10 December

#BlinkBlog: Christmas Memories & Traditions

With Christmas just weeks away, we asked our Blink authors about their favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Read below to see what they share!

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What are your favorite Christmas memories? 

Alison Gervais: Most of my favorite Christmas memories involve my family in one way or another. There are too many to pick from!

Annie Sullivan: My favorite Christmas memories are decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving, going to pick out the Christmas tree (with three siblings, it was always a competition to see who would be the one to find the lucky winner), and making Christmas cookies. All of these memories involve time spent with my family and the traditions I still love doing today.

Christina June: Aside from the actual holiday, I like the anticipation of Christmas and all the festivals and markets that pop up in December.  We always make a trip to the National Zoo for Zoo Lights, where a selfie with the naked mole rat made of out twinkle lights is a must!

CJ Lyons: My favorite Christmas memories when I was a child are from when I was around ten or eleven and was finally old enough to help play Santa for my younger siblings. I had great fun hiding their presents and sending them on elaborate scavenger hunts or wrapping them in fun (and tamper-proof!) ways.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized by delegating Santa duties to me, my parents also received the gift of more time for themselves!

Heather Hepler: Decorating the tree with my family was (and is) a special tradition. We have boxes of old ornaments. Some are from my grandparents. These are beautiful, silk ribbon drums and hand-carved nut crackers. But there are also sad salt dough candy canes from when I was young and pompom elf that looks more than a little frightening.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I grew up in western Pennsylvania, but my parents are both from New York and so we would travel there to visit family for the holidays every year. The car ride took about seven hours and I’d inevitably fall asleep, but not before giving my parents explicit instructions to wake me up the moment we got to the George Washington bridge.

Waking up to that view of Manhattan all lit up was such a thrill. And then I loved watching the Christmas decorations grow from string lights on balconies in Brooklyn to lawn decorations in Queens, right up to my grandma’s Christmas tree in her front window with presents underneath it for me. I still love the NY skyline at night, and mostly moved to NY just so I can see it more than once a year.

Maureen McQuerry: For five years, when our children were young, our entire family danced in the Nutcracker. Claire, our budding ballerina, was everything from a mouse to a snowflake. Our son was Fritz and, not to be left out, my husband and I were parents in the party scene. Our Christmas cards featured all of us in costume.

McCall Hoyle: Honestly, I could write an entire book about my favorite Christmas memories. My dad loved, loved, loved the holidays. His love trickled down to my siblings and me, and we’ve passed that along to our children. I’m pretty sure my twenty-two-year old daughter still believes in Santa Claus. If she doesn’t, she certainly believes in the “spirit of Christmas”. My favorite memory would have to involve the day-after-Thanksgiving traditions of dragging out the Christmas albums. (Yes, they were albums when I was a kid.) Then we would decorate the tree and drink hot chocolate, and light a fire–even if it was too hot for a fire in Georgia–and sing, and laugh, and make plans for the upcoming holidays.

Stephanie Morrill: As a kid, we rarely traveled on Christmas, so most of my memories are me and my parents around the tree exchanging gifts. I treasure that so much that now that I’m a parent, my husband and I have saved Christmas morning for just us and our kids.

Does your family have any Christmas traditions? 

Alison Gervais: My family and I have always have pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve, then midnight mass at our church, and afterward we all open presents. Now that I’m married, I suspect my husband and I will get to create all new sorts of Christmas traditions with both our families, which is an exciting prospect.

Annie Sullivan: We have a few traditions. Everything from putting a nativity scene above our fireplace to hunting for a pickle-shaped ornament on Christmas morning to see who gets to open the first present. But my favorite tradition is having a big breakfast together before we open our presents.

Christina June: We celebrate Polish-style with a Christmas Eve Wigilia and do a more casual Christmas Day meal.  Everyone gets new pajamas on Christmas Eve!

CJ Lyons: Our family’s favorite Christmas tradition, handed down for over two hundred years (my mom’s side of the family was here before the American Revolution), is baking the ugliest cookies you’ve ever seen.

They’re mincemeat cookies (the name alone turns off many! And way back when they did actually have meat in them). The recipe has no measurements other than “glugs,” “pinches,” and “dashes.” Making them is not cooking or baking but rather an artistic feat as the recipe varies according to temperature, humidity, phase of the moon.

They come out of the oven looking like lumpy mud pies fashioned by a toddler. But then you take that first bite and the flavors start dancing in your mouth and…suddenly a recipe that makes twelve dozen isn’t near enough!

Heather Hepler: It seems our tradition is lack of tradition. One year we went to New York City for Christmas where we ate deli food and walked through Central Park. One year we did the twelve days of Christmas, opening a gift a day. This year we bought a lemon tree instead of a traditional Christmas tree because buying a dead tree in the middle of a parking lot seemed incredibly sad to me. Plus now we’ll have lemons in the spring!

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Dressing the pups up in their festive Christmas outfits and attempting to get a group shot is one of my favorite holiday activities. We also love to visit the shop windows in Manhattan every year and of course visit the tree at Rock Center. Also, my daughter pointed out once that each year we get into a big family argument about where the Christmas tree will look best and then always set it up in the same exact spot in the living room. Traditions are important I suppose!

Maureen McQuerry: We love mysteries. So we create elaborate or funny or obscure clues for every present. The giftee can’t open the gift without three attempts to guess the contents based on the clues. Sometimes the clues lead them on a treasure hunt. Sometimes they test their ability to make weird associations.

McCall Hoyle: We have lots of Christmas traditions at the Hoyle house. One of my favorites is family movie night. Most Saturday nights in December involve piles of blankets, pillows, popcorn, and the whole family piled in the living room in front of the Christmas tree, re-watching Christmas movies we can mostly recite the words to. My absolute favorite is Elf.

Stephanie Morrill: One of my favorite things we do with the kids every year is make hot chocolate, load up in the van, and drive around town looking at Christmas lights. Our kids are 11, 8, and 3, so it’s hard to find something that we all enjoy, but that’s one of them!