This year, our holiday memories center around favorite holiday traditions: A fresh-cut tree smelling of the pine forest, warm cookies scenting the house with vanilla, doubling up on family celebrations, and so many more…
We hope our friends and neighbors have cherished family traditions for the holidays, too, whether it’s lasagna, an ornament that brings back years of happy memories, or a simple shoelace reminder that all we really need are those beloved faces bright with happiness to share in the moment.
Whatever holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year, we hope it’s filled with love, laughter, good food, and family.
When Johnny was 3, I was a single Mom with not a lot of discretionary money for things like Christmas tree decorations. So, that year Johnny and I began the tradition of making tree ornaments out of construction paper, scrap pieces of wood, or anything handy laying around the house that could possibly be hung on a Christmas tree.
That first year we were by ourselves, one of the items we added to our tree was a white shoelace, that we tied around a branch. For the past 45 years, that same shoelace gets tied on our tree every year as a reminder to stay humble and grateful for how far we have come and for what we have.
On Christmas Eve, since my children starting having children, we gather for an early evening Mass. My kids and their kids then go back to my house for the traditional lasagna dinner. It wouldn’t be Christmas without lasagna!
Then comes the exciting part for the children! Presents!!! Kids do a hot potato game to see who goes first and then so on. They open one at a time and move to the next one and so on until all gifts are unwrapped. Lovely sight!!!!
My birthday is Christmas Eve and my son’s birthday is Christmas Day.
We have a family tradition of celebrating Christmas morning in a very traditional way around the tree with gifts and holiday cheer for the entire family. At noon, Christmas is over and the birthday celebrations begin. Just like when I was a boy, Connor gets to pick the family meal and the day becomes a birthday celebration in his honor. So far, every year he has picked pizza! He’s a teenager now.
Christmas Eve night was an event in my family. We always went to church, had dinner at a family friend’s house then went home to put out milk and cookies for Santa.
My dad would read ‘Twas the night before Christmas before bedtime. Now, we have the same traditions with my own kids. It is so magical!!
Dad always made peanut brittle for Christmas. It was always a big production in early December & we eagerly waited for a crunchy taste of this coveted candy confection. He embraced this tradition from a recipe from his parent’s restaurant in Downtown Columbus called Forester’s, located at 201 S. High St. While I watched him make the candy for decades, he and I had a purposeful training session in the kitchen about a decade ago. He wanted to make sure I could uphold the peanut brittle tradition and I’ve always loved working in the kitchen, perfecting recipes, and exploring new cuisines. The tradition of sharing the peanut brittle with coveted friends and family is something I now embrace. I’ll be making the brittle soon in preparation for the holiday season and look forward to handing out my bags of brittle to our dear friends, in honor of my Dad.
My favorite part of Christmas is attending Christmas Eve service with our family. The church is beautifully decorated and we sing all the traditional Christmas carols. There is so much joy and excitement in the air!
Our extended family tradition is a special visit from “Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus during our gathering! They spend time with us playing games, making us laugh, dancing and passing out small presents to all young and old!
As a child, I remember my mom making beautiful peppermint candy cane cookies. I knew I loved eating them…but I had no idea how hard it was to create these lovely little treats until I was on my own and tried my hand at making them. I’m not a baker at heart, and yet I treasure the tradition of baking them. Despite the fact that year after year mine turn out misshapen and inevitably break, they are my go-to baking project for the holidays. And now my oldest son has taken up the challenge. He joins me in the kitchen, and this mama thinks his cookies turn out absolutely beautifully!
What are the holiday traditions in your family? We’d love to know!
Happy Holidays and a Happy, Healthy New Year to all of you!