Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

12 Christmas Traditions from My Family to Yours

12 Christmas Traditions from My Family to Yours

12 Christmas Traditions from My Family to Yours

Christmas traditions. Where do they start? Think about the ones that have stuck in your family–would you classify them as intentional traditions or accidental traditions?

My family has some of each. Some have been handed down from my Lines in the Gravel family. (From the name of my first book, stories from my growing up years, that’s the family of my childhood.) Others have originated in my own Family of Five.

In no particular order (except for #1), here are 12 Christmas traditions from my family to yours. Use some if you want. Discard others as silly or irrelevant. The point of the post is to get you thinking about ways to make the Christmas season memorable for present and future generations.

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Christmas Tradition #12 (Family of Five)

Home Alone movies every year during Christmas break. Harry and Marv (the spittin’ image of major league outfielder Hunter Pence) take more punishment than most cartoon goofs, but they keep coming back for more. And so do we.

“Wow, what a hole!”

marv Hunter_Pence_on_May_20,_2015





Christmas Tradition #11 (Family of Five)

Mrs. Right places an assortment of candy canes on the tree the night before we do our Christmas as a family. Once we have opened our gifts to one another, they are fair game.

Christmas Tradition #10 (Lines in the Gravel Family)

This one is from my Lines in the Gravel family: Santa’s Book of Candy. Every year without fail. Three words: Butter rum. Yum.

Christmas Tradition #9 (Family of Five)

White sparkling grape juice and powdered doughnuts before opening presents in the morning. The powdered doughnuts are taking a year off this year. See #8.

Christmas Tradition #8 (Family of Five)

Flexible family Christmas. Every year, we ask the question, “When are we going to do our Christmas this year? We fit in a few hours for our family to “do” Christmas around other traditions. See #7.

Christmas Tradition #7 (Lines in the Gravel, Family of Five)

Christmas Day every year with my Lines in the Gravel family. The location has changed. The number of days that we get to stay has changed. But somehow the Ainsworth family Christmas has survived sisters living out of state, in-laws’ Christmas gatherings, and the general busyness of life. When our kids were young, we acknowledged that it might not always work out to keep this tradition going. But it has.

Christmas Tradition #6 (Lines in the Gravel)

Twenty-five red Christmas ribbons divided by four kids. You do the math. This one got its own chapter in the book and a blog post.

Christmas Tradition #5 (Family of Five)

We have the red Christmas ribbons now. To be honest with you (and why should I lie?), this tradition was more special as a kid.

Christmas Tradition #4 (Family of Five)

It’s a Wonderful Life. Okay, so it’s not really a Christmas movie, but it has an extended Christmas scene (kind of like Radio, which the Little Fella is watching as I write this post). It’s a Wonderful Life contains my favorite movie line ever in its context: “To my big brother, George, the richest man in town” (Harry Bailey). Gets me every time.

Christmas Tradition #3 (Family of Five)

Advent. I grew up celebrating Advent each week in the little country church in which I grew up. Last year, our family did an Advent study at home, and we have done a modified version this year. I like the focus on the Christmas story in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It helps keep the season in its proper perspective.

Christmas Tradition #2 (Lines in the Gravel, Family of Five)

Growing up, I remember protecting the nights on which the animated Christmas specials came on television. With video on demand today, that Christmas tradition has largely been lost on this generation. One exception remains: A Charlie Brown Christmas. If we catch it on particular night’s programming, ol’ Chuck takes priority because it contains a scene that Frosty and Rudolph can’t match. See #1.

Christmas Tradition #1

The Christmas story. Linus knew that the story of Jesus’ birth was the real meaning of Christmas, so much so that he dropped his trusted security blanket at the words “Fear not” while telling the story from Luke 2.

We tell the Christmas story in my family every year. If we keep every other tradition on the list and allow this one to go away, we’ve missed it.

What About You?

We have plenty of other Christmas traditions, but in keeping with the theme of twelves on the blog this month, I’ll stop there. However, I would be interested to know what traditions (however old) you try to keep in your family. Share your traditions in the comments below.

About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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