Family traditions are what make the holidays special

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people.

For children, it means presents.  For some older people, it means spending money on gifts for a commercialized celebration that hold no true meaning, while other people view it as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Maybe it is your tradition to celebrate, and maybe it is your tradition not to celebrate.  Either way, it’s a tradition, and these traditions are what make this time of the year special.

My family has a couple “family-at-large” traditions. My father’s side of my family usually gathers together on Christmas day for a meal and gift exchange. 

We typically get together with my mother’s side of the family, which generally consists of my aunt and uncle, my grandfather, and my cousins from that side of the family, on a day during the Christmas season.

Those two things aren’t that unique. Many families probably split up the holiday in such a manner, but what my immediate family does is not as mundane as our other traditions.

It all usually begins on the day before Christmas Eve. Everyone does the mad-dash, last-minute shopping for everyone else. If there’s time, we wrap gifts. If not, the sack it came in will do just fine.

On Christmas Eve, we all head off to church for the annual Christmas program the youth of the congregation perform. We enjoy a few good laughs from watching the toddlers. Then we head back home.

On the way, we sing carols, but not the normal ones. No. That would be boring. 

We sing the carols that are parodies of actual ones. My personal favorite is “Walking in Women’s Underwear” to the tune of “Winter Wonderland.”

Upon arriving back home, my father stokes the fire so we are nice and toasty, while my brother and I get some snacks ready to eat.

Once everything is in place, we each make up a plate of food, which usually consists of summer sausage and cheese balls with crackers.

Presents then begin. My brother and I get a present for each person to open. We all tear into our gifts. Pictures are taken with each gift, and then the process is repeated until all the presents have been opened.

Everyone thanks everyone else for the gifts they received, and then we go to bed. Now I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know I go to sleep as soon as possible because, at that point, Santa is on his way.

I know what you are thinking, “This guy doesn’t really think Santa is real, does he?”

Of course I don’t think he exists . . . I know. Say what you want, but I’ve seen proof. 

Now some may try to argue the tracks I saw were from the dog, but why would the dog walk right where the reindeer land Santa’s sleigh?

On Christmas morning my brother and I rush to see what Santa brought us. Then we check our stockings. Mother and father are always really surprised by what we got.

I love my family traditions.  They may not be traditional, but they are ours.  And that’s all that really matters.

Now all that’s left is coming up with a New Years’ resolutions. Maybe I’ll vow to learn how to crochet.

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About toddvogts 834 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at

1 Comment

  1. Not crochet — KNIT, for heaven’s sake! Sounds like a nice family Christmas. And you and my husband would get along famously. He will never stop believing. And if you see my toddler anytime soon, you’ll have to ask him to say his recitation from the Christmas Eve program. He got chuckles, indeed.

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