What happened to Christmas traditions? Oh, that’s right, I grew up.


For some reason, this year I have been more contemplative about Christmas traditions than I have been in the past.  Maybe it is because I am moving to Spain soon, and will spend the next holiday season away from family.

I wondered about Spanish Christmas traditions and what they might look like, and then I thought, “But what do my traditions look like today?  What do I do? What have I done?”

This then got me thinking about all of the different traditions I do currently or used to do over the course of my life.  Those that I could remember anyway.

Here are some that I miss.

  • Caroling. In high school, some girlfriends and I would gather at a friends house and go around the neighborhood caroling to those who would listen.  We actually weren’t too bad considering the majority of the girls were in the high school choir and could carry a tune.  Which was good in my case since I was not in the choir.  We would go up to a house that had lights on and looked inhabited, ring the doorbell, and when they answered we would ask if we could sing them some carols.  After a few carols, we would wish them a Merry Christmas, and be on our way.  Hopeful that we had brightened their evening just a little.
  • Going out to see Christmas lights.  In Portland, there was the famous Peacock Lane.  Each year this neighborhood would light up the dark with their tacky, classy, and just plain fun decorations.  It was crazy to drive down the street. You were trapped in the car and in the spot you were in until the car in front of you moved.  It was a much better option to walk.  Although cold, you could see the lights better, and it was a great excuse to get some hot cocoa.  Apparently, there is a place similar here in Seattle called “Candy Cane Lane”.  How did I not know this? (Ailsa, a fellow blogger, also wrote another festive post about the Seattle Gingerbread Village.  I have lived in Seattle for some 15 odd years.  Why did I not know about these places?)
  • Family gatherings.  (Note to the family: please do not be offended or read more in to this than me expressing some sentiment.  Please no upset emails.)  When I was younger, our extended family would get together for at least one of the big two holidays, Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was young and self-centered and unappreciative of spending time with the family.  Today, I am old enough to realize I have a great extended family.  I like them a lot.  I really do.  But because of Christmas Eve services to run, spouses and their family obligations, and well….growing up, we just don’t gather like we used to.  We did make a point to gather a few years ago when our Georgia cousins were in town.  We had a blast and played a hilarious game of “Carol Charades” my two cousins, Andy and Katie made up.  Ever try to act out, “don we now our gay apparel”?
  • Candle Advent.  This one hasn’t ever really gone away (thanks, mom), but sometimes we do it and sometimes we don’t.  Maybe it is because Christmas traditions are on my mind or maybe it is because the meaning of Christmas is more poignant for me this year, but performing this simple tradition seems important.  In fact, our home group did it at our gathering on Sunday.  There is something about lighting a candle and reading the story of Jesus’ birth, that calms and re-focus’ the hectic atmosphere this time of year can bring.


Those are a few of the traditions that I find myself reminiscing about. The busyness of life, being single, and not being very good about getting out there have caused most of these traditions to fade out.

Not all is lost though.  There are some new traditions that have developed over the years.

  • Christmas Day movie.  This started when the LOTR movies came out, and with just my mom and I.  We decided to keep it going after the third movie, and a chance encounter (coming out of the same theater) with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin a few years ago, prompted us to combine forces.  I love this tradition.  And it is just like adults table vs. kids table.  My mom, her sister, and her sister’s husband sit together and chat. While my cousin Andy, my sister, and I sit together.  We commiserate and laugh to the point of tears, trying to squelch giggles throughout the movie.
  • Watching Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.  I can’t really pinpoint when this started, I think it was on TV and we would just watch it until we decided to get our own video.  It is such a great movie.  Hilarious and touching and ridiculous, all at the same time.  Gonzo and his rat buddy, Rizzo, are the BEST narrators.  I have yet to tire of this movie.  I mean c’mon….it’s the muppets!

With all of this thinking on tradition, I can’t help but wonder what next Christmas will look like when I am in Spain.  What new traditions will I start?  What old one’s will I carry over?  And who will I get to share them with?

Although some traditions died as collateral damage from growing up, I realize the good news is that it is never too late to resurrect an old one or birth a new one.

So, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Feliz Navidad to all, and to all a good night!


About Anne

I moved from Seattle, Washington to join a project in Santiago, Spain called Pilgrim House. The Pilgrim House is a place where pilgrims of the Camino can come and find community, conversation, and prayer.
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One Response to What happened to Christmas traditions? Oh, that’s right, I grew up.

  1. This is what a meaningful , warm, happy Christmas is all about. Beautiful post.

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