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Christmas Traditions and a Free Printable

Do you believe in the magic of Christmas? At 52 I still believe thanks to Christmas traditions that have been passed down through the years and the new traditions that we started when we had our own little family.  

I was invited to participate in the Fabulous Fifties Blog Hop.  A very active, extremely creative and incredibly talented bunch of ladies over 50 who are sharing our stories, recipes, experiences or creative endeavors.   I am excited to be sharing over 50 years of our families Christmas traditions with you today.  Plus I have included a couple of printables to help you share in one our favorite family traditions!

Christmas really is a magical time of year for us.  I swear I am married to Mr. Christmas!!  He starts thinking about the holiday season right after Labor Day. 

This is about the same time that I start getting my daily Christmas Countdown texts from him!  They always go something like this…..

By mid-October he is checking all the local radio stations to see who is playing Christmas music even though he knows very well that it won’t be until the middle of November until he hears any!  

The excitement, joy and hope he feels for the season makes it very hard not to be in the Christmas Spirit.  He loves it all.  The music, the shopping, the Christmas baking, the decorations, the church services and carol sings! Most of all he loves the togetherness.  

Christmas Traditions Believing in Magic

Not that I want to lay blame for having such a jolly husband, but I think my family is to responsible for his over-the-top love for the holidays!

Being with family, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and years of traditions are all things I grew up with, and since I started dating Tim when we were just 16, things were bound to rub off on him.  Growing up in his own family, Christmas a bit less low key.  Not to say that he didn’t love Christmas with is own family, but he had never attended a Christmas Eve church service or had a stocking to open Christmas morning until he met my family!!

I don’t need to have a single gift under the tree, but a stocking is a must! My mom still fills a stocking for my sister, brother and I.  Would you believe me if I told you as a kid my favorite find in my stocking every year as a jar of dill pickles!

Even at 52 I still remember vividly Christmas’ from my childhood.  My dad would always make a big deal of making sure we didn’t “shake” our Christmas gifts to try and guess what was inside.  Yet, after we were all in bed, he would get under the tree and give things a good shake himself!

I remember performing at Christmas concerts at school.  Our little gymnasium stage seemed so big back then.

My Poppa had an amazing voice and I remember being quiet so I could listen to him sing carols and hymns in Church.  Christmas Eve was often Church service, followed by treats at my Nan and Pop’s while we watched the Norad Santa tracker on television!

Christmas Traditions

On Christmas morning my Nana and Poppa would come over to our house to open Christmas gifts with us.  After we had finished, we all got bundled up and trekked across the street to their house where more gifts were waiting to be unwrapped! My Aunt was the best Christmas present wrapper.  All the packages were colorful with artfully placed matching ribbons and bows.  I still don’t know how she managed to get the corners so tight! 

My Poppa would pass out one gift at a time and even though we patiently waited our turn to open our gifts, I have no doubt it must of made my aunt wince just a little to see us take seconds to destroy the pretty packaging!

They had the most amazing shiny silver tree that rotated around, while colorful spot lights lit up the entire tree from either side.  Each branch of that tree was wrapped in a wax paper sleeve.  My sister still has that tree and each branch is still carefully packaged.  

Christmas Traditions that keep the magic alive

When all the gifts had been opened and the living room was reduced to a pile wrapping paper, we would eat yummy muffins and homemade hot chocolate before heading home to play with our toys.

Sometimes Christmas dinner was served on Christmas Eve and other years it was Christmas Day.  It was my Poppa’s job to carve the turkey and he took it very seriously, sharpening his knife right before the turkey was ready.  

I don’t think tablescape was even a word back then, but the best china and silver set made an appearance, so we knew it was a special occasion!

Christmas traditions - Christmas Dinner Circa 1967


After both my sister and I were married.  Her in 1985 and me in 1986, we continued the tradition of heading to my parents house on Christmas morning after we had opened our own gifts at home.  When our children came along, my mom and dad took turns coming to either our house first, or my sisters (thank goodness we all lived in the same neighbourhood!).  Then when we were done at our own homes, we would head to our parents house to open gifts together, and finally went to my Nana and Poppa’s for breakfast.  

When we all pack into Mom’s living room on Christmas morning these days, there is not much room to move!

As a child I couldn’t wait to open our gifts, but as time went on what I anticipated and looked forward to the most was being with family and the memories we were creating.  

Even though we don’t all live in the neighborhood anymore, our Christmas morning traditions continues as we gather at my mom’s house.  My Dad, Nana and Poppa are no longer with us, but every single Christmas morning I can fondly remember all those Christmas Eve’s and mornings together.

I know in my heart the reason I still feel the magic of the season is because of family!

Tim and I have created a few Christmas traditions that over the years have become important to our own little family.

Traditions like our annual Christmas Eve brunch.  Even though our home is tiny, we fill it with family and friends invited to enjoy everything from bacon to breakfast casseroles.  Yes, it is noisy and a bit chaotic at times, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

Christmas Traditions

Ever since our girls were young they always had the traditional Lindt Christmas Advent Calendar taped to the fridge door. They look forward to finding a different foil wrapped chocolate behind the little paper door each morning.

A tradition that started when they were just into their teens was the Christmas Activity Countdown.  During the month of November Tim and I would sit down and plan our December Calendar.  We would choose a different activity for every day from December 1st through the 24th.  I would write each activity on a little piece of paper for the girls to reveal each day.  Sometimes I folded them and taped them inside a homemade paper chain.  Other years I just put each one into a little Christmas box to be opened every morning.

We always started by filling in the dates for activities such as Church carol sings, Christmas Concerts, and then added in fun activities that kept them anticipating each and every day.

Christmas Traditions

Admittedly some years things didn’t always go according to plan and we would have to switch out different activities.  Like scheduling outdoor snow activities, but we never got the forecasted snow!

Since we both worked full time, some of the weekend activities were as simple as making homemade hot chocolate together and serving it up in big Christmas mugs.  I would buy a can of whipped cream, shave some chocolate and have mint candy canes as stir sticks.

A couple of nights during the month would be movie nights, where the whole family would “stay up late” to watch a holiday movie.  

On a Saturday or Sunday activities would include baking with mom, wrapping gifts, or shopping for donations to our local community care toy drive.

We always included free activities such as a walk through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights, reading a story, attending the Victorian Candlelight Stroll  or decorating the Christmas tree.

I have included a few of our favorites on a printable pdf and I have also included a printable pdf with blank tags so you can fill in with you own activities!

Christmas Activities Tags

Click here to open and print!


Click here to open and print

Plans for our brunch are in full swing and Tim is plotting the outdoor Christmas decorations.  I am sure our red Christmas truck will have a place front and center.

We have to find a new Church to attend Christmas Eve services since our Church closed last year, and we haven’t yet settled on a new Church home.  My nephew has a new baby boy with family on both sides wanting to spoil him.  Even though things may not look exactly like they do every year, in the end our family will come together to celebrate and create memories!

I am so happy that Tim had the chance to participate in many of those earlier Christmas’ with my family because he is doing an amazing job of keeping the magic alive for our girls and generations to come! 

Until next time…..

Red Cottage Chronicles


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  1. Maureen, this is so sweet! We have our family traditions too and the neat thing is that they do change a little as time goes by. New family members come into the group and others have passed away. We adjust and carry on with great memories and new ones to make. 🙂

  2. I love that your husband gets so excited about Christmas! I have always had to do all Christmas decorating and music listening and movie watching by myself!
    I love those silver trees! I remember having one when I was young.
    I loved reading all your memories and traditions and NOW you’ve got me thinking about Christmas decor!!
    🙂 gwingal

  3. What great memories and your Christmas hubby sounds awesome! I hope y’all find a new church home to attend. I cannot imagine my church closing. As I was reading your post, I was remembering how many times on Christmas day we were digging back through the trash to find a gift that was tossed accidentally into the trash bag. Now thankfully, it’s the recycle bin. Thanks for the printable… I love it! And tell the hubby, I’m with him. My family rolls their eyes when I’m listening to Christmas CD’s in July!

  4. I am totally sold on Christmas traditions! My favorite is my ornament tradition that I have done with my sons every year of their life! I give them each a new ornament and they keep it in their own special box. When they get married I give them their box of ornaments for their first Christmas tree! It has been such fun and now I get to start a box for my granddaughter!

  5. Maureen that is such a heartfelt post. You made me feel as if I was there with your family, watching everyone go from one house to the other to open all those gifts. It is wonderful that your husband loves the Christmas spirit so much that he starts early and plans everything out. I wish you many, many more years of Christmas celebrations. This will be our first Christmas together after many years and I am also really, really looking forward to it. There is nothing more sacred than family.

  6. What a nice post! Christmas is such a memorable time of year. Your post brought back memories of my childhood where I grew up! The printables is a sweet gift to give all of us here. Thanks and I will use them.

  7. I love this. The holidays are so special to me too. All the togetherness and love that floats through the air this time of year makes it the best.

    These traditions and memories are wonderful, and no doubt your children and grandchildren will find the same joy in them too. Isn’t it great to see what you have started and how it’s passed on to your family? The gift of life after 50, seeing the love move from generation to generation.

  8. It’s so nice to see your old holiday pics and that your hubby loves Chrismas and is so excited for it. I wish mine was. I have to kick him in the pants every year to get going but once he does, it’s all good. Traditions are so important and I look forward to making them for my new granddaughter. I’m so excited to be able to share them with her every holiday.

  9. Maureen, what a sweet post! You made us see all your special traditions, and it’s like we were there too celebrating with you & your family. It’s wonderful that your husband really gets into the spirit like he does! I love all the decorations & lights, and especially the snow. We rarely get snow here in the South, so when we do, it’s magical. Thanks for the printables! They’re so pretty! Pinned

  10. Maureen, this is such a lovely story about your family and all of your Christmases! Your husband is also a rare treasure that he loves Christmas so much and enjoys planning and decorating. <3 I'm glad to be on the Fantastic Fifty blog hop with you. Happily pinned and Tweeted for you. <3

  11. Oh I just loved this post. We try so hard to make Christmas really fun and special, but you have inspired me to do even more!! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful traditions. xo rachel

  12. We had a silver tree too! So did my husband’s family! A few years ago I bought one on eBay along with the color wheel to go with it. We put it up every year and gingerly put it away so we can preserve it for years to come!

    1. If I didn’t have two wild dogs, I would definitely set up my Nan’s vintage tree! It awesome that you were able to find one with the color wheels!

  13. Maureen, I really loved reading this because it brought back so many Christmas memories of my own! I could easily write a post or two of some of my family’s traditions when I was growing up. It was great that your entire family lived so close together. Thank you for the printables, which I can print off and give to our youngest son and his family. I know they’ll enjoy it.