With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas less than a week away, memories are being molded and traditions created. Whether passing down traditions from childhood, forming new ones for our families to build upon, or discovering unplanned moments that manage to wiggle their way into our family norms, it’s a great time for discovery, getting creative and refreshingly—simplifying.
Polling mothers from around the country, Chick-fil-A asked hundreds of moms what they do to preserve the holidays and form lasting memories. Of course many top-of-mind traditions involve our favorite topic—food—but not in the way you might think.
Food Traditions: It’s Not What’s on the Table, It’s Who’s Around It
Heidi says she celebrates Christmas with family every year. But rather than letting food prep dominate her time away from her clan, she unabashedly explains, “We do cold cuts for make-your-own subs and we all bring snacks to share.” She says, “This sounds weird, but I do Christmas lunch and we always have Stromboli. It’s easy for me to make and my kids love it.”
Heather seconds this approach. She says her Christmas gift to herself every year is staying home Christmas morning and not cooking. After the gifts have all been unwrapped and everyone is leisurely enjoying family time, she orders Chinese takeout. She equates this tradition to, “No travel means less expense, and not cooking a big dinner means no prep, cooking or clean up. That’s my kind of Merry Christmas!”
Robyn does early prep to preserve her time with family, saying “I precook the turkey & ham so they only have to be warmed that day.” That includes cooking the mashed potatoes ahead of time, which she freezes.
Home for the Holidays
When being home for Christmas can only be in one’s mind, Penny uses technology to bring her family full screen. She looks forward to, “Skyping and calling back home to Greece and seeing their faces light up like ours.”
Kelley says she keeps Christmas at home by alternating years with each side of the family at Thanksgiving. This tradition involved setting expectations early. She says, “We also put our foot down that we would not be going to visit family Christmas Day—because it’s the kids’ day to enjoy and relax.” And in some cases, she’s given up old traditions to make room for new ones, explaining, “The best thing I gave up was mailing Christmas cards.” She says, “I do love them but they were just too much stress.” And lastly, she makes a tradition of getting out of the house, “I plan a Christmas shopping breakfast date with one of my BFF’s which makes it much more fun!”
Making Spirits Bright… Often PJ Style
Brandi has several traditions she looks forward to each December. The weekend before Christmas she throws an annual party with friends where Santa comes and brings the kids a gift they requested. She also makes dozens of cookies. Her list for delivering them is almost as long as Santa’s and includes: “neighbors, older family members, our trash guys, mail lady, the lady at the water house, fire men, our local sheriff that patrols the area, and whomever we think may like some cookies.”
Rachel and Leisha look forward to exploring the Candy Cane Lanes created by twinkling holiday lights. Leisha enjoys the car ride, saying “We drive to see the lights in our PJs with popcorn and drinks for everyone.” And when they’re done, everyone is ready for bed.
Brandi also enjoys looking at lights on Christmas Eve. She says it’s a prelude to a special tradition, “When we get home there is a wrapped present with PJs for the kids to open.”
Keeping with the PJ tradition, Anna says of her family, “Everyone gets into their Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve, and we make snacks and hors d’oeuvres instead of a big meal.” From there, she explains, “We put the tree lights on and turn the real lights off, and we read A Cup of Christmas Tea.”
Lark makes a tradition of securing family time amongst all the activities. She says, “We have an events calendar for all to add their own parties and items to.” But she says most important is, “Making sure one week day is family night!”
Sometimes it’s not the traditions you create, but the ones you don’t. Cam says of her holidays, “I no longer worry about the small stuff.” Her new tradition is to take a night off from outside commitments, “We stay home on Friday. We put on music, decorate, and relax.”
Antonia spreads the love and the work. Along the lines of the old adage, “Many hands make light work,” she says of her family, “We share the cooking and cleaning.” And new approaches are always welcome. She says “Everyone is welcome to buy or cook… Nothing is off limits!”