Thursday, December 2, 2010


I love traditions.  I love love love traditions.  I've been compiling a list of some of my favorites.  I'll be sending a Christmas gift, in a random drawing, to someone on December 8...all you have to do is share one of your favorite traditions -- holiday or otherwise.

My mother used to make Betty Crocker blueberry muffins.  Warm, with a dab of butter, they taste like my childhood. She also used to make caramel rolls on Saturday morning, and cool them on a flattened brown grocery bag.  We'd have them for breakfast on Saturday, and also on Sunday morning.  Oh, how I loved those caramel rolls.

My dad always brought my mom a poinsettia on Christmas and an lily on Easter.  It always made her cry.  I love that memory so much; I've been adding both plants to my holiday table.

My dad didn't like getting up early and rushing before church on Christmas morning.  So, while we went to my Grandma K.'s on Christmas Eve, Santa would come to our house.  My dad would take the "long way" home from town, and we'd be jumping out of our excited skin the whole way.  We'd walk in to loads of gifts Santa had left.  My dad would take his time starting a fire, and my mom would mix some punch (7-Up and green sherbet).  Then we'd do the whole hurrah that night.  In the night, so that we'd have something to wake up to, Santa would come back and fill up our stockings.  Ah, love.  That is a most cherished memory.

Now that I have kids of my own, we've been building our own. Because of shared custody of Cole, we've had to be creative.  We have him Christmas Eve, and Kelly has him Christmas Day.  So, the past couple years, we've had a wonderful family Christmas on December 23.  We go see a movie, have a special dinner (complete with eclairs) and Santa visits us that night, so that we have our own Christmas morning as a family.  I bake a strata and it's a delightful, wonderful holiday with tradition all our own.  We spend either Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Cory's or vice versa, depending on the year.  But, always, Christmas morning, we go to Christmas Mass with my inlaws.  The liturgy of a Catholic service fills my heart with the real reason we celebrate this holiday and I find, every year, I am so thankful for all of it.  The love, family, and tradition.  I hope my kids remember theirs as fondly as I remember all of mine.

Enjoy the season, my friends!


Mrs. Gorbe and Mrs. Chappa said...

Well, our most recent tradition involves the elf on the shelf. I love that "Frocky" comes back every year to keep a close eye on my kids!

We also wake the kids up to "see" Santa every year while he is putting their presents on the floor. I make sure to video it:)

elizabeth said...

We would have nisu or cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning with hot chocolate (hot cocoa packages found in our stockings). Except in the earlier years, when we'd get those mini boxes of sugar cereals in our stockings. (Which cracks me up because now I cannot imagine eating something like Lucky Charms - and back then it was a special treat. ;)

I like my Christmas now, but I do miss those cinnamon rolls. I've bought them a few times to have on Christmas morning but they never taste the same. One of the years I will learn to make them myself.

My New Year's Eve tradition for many years now is to watch The Triplets of Belleville while eating pumpkin raisin cookies and drinking hot chocolate. It started one year when I was living in California on a New Years' Eve where there was such a serious downpour that I was NOT leaving the house (the creek nearby flooded - I have photos of the flooding from the next day). The next year, it was almost as rainy so I did the same thing. I enjoyed it so much that it became my annual tradition.

MindiJo said...

My kids recently asked me if they were going to have all kinds of food that they can eat all evening long. Apparently my hors devours (sp?)on Christmas eve are a hit. I used to have pizza and then a good spread of appetizers (easier to spell) after, but I switched to a small pizza with a medley of options. It's free reign. We then read the Christmas story and open gifts from each other. And enjoy each other.

Christmas morning and stockings. What more can I say? The same traditions as when I was a kid. Tried and true. Why change something so magical and perfect? I LOVE traditions, also.

Anonymous said...

When my in-laws were alive and my son was little, we always had Christmas Eve at our house. They wanted me to make sloppy joes accompanied by chips and dip. Apparently they liked my sloppy joes and I dared not suggest anything else. They would inquire before Christmas if I could please make sloppy joes again. We would open gifts, grampa would go home, and the rest of us went for the candle light service.
Carol Cline
Darn tootin I'm signing my name in case you're baking my cookies this year :)

Tanya said...

I buy my kids a Christmas ornament for the tree each year. It is picked special for each of them, representing something that has been special to them in the past year. They open their ornament on Christmas, and I take a picture of them hanging it on the tree. Each year, as we bring out the Christmas decorations, they sit on the floor around the ottoman as I pull out the ornaments, one by one. As we do so, we talk about each ornament from years past and the memories that each one represents.

Leanne said...

okay, seriously? these comments have me positively weepy. there is so much beauty in tradition...thank you for sharing -- keep them coming!

Susan - I love the video. what a brilliant idea.

Lib - cereal! i love that when we were a kid, some of those things were 'special.' I hope my kids have memories like that.

Mindi - appetizers = Christmas Eve. Whether we're at my inlaws or my parents, that's always the Eve menu!

Carol - one thing i would love is a candle light service. thank you for sharing!

Tanya - your kids will have those forever and always remember them. i keep each kids' ornaments in a separate bag and they get to put their own on a tree too. i vow to save every one of them.

Laura Jean said...

Of course I share many of the same memories. I'll add the part about Grandma K's. All the food! Singing Christmas songs with our eyes glued on the the back door, waiting for Santa to knock. It was always so crowded, but so HAPPY.

Thanks for sharing our family traditions- it makes me warm and fuzzy inside. :) And the blueberry muffins- Mom used to make a few blueberry-less ones for Dan and I. :D

Anonymous said...

I have to chime in- Since we lived in Michigan and had no relatives we had our own family Christmas. We would watch old home movies of past Christmas present opening. (And laugh at my dad- if you know my dad you would understand- he is an extremely funny person) Then we would have shrimp dinner. Fried everything. Then we opened presents between the siblings and parents. We read the Bible and would sing a song or two. Then Christmas morning we would wake at 7am to Santa presents and stockings. We were not allowed to wake mom and dad before 7am. It was very stressful sleeping all night.
Now that I live in Minnesota by all of my family and all of my inlaw family- it is just as fun and full of tradition. We alternate the holidays between the Manninens and Niemelas. Our newest tradition is going to the late night church in Kingston- candlelight service. It is so fun to go, celebrate Jesus' birth, and see all of our family on both sides. I could write a book but I am going to stop at this.
Merry Christmas Leanne-

Anonymous said...

We, too, are trying to save all the kids' ornaments and letting them hang them on the tree each year. I love to tell the stories behind them, and the kids love to listen! (Like the pink ceramic baby shoes are from G&G Enerson; Raesa was the first grandchild and her first Christmas was spent with the in-laws. My MIL has a knack for picking the perfect ornaments!)
My favorite tradition from our childhood was opening stockings only before church on Christmas morning. We set off for church *eyeing* all the presents under the tree!! It was a BIG hoopla to come home from church, change into 'play' clothes, and start opening gifts. Our rule was as soon as the 'present hander-outer' gave you a present, you could open it, so we often missed seeing what the others got. Once we were finished 'ooo'ing and ahhing' our own gifts, we would go see the gifts that the others had received. Muccada (sp?!) and cheese on crackers was the standard 'Christmas Day' fare @ the Anderson's.
And, inevitably, a stray Koivisto or Anderson boy would either appear or disappear to go see what his buddy across the field had gotten. ;)

Anonymous said...

One of my fav memory as a kid after many times waking up my mom and dad to ask if we could open our presents we would FINALLY get the ok but we would have to sit on the stairs and wait for my dad's coffee to finish brewing. It always felt like hours for that coffee to get done. Then we would all make a mad dash for the tree to sort out the gifts. That feeling of aniciapation is like no other and nothing can come close.

Liz D

Megan Lorraine said...

Every year we used to go to Grandma T's(your gma T too:)) on Christmas Eve and we would eat potato sausage, green bean casserole, fruit salad, gpa's flat bread and for dessert we always have choc covered cherry cookies and peanut brittle and punch. Then when we are playing games with whatever cousins were here from out of town, Santa would come and leave a bag of gifts for everyone in the porch. :) Thnn we'd take turns opening. After all the hubub, we would put the van warming and go back home all the way watching for Santa. When we got home, we would rush to bed. Always, I would wake up in the middle of the night, and sneak downstairs to peek at the pile that Santa left. It was always SO magical to me to see the tree lit upb with a smorgasbord of gifts under the tree. I would always check my stocking, then put it all back, and then go back to bed until morning with a big smile on my face. I LOVE Christmas. :)

Leanne said...

Lorz: i know, warm and fuzzy. i'm excited for you to be able to start some special traditions with dom.

laura: i understand re: the service. christmas mass is my favorite part. plus fried shrimp dinner. i love unique traditions. one year, for some reason, we didn't go from Mtka to Cokato on christmas eve. so my mom let us each choose one thing for our smorgasbord. i chose onion rings, shari chose shrimp. that's all i remember. :)

Lexie - yes, a stray neighbor. i remember whispering in church among my girlfriends what our loot was. thank you for sharing yours.

liz - that was so mean (and totally cool) of your dad. anticipation is such a huge part of it!!

Megan - sounds amazing. i bet your time alone in the middle of the night was *magical.*

ethiopifinn said...

Our tree tradition: Saturday after Thanksgiving, Habtamu pulls the tree up from the basement and decorates it with the 8 ornaments he can find, all while I'm at work. It is so fun to come home and have the twinkling lights waiting for me, and the kids yelling, "surprise!"

when I was a child we spent Christmas Eve with all my Mom's sibs and their families and our Grandma. We had a huge spread of food, and Santa would come and pass out presents. For many years we exchanged name gifts, too. Now, we spend Christmas Eve with our little family at home. I make a meal, and I keep asking my hubby if we should just give them their presents, or if I have to wait til the morning.
Christmas Day we head out to Dassel to eat and gab with my Mom and sisters' families.

Krista said...

Christmas Eve has always been spent (until this year) with my parents. We go to church, eat prime rib and cheesecake, and then open presents. Christmas morning, we open "Santa" presents and eat a french toast and then would head to my grandparents for more food, presents, music (we all play an instrument and play Christmas music together - it's always slightly out of tune and chaotic, but really fun)!

Now that we will be alone for Christmas, we'll follow most of these traditions - especially the Christmas Eve part! That is my favorite, favorite day of the year. I just love Christmas Eve. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow--so fun to read everyone traditions! Mine when growing up was every other year we'd be w/ my Dad's family on eve and my mom's side on "day" but then next year it switched and it still is to this day. And now the Nyman side has taken it to the next level that always on "Day" we always have h'orderve food instead of a big spread since we probably just had that. As a kid and now even I always wanted to open our presents from my parents and to myself on "day" night--so as to save it and something more to look forward to instead of right away :)

Singing Silent Night at the 11pm service at church w/ the lights out and each person holding a lit candle--my favorite!

Having an advent calendar w/ the kids and I SO want to get Elf on a Shelf! What a fun idea!

Anonymous said...

One of our favorite traditions around Christmas time is The Cookie Bake! We all, I mean ALL of us get together a bake a TON of cookies! There are at least 10 of my siblings+in-laws and at least 35-40 kids. We each pick one kind of cookie to make and then swap them. So by the time we are done, we have made over 1200 cookies! Whoa, what fun! We arrive early with our dough premade, lately it has been at a church, and start rolling, cutting, shaping, dipping, spreading, frosting, and EATING cookies! Take a pizza break for lunch, take a break to make a small craft,and then back at it, pretty apron on and huivi (scarf on your head). All day, until we have cookies coming out of our ears! Then each family goes home with 1 dozen of every different kind. First it started out at my mom's with only girls, but since it has moved to a larger kitchen and we included the boys! The kids look forward to this all year!
Barb(Kumpula) Wikman

Andy said... of my favorites is from when we were nearing the end of high school and my grandpa started wrapping white elephant gifts in wacky paper and twine. Whenever we saw one of those with our names scrawled on them in black marker, we knew that Santa had already visited. And Santa had a tendency to be bawdy or inappropriate in his gift giving. It only lasted a few years before he died, but we were old enough to share some good old fun with our grandpa at Christmastime.

emily said...

Thanks for all the traditions! How fun to read them all. I love Christmastime :)

From favorite tradition as a child was getting up early on Christmas morning and only getting our stockings once we were ready to go and in the car. We got to spend the 6 hour trip to Omaha, Nebraska opening them and enjoying our new goodies. That day was (and is) always filled with joy seeing family that we only get to see a few times a year and going to church to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I remember one Christmas in particular where all of the female cousins (6 in all, at that point) got yellow Beauty and the Beast nightgowns. We wore them for the next week!

Recently I've been lucky enough to marry into a family full of Christmas traditions. We go to church together Christmas Eve evening and go home to eat prime rib and cheesecake. They expanding their taste buds for me a little because prime rib is just not my favorite :) We get to open gifts after supper and then just get to be together. Christmas morning we get stockings and go onto Great Grandma and Grandpa's house for more family and food.

My immediate family seems to change it's style yearly, but for a very important reason. The most important in my opinion. The day we celebrate seems to change from year to year because we do our best to include everyone. So I consider our tradition our family, which is the most important thing to me. We also always read the Christmas story from the Bible. We take turns and it's beautiful to all be together and listen to it.

Julie said...

I've been under-the-weather but thinking that I have to get back on the computer and comment on this post. It was fun to read about your holiday traditions and then all of the comments. Traditions are what make the holidays so special!

When Christmas time rolls around, we spend Christmas Eve afternoon and evening with Andrew's family. For supper, we have a big potluck and the "dice game gift opening" with a lot of his extended family in Kingston (the town where his mom grew up). The funnier some gifts, the better. They also set up other funny games that the grown-ups play in teams.

Depending on how the boys are doing (we haven't done it so much with Gregory), we change them into a new pair of jammies after and head to the little old church in town for a small, community candle-lit Christmas Eve program. We all sing Christmas carols there and they usually have locals act out part of the Christmas story, sometimes even wearing animal costumes, much to the kids' delight. There's something so magical about the whole thing, it being late, quiet and Christmas Eve and all. Special and humbling. I cry every year. :)

In the morning, we sing happy birthday to Jesus, open gifts (too) early and head over to my parents for a waffle breakfast. We exchange gifts there as well and if we're not running behind, we head to a Christmas morning church service. We then celebrate Christmas Day with some of my extended family- a big ham dinner, followed by singing more Christmas songs and playing games. The kids and hockey fanatics bring their skates for some late-afternoon skating. Before supper, we head back home for some quiet family time to end the beautiful day. It's pretty much the same, every single year. And I love it. :)

Krizzie said...

AH, last minute but better late than never ;) We always have done the appetizers for Christmas Eve although my brother's family up here in da' UP do not appreciate olives or mushroom anything. We have always opened everything from Santa first on Christmas morning and then all the presents but taking turns so we wouldn't miss what anyone received; organized chaos :) Mum has always had a ham dinner and another main dish for those of us with either allergies or finickiness.

One funny memory is my Uncle Bob sleeping on our couch in White Pine in a red sleeping bag. I woke up early and was scared that Santa had fallen asleep on OUR couch! Yikes!

aascifres said...

Our tradition........Christmas eve......New PJs (cuz you gotta look smashing in the christams morning pics), and new christmas ornament , and a new christmas book that daddy reads to them while momma finishes up the last little christmas details! I {heart} CHRISTmas so much!
(( i happened by here via MindiJo's blog! I {heart} that girl alot too!!! ))

Anonymous said...

Ok. . .so I'm going to jump in on this post too. Leanne, I love your blog and the warmth you bring through it.

To respond to your post. I love tradition too. I have the same advent calendar my mom made for me as a child and the boys put up an ornament a day to count down for Christmas. I love their anticipation. I also wrap our Christmas books so that the boys can unwrap one each night up until Christmas. This year I'm making a new tradition that I hope they will enjoy. I'm making a nativity set and giving them a piece each night. On Christmas morning they will open their Baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas


Cory said...

I remember going to midnight mass at St Joe's on chirstmas eve and having my mom make me kick my dad everytime he'd start storing during mass. I could barley stay awake myself... Sometimes I would forget and you would catch a huge store, gasp and groan come out of him.