Friday Fun – Holiday Traditions

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: What are your favorite holiday traditions? Are they traditions you’ve created or are they long-standing family traditions? What’s one tradition you’ve let go of to make your holiday season simpler or more peaceful?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: One of my favorite holiday traditions is our annual trip into Boston on Christmas Eve. My mom always went there to finish her Christmas shopping and, when we got old enough, she would take one of us with her (I’m a twin so she took me and Donna the year it was our turn). By the time all 5 of us had gone, we were old enough to go as a family so it became the tradition to go in early and have breakfast before finishing (or starting!) our Christmas shopping. My dad and my uncle (my dad’s twin) would be the keepers of the bags, and would usually hang out on a park bench (no matter the weather) in Downtown Crossing while we darted in and out of the stores finding last-minute presents. The day usually included a visit to Arch St. Church and usually ended with a big lunch together–sometimes at Durgin Park and sometime at the food court in Faneuil Hall or Downtown Crossing. Over the years, the number of people has waxed and waned, but I’ve gone every year I can because the city seems magical to me on the day before Christmas.

One tradition my extended family and I have let go of is buying gifts for everyone in the family. A number of years ago there were so many presents under the tree at my parents house that the gifts came up past our knees and spread halfway across the room. That’s when we started picking names out of a hat. Each adult gets one gift for another adult in the family and each child gets one gift for another child in the family. We call it Pappy Christmas (I don’t remember why!) and it works very well. Everyone gets something and we have much more time to hang out and enjoy the holiday season.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: We have two long-standing traditions in our family: crazy, battery-operated toys and scones. My dad is in charge of the crazy, battery-operated toys. It’s an addiction, apparently. Each year on Christmas Eve he presents his latest find. One year, it was a collection of Peanuts characters that each play a different instrument and when you put them near each other, they magically synchronize and play a mini orchestra. Another year, it was those weird sing-a-ma-jigs. We each got one, and wound up playing with them all night, cracking ourselves up and scaring the cat. One of my favorites is the animatronic bear that reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – very cute. The scones are a tamer tradition, by far … and a yummier one. We use the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook and which my mom has made since I was a little girl. We put plenty of melted butter and sugar on top and serve them up with more butter, homemade preserves (also compliments of my mom), and – of course – peanut butter.

Both of these traditions are small things. But since we don’t go in for extravagance, they are a perfect fit. I plan to keep them alive and hand them down to my daughter and, maybe someday, her children. That’s kind of fun to look forward to.

Lisa Jackson Dec 7 5KLisa J. Jackson: I’ve given up most traditions, actually. The only thing I really do is go to my parent’s house Christmas morning for brunch and afterward we swap a few gifts. It’s very low key and I like that. I don’t have any kids, nieces, nephews, or young people in the family. I do enjoy donning a Santa hat (and this year I have a suit!) and hanging out with my friend’s family. I cherish being with happy people who like being with each other. Simple.



hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Traditions? As the only child-free sister of three, and a doting aunt. my holiday celebrations vary every year. They do include seeing everyone in my immediate family at some point, and hopefully at the same time. And seeing my friends who are family. I am working on developing some food traditions with my nieces, but at this point that is making apple pies and borrowing from other people’s traditions. Making perogies and Jamaican patties this year. 


dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: We’re not a tradition-bound clan, except when it comes to food, which is always excellent. Between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, we’re bound to enjoy gravlax, pate, cardomom cookies – and always sticky buns & coffee while we open gifts on Christmas morning. All homemade, of course.

8 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Holiday Traditions

  1. Growing up, selecting books for people’s Christmas presents was the best – bookstores were huge treasure boxes. Not something that wouldn’t fit or be immediately tossed away – or rot and spoil. Even though the gift lists usually don’t include books now – it’s hard to pass a bookstore…an old fashion one. Christmas lives on the shelves there.

    • Hi philosophermouseofthehedge,
      Bookstores are definitely a big part of my Christmas memories! Bookstores are one of the best places to buy great gifts for everyone. Growing up, we always went to the Boston Globe Bookstore on Washington St. in Boston on Christmas Eve, partly to donate to Globe Santa but also to find books that you couldn’t find anywhere else!

      Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories!


    • My dream is to one day do ALL my holiday shopping at an indie bookstore. I’m coming pretty close this year, but my daughter is only 9 (almost 10!), so “just books” for Christmas would not be HER dream come true. 😉

  2. At 55 with a husband that works most holidays tradition is open to my two sons and I. Christmas lights are up and the living tree has become a beautiful artificial one. Since most of my hardcore tradition relatives have passed away, it is now a time to create new traditions. No pressure feels awesome. Since mom and dad passed away recently I feel a great desire to do nothing. The quality of simple things is important; a fire in the fire place, a good book or donating a gift seems like Christmas to me. One thing I must do this year is have a hot buttered rum!!

    • Hi HudleyFlipside,
      Enjoy the freedom from old traditions and enjoy making new ones!

      One year my husband was on call on Christmas and I wasn’t. My stepchildren were with us Christmas Eve but went to their mother’s house to have Christmas morning with her. I was home alone on a beautiful winter morning. My husband had bought me a bouquet of tulips when we’d been in Boston on Christmas Eve so I spent the morning watching the sunlight play across the tulips and enjoying the peace and quiet. It was a lovely morning.

      Enjoy your hot buttered rum!


  3. My family tradition growing up was to put up our good ol’ plastic tree and decorate it with a confused bunch of decorations in the first weekend in December. I always wished and wanted a real tree and I do not know why we never got one. Maybe because of the cost. Now I have my own family and I’ve made it a tradition for us to drive up to the Christmas tree farm in the first weekend of December and choose the fattest and tallest tree (my partner permitting) to take home and decorate with our own bunch of confused decorations! It’s basically the same tradition I had growing up but the house now smells like pine! And when the house smells like pine, I know it’s Christmas!

    • Hi kokomia,
      What a great tradition! I always wanted a real tree growing up, too! Now we have a real tree every year–last year we cut our own at a Christmas tree farm but this year we bought one from the Boy Scout Troop down the street.

      Merry Christmas!


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