our previous house and were in the middle of building the next one – and we lived in a super-cramped apartment.  None of us were looking forward to spending Christmas in our teeny-tiny apartment, but we were going to stick it out anyway.  Then, a few weeks before Christmas, a friend told us that they were going to be out of town over Christmas for an entire week and said that we could live in their house!  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.  Honestly, it was one of the most magical Christmases ever.  I still don’t know how my parents got all of our presents there.  We enjoyed the bigger living space (and super-nice kitchen and huge backyard and cable TV) and it was such a blast.  Definitely one of my favorite Christmases ever.

As for traditions, my family has several.  We take them pretty seriously.  (There have been arguments between siblings about some of our traditions.)

One of my favorite traditions is reading the advent books by Arnold Ytreeide – Jotham’s JourneyTabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage.  (In writing this post a few weeks ago, I discovered that Mr. Ytreeide had written one more and I MUST HAVE IT.)  The stories hold many memories for me and my siblings – sitting around, reading the stories, lighting the candles… so many memories.  I shipped Jotham and Tabitha when I was ten years old – wayyyyy before I knew what shipping was.  Nathan will forever be one of my favorite literary characters ever, and my siblings and I still get a shiver up our spines whenever we hear the name Decca of Meggido.  *shivers*  (If you guys haven’t heard of these stories, look them up.  It’s a little late to read them now, but you can buy them as Christmas presents for your family and do it next year.)

Another one of my favorite traditions is our family get-together.  Most of my relatives are super close, and we all love to get together.

With my dad’s side, we have a huuuuuuuuuuuge gathering and eat delicious food (my grandma’s punch is my favorite), play the white elephant game (with amazing strategies that are perfected every year), and enjoy spending time with relatives that we rarely see.  We have late-night conversations with a certain aunt and uncle that I really look forward to.  (Last time I saw them, we stayed up ’til 3am.)  This year, my siblings are going to see The Force Awakens with my cousin – YAHOO.

On my mom’s side, we usually get together with her siblings and her mother, and some of our extended relatives on that side.  It’s always so much fun and the food is fantastic because my grandma on that side is a really good cook (and she always makes special gluten-free stuff for me).  That side is a little more laid-back, but I love both traditions equally.

The other day, my sister brought up another one of my family’s smaller traditions – signing our Christmas card.  Every year, my mom writes the Christmas letter, prints it out a million times, and we all sit down at the table to sign it, complete with drinks (at another table, of course) and Christmas music.  Then everybody gets a job as we stuff the envelopes with the letter and family picture, seal it, stamp it, and address it.  It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something we all look forward to.  Last year, we all signed our name once and Dad digitally put our signatures on the paper, but we all decided that that wasn’t as fun, so I think we’ll go back to the old way this year.  We’ll see.

Another favorite tradition of mine are the Christmas concerts I participate in.  Ever since we’ve lived in Georgia, my siblings and I have been in a local college orchestra, and we always play in their Christmas concerts.  (When this gets posted, I’ll be psyching myself up for the second one – WAHOO.)  We listen to the choir and the jazz ensemble in the wings or the balcony, then play a few songs with the orchestra, then listen to the winds play, then we do The PrayerSleigh Ride, and then do a Christmas medley as our huge finish with the choir.  Five concerts in one weekend is a little rough, but it’s so much fun that I can’t imagine stopping.  (I’d invite you all, but the concerts sell out so fast.)

Finally, my absolute favorite Christmas tradition, however, is what my family does on Christmas Eve.  A few days before Christmas, we buy and bake a ton of cookies and start making a list of families we’d like to bring the cookies to.  What we do varies every year (sometimes we’ll bake all of the cookies, sometimes we’ll buy all of them, and sometimes we’ll do some candy, too), but we always spend a few hours on Christmas Eve going around to different people’s houses.  It’s always fun to listen to music and talk in the car, but one of my favorite parts is popping in on people.  It’s interesting to see all of our friends’ Christmas Eve traditions.  For instance, we’ve interrupted someone’s family gathering three years in a row and they always invite us in.  Sometimes, people aren’t at home – which is fantastic because that means extra cookies for us!  When we get home (which, depending on when we start, can be anywhere between nine and eleven at night), we always change into our pjs and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  And I always cry.

Well, that was certainly longer than I thought it was going to be.  HA.  Hope you weren’t bored.  If you made it this far, congratulations!

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories and traditions?

11 thoughts on “favorite christmas memories & traditions | christmastime is here {part two}

  1. Pingback: elf & a christmas story | christmas movie marathon | inklings press

  2. I LOVE your tradition of taking Christmas goodies to friends on Christmas Eve! Wouldn’t work for us cuz our friends are so far-flung around here, and we have church on Christmas Eve, but I really wish we could make that work because it sounds so fantastic.

    • I do, too! It almost didn’t happen this year due to Reasons, but then it did, and I was so happy. We’ve never had a church that does Christmas Eve services (we’ve always been to smaller churches), so it always worked out. Maybe you could do it on Christmas Eve Eve?

  3. YAYY CHRISTMAS. Your family’s Christmas traditions sound like so much fun!!! And my mom just got that new Arnold Ytreeide book in the mail this afternoon. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT.

  4. I loved reading about your Christmas traditions! Traditions are so special — that feeling of having the same special things to look forward to every year — but the unexpected can also be fun too. (I LOVE the story about you spending Christmas in someone else’s house! That sounds so weird and so fun!) Christmas for my family is always different too — but we always manage to have fun. 🙂

    Oh, are you gluten free too?! *high-five* ;-P

    I’m really enjoying your Christmas posts, Ashley!

    • Thank you! That’s what I think, too. 🙂 (It WAS weird and fun!) That’s one of the more important things about Christmas – just to let things be fun. 🙂

      I am! I’m supposed to be dairy-free, too, but shhhh, we don’t talk about that. 😉

      Aww, thanks! That means a lot to me! 🙂

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