Monday, December 17, 2012

Merging Holiday Traditions

I loved Christmas when I was a kid. I wish I could say it had something to do with the religious aspects, but it was the presents, the toys. It was the best time of the year because I got more toys than I could conceivably play with... although I did give it my best effort.

In our family, we opened gifts on Christmas morning. During the night, while we slept, Santa brought our gifts and left them out for us. There were four of us kids, and we all had our special spot. Mine was the single chair in the living room. When I came down Christmas morning, my chair would be covered with toys and clothes. Not wrapped, just neatly laid out.  The year I got a new bike it was parked next to my chair. The same with the chalkboard I received the following year. It was like a party. And later, after my parents woke and got their coffee, we attacked the wrapped gifts under the tree; the ones we'd gotten each other. It was a wonderful experience and although I couldn't put it in words then, when I got older I knew I wanted that same experience for my children.

My first week of law school I met the man who would become my husband. Now, this blog post is not the place for THAT story, but we were inseparable from that moment on. Christmases during the years we dated and the ones after we married, before children, we spent rotating between our two families. He was surprised the first holiday he spent with my family to learn we opened gifts on Christmas morning.

His family opened gifts on Christmas Eve!

As I expressed my incredulity, he went on to share his childhood experience of opening gifts at night on Christmas Eve. And all of his gifts from Santa were wrapped and nestled under the tree. I smiled indulgently, but I knew in my heart that if he was lucky enough to spend his life with me, our children would follow my family's traditions, not his weird ones.

Ten years later, we had a choice to make. We had three children and one was old enough to understand Christmas and look forward to it. We'd continued visiting our families during the holidays, but we both knew it was time to start our own family tradition, and that meant staying at home.

And settling the long debate of Christmas Eve versus Christmas.

We both had valid reasons for our preference and they were backed by years of emotions and memories. It wasn't easy, but we had to do what was best for the family we created, not the ones we grew up with. And in the end, we came up with a compromise that has since become our family tradition. We open gifts on Christmas morning, but they are all wrapped and nestled under the tree, even the ones from Santa.

From the W3 family to yours... Happy Holidays!!

What are some of your favorite Holiday traditions?

Tracey Livesay
True Love in black & white
Mimosas at Midnight
Twitter: @tlivesay
Facebook: TraceyLivesayAuthor


  1. We open our presents on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day enjoying family. This Is a family tradition we adapted from my DH's family.

    Great post Tracey!

    1. Thanks, Tina! Another person with the Christmas Eve tradition. :-)

  2. Tracey - My hubby and I had the exact same decision to make! When I first visited him and his family at Christmas, I was shocked to find out they opened gifts on Christmas Eve....all of them! That quickly changed when we got married. :-) Another of their weird traditions: after the gifts were opened, they sat under the tree for a solid week, and you couldn't touch them, try them on or out...anything...until New Year's Day. HOW WEIRD IS THAT?! Of course I, unaware of this odd rule, started using one of my gifts immediately, which set off a firestorm of debate. I'm happy to say I won that battle, too, when we married and started making our own traditions. Nice memories, Tracey! Thanks for sharing.

  3. From Elvy -
    Everyone who ever married anyone can relate to this blog, even Jewish people like me aren't immune.