No matter what holiday you celebrate, it’s usually about two things—religion and family.
I won’t go into the religious part of the holidays, but Christmas has always been a big holiday for my family. Now that we have my granddaughters, the twincesses, we know that these traditions will be carried on.
Here are some of my family traditions:
1. Get-togethers—On Christmas Eve, we always had huge family gatherings when I was a child. I love seeing my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and looking out the window hoping for falling snow in Western New York.
2. Food—Isn’t this everyone’s favorite part? It used to be roast beef (on weck, sometimes) for Christmas Eve and turkey for Christmas Day (my son’s fave), though we have tried ham a few times. The rest of our feast usually includes potatoes, rolls, corn soufflé, various sweet potato dishes, butternut squash (my fave), stuffing with the turkey (another fave), and too many other great foods. Green dishes are popular, too—broccoli, brussel sprouts, that whipped cream with pistachio pudding that everyone loves. And the red? Strawberry Jello with strawberries…yum! My son used to eat huge plates of turkey and mashed potatoes…still does.
3. Cookies—my favorite!!! I’ve tried too many different recipes—cut-outs, seven-layer bars (magic cookie bars, anyone?), peanut butter fudge, cocoa fudge, meltaways, thumbprints with jelly in the middle, and chocolate mint bars. My favorite? Frosted cut-outs. And my daughter still loves sprinkles. The twincesses will have sprinkles on everything this Christmas.
4. Gifts—This has been an ever-changing thing. Shopping for kids is the best. I remember when I was young and we had our big family gathering with all the cousins at our house (I was one of six kids) on Christmas Eve. We crept up the stairs while the adults were drinking their coffee and decided to peek at our gifts. We opened them all and re-wrapped them. Worst Christmas ever! I had no surprises the next morning.
5. The Christmas tree—We always had a fresh tree until we moved to Florida, then we bought an artificial one. I loved the smell of the pine whenever we ran downstairs. We had some interesting trips selecting our tree, including cutting down our own a few times.
6. Chocolate milk for Christmas, accompanied by a big breakfast. Always.

No matter what your financial situation, you can still have wonderful holidays. As one of six kids, I remember being so excited about Christmas that I thought I’d explode. Yet every year we each received the same gifts: one puzzle, one paper doll set (for the girls), one outfit for our Barbie dolls (also for the girls). Some years we would have an extra gift as a surprise. Oh, and we always got a pair of new pajamas from my aunt and uncle. I think back on how much I looked forward to it every year and the thing that stands out to me is this: how much did a puzzle, a paper doll set, and one outfit cost? Not much, yet I was still thrilled.
Every year. It’s all about family.
What are your favorite traditions?