How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

No time for opening paragraph nonsense! We are in the busiest time of the year! Presents! Family! Ham! Dealing with the annoying vegetarian family member who won’t eat the ham! It is madness! I asked the staff to calm down for a second and explain how they used to and currently celebrate the Christmas season.

 

Mike Pyatt

Growing up, Christmas used to be so wonderful for me. I was out of school for two weeks, and I used to get presents (I still remember getting the Super Nintendo Killer Instinct Bundle). It was just an awesome experience. I won’t deny that as I have gotten older, the Christmas season doesn’t hit me like it used to, and honestly, it hasn’t hit me too much this year (I’m going to blame it on taking these final exams).
That being said, the one tradition I love about Christmas is spending time with my family. That’s the one constant thing that has made me happy during Christmas. It’s very nice watching people open gifts, enjoying the yearly NBA basketball game (My team, the Washington Wizards, is playing in the noon game this year!), all while enjoying our newest tradition, Christmas Brunch, and goofing around with my family.
When I was younger, going over my aunt’s house on Christmas night with my cousins created some of the best memories. Even now, I still like to go stay with my sister and chill with my nephews and little brother. Christmas has always been important for me as far as family time goes.
Though this year it might take a while for me to get warmed up for the season, I know once December 25th comes around, it won’t be the presents or that make the day. No, it will be spending time with my family that will make Christmas feel like Christmas again.

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Shawn Bain

Celebrating Christmas has begun to morph a little bit for me. With having my children within the past three years, we are beginning to solidify our own traditions, both by incorporating my wife’s and my family’s traditions as well as creating our own. We are in an exciting time in my family’s lives as we are beginning to form what we do during this season.
In the past, my wife and I would stay the night at my parent’s house one year and her’s the next on Christmas Eve. We would wake up to open our presents, check our stockings with our families, and spend the afternoon at the other family’s house. Carving out time for board games has always been a must on Christmas day, as well as catching up and eating a fantastic dinner. The remainder of the day would be a combination of chatting, playing games, and picking through leftover goodies and snacks.
Our traditions leading up to Christmas have usually included a visit to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri to see the lights and ride the roller coasters after dark. They are literally breath-taking in the cold! We would go to my grandparents’ houses to play games, visit, and drink my grandma’s amazing wassail. Our cousins would usually join my sisters and I in holiday mischief, and we would often times get into some holiday trouble. Driving around to look at the lights was a yearly-must as well.
Now my wife and I have tried to incorporate some of those traditions into what we do with our kids. We still plan to go to Silver Dollar City, and we have seen the lights once this year and we went to a parade as well. We have added Elf on the Shelf (whom my 3-year-old son named Neil for some odd reason) to that growing list of things to do every year.
The excitement my kids display every morning when they look for what our mischievous elf had gotten into and where he landed when he got back from visiting Santa the night before is a magical experience for us all. It is also getting harder and harder each year to hold off starting to listen to Christmas music and put up decorations until after Thanksgiving. Three weeks just isn’t enough for all of the Christmas stuff we want to do!
On Christmas day, we plan to wake up and open presents at our house before making our rounds with the grandparents. We still plan to play games, open presents, and visit, but this year I think we are going to make more of an effort to point out the central thing we are celebrating on that day: the birth of the Savior of the world. We’ll have a family prayer time and possibly read a devotional.
Christmas is certainly my favorite time of year, and with any good fortune, it will hopefully be my children’s too. I wish you and your families all a merry Christmas! May your time with your loved ones be a blessing to you all!

 

Steve Schoen

In my family, we had few traditions growing up, but the ones we had I still keep close to my heart. First comes the tree. More specifically, I refer to the first ornament that goes on the tree, which is a dove representing peace and love. It was considered sacrosanct to put it on the tree before any other ornament (lights don’t count). The other major tradition from my childhood is the opening of brand new pajamas and ornaments on Christmas Eve. This has happened every year of my life growing up, and has continued into adulthood.
Since becoming involved with my wife, the routine has shifted a bit. We get ourselves a live tree from the same tree farm every year, which we cut down ourselves. Additionally, because of various family get-togethers and scheduling issues, Christmas with the wife occurs as follows: We open our gifts to one another on the 23rd. On Christmas Eve, we open pajamas and ornaments at my mother’s house as normal. Then, we leave my mother’s house and open gifts at my father’s, taking place anytime between 9:00 PM and midnight.
After that, it’s home for sleep, and then up with the sun to drive back to my mother’s house to have Christmas morning there. When we’ve finished at my mother’s house, it’s home to have Christmas dinner with my wife’s family. Finally, on the 26th, we open gifts between my wife’s family over at my in-laws’ house.
That’s right, there are four days of gift-giving in my household. It has become a tradition, which I have named, “Half-Hanukkah.”
Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy gaming, and may God bless.

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Silas Green

I have a job that keeps me up late, so I don’t like waking up early. If I could start Christmas Day around noon or later, I would.
I tend not to get away with this.
So I’m up, bleary-eyed and foggy-brained, making my way zombie-like to the refrigerator, searching for something sugary. The day being what it is, I find it.
I’d prefer to spend all day with my family, and maybe part of it with a close friend or two, but I have to call in to work to make sure they don’t need me. (A lot of people complain about the poor souls that have to work on Black Friday, but having to work on Christmas is worse.)
Usually they have plenty of coverage and don’t need me. I say a prayer just in case. (At this very instant, somewhere on earth, someone is having the worst day of their life. Yet here I am, praying for something petty.)
I try to avoid wishing any Jehovah’s Witnesses I know a Merry Christmas.
At some point I try to listen to Rich Mullins’ wonderful Christmas song, “You Gotta Get Up.”
I try not to find myself anywhere anyone is playing that song that says “Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love…” Who ever thought it was a good idea to write a Christmas song whose sole purpose seems to be reminding people of the ones that won’t be sharing this Christmas with them?
On that note, I probably find a moment to let a certain familiar sadness have its place. On a day of celebration and joy, there’s still room for grief.
Sometime during the day I wish Jesus a Happy Birthday. (No, Lord, I know you probably weren’t born anywhere near the 25th of December, but, you know… it’s tradition…)
I make it onto Facebook at some point and see what my far off family and friends are up to. Then I try to avoid all those anti-Christian memes that my atheist friends feel the need to share on Christmas and Easter. (Yeah, I know all about the pagan origins of the holiday. If people don’t have something better to do than to share with everyone what a humbug they think it all is, I might have to share with them a certain Bible story. It’s found in the book of the minor prophet Ebenezer, if I recall correctly, and talks about how this guy is visited by three familiar spirits…)
But what I actually do is share my “All Your Holidays Are Belong to Us” meme. With love.
My family eats a meal together. And then presents are exchanged. I feel inadequate about the gifts I’m giving. My dad still hasn’t used several of the gifts I’ve given him over the years. It’s so hard to find the right thing.
And before I know it, the day’s passed. Time to get started on my New Year’s resolutions and start working off the mountain of calories I’ve just consumed. (I’m pretty sure the Bible says that when it comes to the sin of gluttony, pumpkin pie is exempt.)
I wish a Joyous Christmas to all of you. I love you. ^_^

 

Victoria Grace Howell

Christmas has always been a bittersweet time of the year for me. I’ve shared many happy and sad moments on this holiday, so I’m always a swirl of emotions around this time of year. For my family, Christmas starts right after Thanksgiving. We put up the Christmas decorations on Black Friday or sometime that weekend.
In December, we usually go to at least one Christmas concert or play and several Christmas parties. My favorite Christmas party is my Aunt Mary’s annual Christmas tea at her house. She’s had that since I was little, so growing up I’d see my cousins when we went to it. Somewhere amid the busy month Christmas shopping and a trip to see Santa at the mall would make its way into the itinerary. And of course we played Christmas music and watched Christmas movies all month up until Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, we always went to look at Christmas lights. We’d bring along gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa and hot cider for me since I don’t like cocoa while we looked at the lights in various places in our area. Then we’d come home and my dad would read us the Nativity and we’d get one Christmas present that had something to do with sleeping or the morning like a new pair of pajamas, a robe, slippers, or a stuffed animal buddy. As a kid, right before bed we’d leave cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
I could never sleep very well on Christmas Eve so I woke my parents up as soon as the hour was decent to be awake aka around 7 a.m. Then my dad would make breakfast and after we ate, we’d open Christmas presents. There were always lots under the tree, and it usually took us an hour or two to get through them all.
Some of my favorites from my childhood were a massive box of art supplies, a stuffed mama Dalmatian with interactive puppies, and a trampoline. After we opened presents, we’d pack up what toys our parents would allow us to take then go visit some family for the rest of Christmas and a few days after.
To this day the traditions are close to what they were growing up. Though nowadays I love hand-making a lot of my gifts for people and my siblings and I have grown out of the kiddy stuff. Christmas is special to me because it is a time of family, giving, and celebrating the birth of our Savior. I cherish this holiday every year. Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one.

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Maurice Pogue

“Daddy,” my oldest my daughter exclaimed, “there’s an Elf on the Shelf hiding somewhere in the school!”
“Yeah,” my youngest son chimed in, “if we find him we’re going to win a prize just like at the YMCA!”
“Daddy, if the Elf is real, then that must mean that Santa is real too, right?” questioned my middle child, the most perceptive of the three. “After all, the elves make the toys that Santa takes to our house.”
I sighed, and explained to them that most kids do believe in Santa, and the Elf on the Shelf is part of an old tradition concerning the celebration of Christmas. I told them that they can have fun with Elf on the Shelf like the other kids, but they had to know that an adult moves the elf around, giving him the appearance that he’s moving.
They are not crushed, but the silence on the way home from school indicated that they were all in reflection of what I had told them. Whether or not we would teach our kids about Santa is one of those conversations that my wife and I had before we got married—one of those hundreds of seemingly innocuous topics that married couples fail to discuss but could be a topic of serious contention.
We both agreed that we would not teach our children about Santa Claus. After all, an ancient man of omniscience (“He sees you when you’re sleeping / He knows when you’re awake / He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake”) and the kind of omnipotence that grants him the ubiquity to defy time by visiting every home in all twenty-four standard time zones in a single night whilst cruising upon his flying sleigh and further defying physics by reducing his considerable volume into particles small yet also dense enough to overcome the  stack of a chimney is a tall tale to substantiate with lies. It is important to us that your children do confuse Santa with any other omnipotent and omniscient figures.
Instead, my wife took the initiative and taught our kids about the actual Saint Nicholas of Turkey, so that they would know from whom the concept of Santa Claus was derived. We explained to them that it is we who purchase their gifts so that they would understand that their enjoyment of Christmas is a combination of God’s blessings and hard work. We explain to them that the main reason for we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and that the gifts that they receive are metaphors for the three gifts that Christ would receive when he was a bit older. No birthday celebration would be complete without a cake, so we get one (or cupcakes) in His name.
Lastly, my wife and I watch The Nativity Story on Christmas day every year. This year it came on early on television, and the kids watched. It actually came on television early this year, and the boys covered themselves when their mother explained to them what circumcision is after they had asked.

Wesley Wood

As a kid, Christmas used to be a highly anticipated event in my life. It was about the presents of course. Sometimes we had family visit and that would be cool, but that just added on to the anticipation of a cool gift I had never thought of before (One year I got a gas-powered motor scooter that blew my mind.).
Now that I am older and have moved out, Christmas has become a time to kick back and visit home. It is a time to relax and get away from work and life. It is true that as I have grown older, my appreciation for Christmas music has grown as well. I still don’t care much for “Silent Night” though. I am unsure how there was anything silent about that night.

 

How do you celebrate Christmas? Let us know in the comments.

Wesley Wood

Wesley Wood is an aspiring film director. He would love to make GOOD films to help spread God's word and help Christians grow.

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