Our Favorite Christmas Tradition
by Gabrielle Meyer
I love this time of year. It’s full of the nostalgia of times gone by, and the hope of good memories to be made. It’s also full of delicious food, beautiful music, and fun traditions we look forward to continuing year after year.
I’m married to Mr. Christmas. He loves all aspects of this holiday season, and his passion for Christmas has rubbed off on me (I was a fan before—he’s just brought it to a new level!). We have lots of family and friend traditions, but my favorite is our ornament tradition.
The first Christmas after we started dating we were just seventeen. I wasn’t sure what to get him for a present, so when I found this cute little Santa Claus ornament I knew it was perfect for him. He loved it.
The following Christmas we went on a school trip to London and I came across this Santa Claus.
As we walked the streets of London, with this tin Santa in my backpack, a tradition was birthed—one that has lasted more than nineteen years. We decided that wherever we go we will find a Santa Claus ornament to remember the trip.
Since then we’ve bought dozens of fun Santa ornaments and we try to find ones that represent the place we’ve visited. Sometimes the best memories come from the hunt for the ornament. Here are just a few.
This beautiful blown glass Santa is my favorite. It came from New York City in 2000 and sits at the WAYYYYY top of the tree where my little people can’t reach! It’s the second one like this that we bought. The original fell out of my bag in Central Park and my husband went all the way back to the store for a second one.
A rodeo Santa from one of our many trips to Colorado to visit my sister when she lived there from 2005-2014.
From Washington, D.C. in 2001.
From a Caribbean Cruise in 2006.
Sometimes we’ve gone to places that don’t have a Santa and so we’ve become creative. That was how this Santa came to be on our tree. I carved it from a piece of pine that we found when we went to Quetico Provincial Park in Canada on a camping trip in 2000. I colored his hat and cheeks with berries. For 16 years, I’ve wanted to take a wood carving class, but I haven’t had time!
Over the years, we’ve been blessed to travel to many fun places, but we aren’t always successful in finding a Santa, so we’ve bought other ornaments, instead.
This is an acorn from The Breakers Mansion in Newport, RI in 2006. The Breakers is decorated with acorns because they represent good luck & prosperity.
Other times my husband or I have gone on a trip alone, but even if we’re not together we still buy a Santa or an ornament that represents the place.
My husband bought this charming doll during a mission trip to Burkina Faso, Africa in 2008 and we turned it into an ornament.
I think you can guess where this one came from! My trip to Paris in 2009.
The reason I love this tradition so much is that every year, as we decorate the tree, we reminisce about the places we have gone and the things we have done—and dream about where we will go next.
What about you? What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Do you collect ornaments from the places you travel?
Gabrielle Meyer lives on the banks of the Upper Mississippi River in central Minnesota with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing historical fiction inspired by real people, places and events. You can connect with Gabrielle on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AuthorGabrielleMeyer and learn more about her books at www.gabriellemeyer.com.
Gabrielle has two books releasing this month.
Abram Cooper has ten months to turn rough Minnesota country into a vibrant town, or his sister-in-law will take his three sons back to Iowa with his blessing. Until then, Charlotte Lee has agreed to keep house and help raise his children as part of their bargain. But can the single father fulfill Charlotte’s requirements in time to make sure that she and his boys don’t leave—and take his heart with them?
Charlotte is convinced that the wilderness is no place to raise her nephews. But as she watches the community slowly develop, she sees that Abram just might be able to make it blossom. With three little matchmakers bringing her and Abram together, Little Falls could become not just a flourishing town, but the perfect home for their patchwork family.
Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas.
Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children—until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will.
How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum?
Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance?
Gabrielle Meyer is giving away one copy of A Family Arrangement and Seven Brides for Seven Texans to one of my readers. Due to shipping costs and international regulations, giveaway is only open to US mailing addresses. Giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies.
Thank you for hosting me, Carrie!
always a pleasure 😀
I think our special tradition has been more about the seasonal food/desserts/candy for the holidays, including Thanksgiving on into the Christmas time period. I came from a family of women who loved to cook.
ours is more that way as well, Cathy
Sounds yummy, Cathy! We have a few cooks in the family, but it’s not one of our strengths. 🙂
We like to bake a Birthday cake for Jesus. My favorite ornaments have been coming from my 96 year old grandmother who gives us one of her ornaments every year as a tradition.
awww i love that, Connie!
What a sweet tradition from your grandma. And we used to bake a birthday cake for Jesus when the kids were younger. One of my fondest memories of Christmas past.
Just hubby & I. We do a small amount of decorating. I have 2 cats, so the tree is ceramic & sits on top of a table. I put out a nativity, and hang a homemade banner. I stole an idea from Martha Stewart for a Christmas card wreath. We have a few hand carved ornaments & Santas from a friend that are displayed. That is all.
i used to go all out with decorating but now – with my health issues – i do very little.
Same here. I haven’t even pulled my little tree out of its box yet. I don’t know where to put it, the table it used to go on is no longer with us.
Sounds cozy, and I love the Martha Stewart idea.
We collect old balls.
like Christmas ornament balls, Marilyn? I bet there are some beautiful ones!
Some of those old ones are very beautiful! My mother-in-law has some from her childhood tree.
My favorite family tradition was when my brothers and I were young and mom would put us all in her bed on Christmas Eve and she would be in the front room wrapping presents from “Santa”. Then she would sleep on the couch until we woke her Christmas morning. I did the same tradition for my girls. I don’t travel, so I don’t get to collect ornaments. 🙁
awww that’s a sweet tradition, Debbie!! What great memories!
That sounds like a fun memory and a wonderful tradition to carry on.
My husband and I talked about Christmas traditions we wanted to do with our kids before we had kids and one that we decided to do and that the kids love is “hay boxes” (basically in place of stockings). The night before Christmas we read the story of Jesus’ birth including the wisemen and their journey to find the Messiah. Then we pretend (They know it’s pretend, a fun game that we play.) that the wisemen are on their way through that night and we leave boxes of hay for their camels. In the morning, the hay is gone and there are small gifts/trinkets (more or less stocking stuffer type things) as a thank you from the wisemen for the hay left for their camels.
oh how fun!
What a fun thing to do! I’ve never heard of hay boxes. Did you come up with the idea, or hear about it from someone else?
We kind of took an idea we’d heard of and tweaked it to make it our own. There’s a Catholic tradition that we’d heard of where children leave their shoes out on a window sill or by the fireplace for St. Nicholas Day for St. Nicholas to leave small gifts in for them. Sometimes the children leave hay or carrots in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ donkey. We are not Catholic, but we liked this idea and so we changed it up a bit and made it our own by reading the Christmas story and then leaving hay for the wisemen’s camels.
When my daughter was born I would always get each of us a special ornament every year. As she got older she got to pick them out. They all had to fit the person they were for. We have 14 doggie ornaments too. I packed up a bunch of hers and shipped them to her for her first Christmas as a new wife. I’m not sure she still has any or not. The military lost several of their boxes when they moved.
I don’t do much of anything anymore. In fact, my husband just ordered his own Christmas present. I’ve seen several little book cover trinkets I’d like to know how to make.I think they would make nice ornaments for my little tree.
My mom still buys each of us an ornament, and since we all live in the same town, she’s kept the ornaments and we all get together and put them up as a family on my parents’ tree. With four kids, four children-in-law and twelve grandkids, there are a LOT of ornaments and she adds twenty more each year. It’s quite the tree. 🙂
You can probably find tutorials online for some of those!
Thanks for sharing. Fun ornaments 🙂 I don’t generally collect them, and I don’t really travel a lot. The main traditions we have are putting up the tree on Thanksgiving day and going to the movies on Christmas day. We also attend the Christmas production at our church.
Sounds like a fun way to spend the holidays.
I attended my very first Christmas Day movie when the first LOTR movie came out. Forever ago now but seems like just the other day lol
We actually have two lighted trees up in our house this year. One is only about 4 feet tall and slim, but the other is about 7 feet tall and takes up a lot of room. We just got married last year so haven’t started a lot of traditions yet, but my husband was very proud of the ‘our first Christmas’ ornament someone gave us last year?
Wow! I’m always amazed when people can manage more than one tree. 🙂 Sounds beautiful!
Awww so sweet!
I haven’t collected ornaments from places I’ve been, but each year I buy an ornament for each of my grandchildren. They can put them on their tree, and when they get married or move out on their own, they have some ornaments for their tree.
I do have a collection of Santas that my sisters and I used to exchange over the years. I’ve got a lot of them now, but I usually don’t put them up anymore.
That’s a wonderful tradition for your grandchildren. I’m sure they will appreciate it more and more the older they get.
I love the idea of getting an ornament for each of your grandchildren! I may have to do that for Ben this year…
I put their name and year on them somewhere, so they know which year they got it. I usually get them all similar ones, but once in a while I’ll find a special one. This year I found an Eiffel Tower one at TJMaxx for $3.99, so I gave it to my granddaughter who went to Paris with her parents. She’s always loved the Eiffel Tower.
I think it would be fun for you to start that for Ben, Carrie! Just make sure they’re relatively unbreakable until he gets a bit older.
ah yes – good point LOL
I used to have a collection of ornaments made by my 4 children during school and scouting years. They were always put on the tree. Unfortunately, they got lost when stored in an old house…..ruined by the conditions. I quit putting up a tree other than a ceramic one that requires no decorating. When I taught, I would help my students to make a Christmas ornament each year incorporating their little picture provided by the photography company. For some families, that was the only pic they got for that year. Loved doing this for them. Not sure you can do that in today’s politically correct environment.
Oh nancy, how heartbreaking about losing those ornaments!!!
Thank you,Gabrielle for sharing your lovely Christmas ornament tradition with us! Loved learning about it! Our ornament tradition is a mixture of new and old. Some of our old ornaments date back 100 years(those we put in cases or on the highest part of the tree),also among our many ornaments is a ballerina from the Nutcracker ballet which I took my niece to in Cleveland.In fact it was our very first ballet, it brings back many happy memories.
100 years?!? Oh wow, Lynne!! That’s awesome!
I have collected annual ornaments ever since I married. It’s amazing to see how the styles have changed over the years.
oh that’s interesting!
We’ve collected ornaments over the years too, and for our children. We were married 2 days before Christmas, so the most precious ones are from our first Christmas together 28 years ago. Thanks for doing a giveaway!
awww what sweet memories, Karen!
Our family has traditional foods for Christmas. My brother loves my sweet potato casserole so I always make it. Country ham was my Daddy’s favorite and we always have that in his memory. My mother-in-law served custard each Christmas so my sister-in-law makes it now. As for other traditions, I always set a small, lighted Nativity scene under our tree. It isn’t very big and certainly not expensive but it is OURS!
mmmm i love custard!! Haven’t had any for years!
We collect christmas ornaments from our disney vacations. We have quite a few of the characters and it reminds us of our fun family vacations too. Some are of characters the kids have met and gotten autographs of.