Here's my brother and sister in the mandatory in front of the tree picture.(1960)
On Christmas Eve we would place our stockings by the fireplace and leave cookies and milk for Santa. The next morning we were up early, excited to see what Santa had left us. After breakfast we would pass out the presents. We would then go around in a circle taking turns opening a present. This way we could also enjoy the gifts that others received. We always knew which gifts were from our Dad, because he wrapped his in the Sunday comics. He did this his whole life for every gift giving occasion. He was of the opinion it was going to get ripped up so why use fancy paper.
My mother's parents lived in another state so they would mail our gifts. It was always fun to receive a package. We would take out each gift, read who it was for and place it under the tree. Every year they sent my Dad socks. It became quite the joke. We'd open the box, pull out the wrapped gifts, " Oh Dad, here's your socks."
My husbands family didn't have a lot of traditions so he was fine with using most of mine as we started our family together.
This is our daughter's second Christmas (1969) (She was 6 weeks old on her first.)
Our daughter and son, for his first Christmas (1971)
I know some families do Christmas eve church, then presents. We've always done everything on Christmas day. As our son and daughter got older they were in charge of passing out the gifts. We continued to open gifts one person at a time. It not only makes the fun last longer, you also get a chance to enjoy the person's reaction when they get to your gift.
Every year I like to buy one or two new ornaments for the tree. Over the years I've collected quite a few. Some I've already passed on to my children.
One year we had an exchange student from Switzerland. She had the opportunity to learn our traditions and we got to learn about how she celebrated the holiday. Exchange student in the center (1985)
Now that our children are both married they carry on some of the same traditions with the addition of a few new ones from their spouses. It's nice to see them carry on our traditions but I also enjoy seeing them develop their own.
This picture was the year our daughter and family came to Wyoming for Christmas, when her daughter was 15 months old and our grandson was 6 months.(2007) See A Ready Made Friend
Granddaughter 2 years (2008)
The grandson enjoys making cookies and gingerbread houses with his Mom (2013)
Both the grandchildren have a new tradition that they enjoy. A visit from the elf on the shelf.
Last year my granddaughter's elf decided to hang out in the refrigerator. When she found him she made sure he got warmed up.
Here she is last year, all snugly watching a Christmas program.
Traditions of course don't have to be written in stone. They might change as life circumstances change. But I know I have fond memories of my childhood Christmases. And I hope my children and grandchildren will too. Being with family I think is the best part of the holidays. Sometimes we can't always be in the same place. But with today's technology you can still enjoy their company with Skype and Face time. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, full of love and laughter. Whatever your holiday traditions, enjoy them to the fullest.
A thought to ponder: "Tradition is not to preserve the ashes. But to pass on the flame." Gustav Mahler