When considering what makes the holidays special, I think mostly about those which define Christmas for me and my family. Some have slowly fallen away, while others I am purposeful about keeping alive each year.

  1. Best Little Church Santa Ever

The faith of my family has always played a major role in how we celebrate. My parents would take my sister Kelly and me to the Christmas plays our old country church would put on.

Sometimes we were participants. A constant for those pageants, however, was the big guy himself. Here Comes Santa Claus would play as he walked down the aisle. He passed out brown paper goody bags to young and old alike.

The contents were no surprise: an apple or orange, nuts, and a candy bar. To this day, my mother gets melancholy when thinking about the end of that tradition. Reminiscent of the anticipated, simple but joyful gift of Jesus that first Christmas morning?

  1. {Holy} Ghost of Christmas Present

My parents have been attending our current church since I was in middle school. I’d call it a “new” tradition, but given that we have participated for over 2 decade I don’t think that’s an accurate description.

Christmas Eve every year, the church holds a candle-lit communion service. We go, sit in silence, and remember the sacrifice baby Jesus would grow up to make for us. I love this time to separate myself from the hectic spirit the month of December creates. Or rather I create in myself.


My most cherished Christmas Eve, however, came my first holiday away from home. Jay knew I would be downhearted missing out on this tradition with my family, and wanted to create the special moment for me the best he could.

We ended up at a small church in the middle of Nowhere, West Virginia, with his cousins and only a handful of other people. Their denomination does Christmas Eve a bit different, but I didn’t care. The effort and love my darling went through for me made it the nicest gift I received that year.

  1. Not Your Grandma’s Christmas Dinner

Church is typically held at 5, giving us the evening together just the 4 of us. Of course, the definition of “the four of us” has changed but the tradition remains. After the candle-lit service, Daddy, Mama, and I come home and get ready for dinner on China.

Over the years my sister has gotten married, had kids, and started traditions of her own. These days, Jay makes 4 as we are absorbing him into the family.


While my dad fires up the grill to get it ready, my mom cooks “Justus potatoes” and all the sides. I get out the china and set the table. I have no memory of my sister’s participation in this tradition, and I’m pretty sure Jay just hangs out with my dad.

In years past, my grandparents would come over for dessert and bring our presents. These days we’ve all aged-out of that tradition (they are too old to enjoy shopping and we’re not kids any more), but I still enjoy Christmas cookies, coffee, and listening to Mamaw reminisce about only ever getting fruit in her stocking each year.

  1. A Christmas to Remember

Every year, my mother played 2 holiday records the month of December – Alabama’s concisely titled Christmas and Once Upon a Christmas by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I’m now the owner of both of these albums on CD and insist on listening to them whilst putting up the tree.


  1. Holiday/Hazard Pay?

Speaking of decorating the tree, Poor Jay. He should qualify for triple overtime or some such given my volatility. Each year I’m all-but guaranteed to throw a temper tantrum, accidentally break something, and cry for an hour.

The tantrum is typically due to lights being out on the tree, not having enough decorations, or some variation on my perfectionist tendencies being projected onto a 9 foot artificial decoration.



Unfortunately the breakage is typically something antique, like my great grandmother’s glass ornaments. I don’t intentionally drop them, but grace isn’t my thing (outside of Jesus).

Each year I go through the grieving process when one shatters. I tell myself that even if I break one a year, I have 2 dozen years of remembering my Mamaw ahead of me.

What holiday traditions to you and yours keep?

I’m linking up with Kelly today for #FridayFive, let me know if you decide to join us with your own post.