Christmas looks different in every family. Some send cards, others throw parties or have quiet dinners. In some homes, present exchanges happen early while other families wait for Christmas Eve and Santa to come down the chimney.
These traditions not only vary in every home across the country, but they also change in many ways over the years. As new families are formed and children grow up, long-standing traditions make way for new ones over time.
But no matter how old we get, there’s usually a Christmas that was especially impactful to us. A generous gift, a memorable story, or a meaningful relative gave us a lesson we haven’t forgotten. These moments have reminded us what life is all about and bring us back to believing that all of our days can be merry and bright.
What are some of these special moments and memories you hope to pass on to your household? To get you thinking, here are five favorite Christmas stories that we’ve heard:
I have a very distinct Christmas memory. When I was 11 years old all I wanted was a puppy. I really didn’t think I would get one, but I had to ask. To my surprise, the day before Christmas my grandparents presented me with my very own puppy.
He was a salt and pepper Yorkie that I named Moose. His favorite holiday was Christmas and he loved messing with my mom’s decorations. Sadly, he is no longer with us today but I’m thankful for the 12 Christmases we could spend together. Whenever I was having a rough day, he was always there to listen. That’s my favorite Christmas memory because it gave me my best friend.
Growing up in a small 5 square mile town made it obvious when my best friend, who happened to live across the street, left us for college. During Christmas break, I couldn’t wait to see her. She was home for three weeks.
As a senior in high school, I beyond excited to hear all about how cool college had been. I think we had made plans to go to a Christmas dinner, however, it was icy and snowy and our plans to do anything outside our driveway were put on hold.
Randomly, my parents had happened to buy a hot tub as an early Christmas present to us that year. We thought it would be a fun idea to go out, despite the cold. The freezing drizzle turned to rain above our heads and our hair froze itself into dreadlocks.
We probably should have gone inside but we couldn’t stop laughing. Our hearts were full as we gabbed late into the night and recounted the last few months of our lives. I was so happy to have her back in my corner.
The roads were slicked over by the time she crossed the street to go home. I remember laughing the whole time watching her slide into her driveway. While it doesn’t sound like much, this memory always brings a smile to both of our faces. I think it’s a good reminder that Christmas memories don’t always come from the gifts or the parties, but the time spent with the ones we hold dear.
The Christmas season is about sharing time with the family and friends. It’s a time for cherishing those you hold closest to your heart. Late December is a chance to give generously and celebrate the season together. I’ve always loved this time of wonder, hope and joy.
One Christmas tradition from high school still stands out in my mind as being my favorite. Each year I invited my three best friends over for a Christmas sleepover. This get-together always included a gift exchange, sparkling cider and tons of junk food. My three friends and I would stay up all night watching Christmas movies and opening gifts.
A decade has passed since we had our last Christmas exchange. Today I can’t tell you about the gifts I received, but I can still clearly recall the memories we shared. These girls are still three of my closest friends. This tradition was one of the many things that made our friendship stronger.
When I consider my favorite Christmas memory I will never forget 2002, my 11-year-old self, my cousin/aunt, and the beautiful cherry red Mustang. You see, Christmas time in my household has always been about family.
In this moment, it was about having fun my family while also bending the rules. My (newly acquired) aunt took myself and my cousin to run a few errands on the 27th of December. This winter day in Kansas City, MO resembled most with iced-over grounds and snow falling from the sky.
Wanting to have a little fun, my aunt took us to her church. Upon arrival, I quickly noticed there were no cars in the parking lot and not a soul in sight. I thought to myself, “this is odd”. However, in the matter of a moment, this day made an imprint on my life forever.
My aunt quickly accelerated on the gas and began to use the church parking lot like her own personal race track. Donuts left, donuts right, donuts in all directions if you will. Suddenly our fun came to a screeching halt- the dreaded red and blue lights.
Out of nowhere, an officer was quickly approaching the car to reprimand my aunt for her reckless driving. Pleading her case to have fun, my aunt managed a minimal ticket, a few good laughs, and a lesson learned.
As that could have been the end of the most memorable part of the day, how my aunt responded next was the memory etched in my mind for a lifetime. Immediate after pulling away, my 11-year-old self said, “no one tells our parents- this didn’t happen.”
It was in that moment that my sweet aunt Andrea modeled how to be an adult of honesty and integrity- not letting our behavior define us, but our character. By being transparent with the situation, I learned that it was important to cut loose/have fun, but it was also important to be an adult of integrity.
What lesson will this holiday season bring your family?
Christmastime can bring out the very best in people and teach us valuable life lessons. This Christmas, despite all the hustle, make sure to give extra hugs to your families and friends.
Strike up conversations and be intentional about your time. This season has wonderful potential to open people up to important conversations about life. Maybe you can see what your nephew and his friends are up to, or check in on your granddaughter.
Perhaps this Christmas season is a chance to sit down with your teen and ask about how they’re doing. See how they’re coping, what they’re involved in at school and remind them how much you want them to be safe.
Remind them that you want them there for every Christmas, and see if you can work in time to talk about some of the things teens face today. While these conversations may seem intimidating, teens will appreciate your intentionality to talk with them about their safety. Intentional conversations about safe driving and underage drinking can remind a teen you care and make this holiday season that much more impactful.
The teenagers in your family only get so many Christmases at home. These Christmases have the power to provide sweet memories and lessons that last a lifetime. Take some time this year to ensure these memories last by empowering them to make safe choices.
From our family at Safe and Sober to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season.