Christmas Eve TraditionsDec 05th

There’s something about the end of a year, and the beginning of a new one that makes me all ambitious and plan-happy. I begin to feel the restlessness in November–anticipation for the holidays, and an urgency to “figure out” the new year. All through Christmas I try to dwell on THIS year. Right NOW. But the new year waits around the corner with its fresh, clean slate and endless possibility!

I’ll FINALLY give up Diet Coke. I’m going to learn French! I’ll start my own business. Take up knitting.

I eat that stuff up.

Several years ago, my family started …Wait, no. We “borrowed” from a smarter family a new tradition that meshes the contemplative nature of Christmas Eve with the excitement of the new year. While we weren’t the ones to come up with it, I am so very glad we implemented it into our Christmas Eve traditions!

Here’s the scoop:

On Christmas Eve, after the parasites have been put to bed, the “grown ups” settle round with a glass of wine or cider and my mom hands each of us an envelope with our name on it. Inside those envelopes are our goals from the previous year. First we read those goals to ourselves, and then we write a new set for the next year. The goals are broken into three categories:

Personal, Physical, and Spiritual.

christmas eve tradition

The personal goal can be anything that is subjective to our own life. Obviously it looks different for each of us. One of us might have a goal to get accepted into college, or grad school–or apply for a new position. Another one of us might strive to learn a new skill. For the last two years I have wanted to get better at photography.

christmas eve activities

The physical goal is anything from losing weight, to running a half marathon, to having a natural labor and delivery. (I don’t know if that will be my goal for the year. Ouch.)

Last year, the hubs wrote down, “get a pneumonia vaccine” because we had spent Christmas Eve at urgent care all day–he had pneumonia. Our tradition actually reminded him and he got his vaccine two days ago! Turns out the vaccine gives you a dead arm for about a week.

christmas eve activity

The spiritual goal has to do with our relationship with Jesus. Some of us will strive to share our faith more, while others will want to work on their prayer life. No matter what the goal, it helps to have it written down.

After we formulate our new goals we go around the room and share the previous year’s. This is always a little challenging, because more often than not we have failed at most of the goals. Much hemming and hawing and shaking of the head.

But truly, I love this part because it’s a recap–an in-depth look at each person’s year. I am close to my family, but as I live five hours away from them there is a lot that I miss throughout the year.

As each sibling or parent becomes vulnerable by sharing their accomplishments and failures, we grow closer as a family. Then we each read our new goals and get to share what we are looking forward to in the new year.

My family is a really loud, rowdy, and goofy family. We aren’t the sort that sit around quietly. Half the time our living room looks like a scene in an SNL sketch. There is always at least one brother on a guitar (it can be up to four), munchkins hanging from stair bannisters, a group engaged in a loud discussion, another person quoting Disney movies, someone in the kitchen making cookies, a crying baby, two boys wrestling, oh, and something playing on TV. Whoops! Forgot about the YouTube clips running on a laptop–that is the other constant feature.

I love my family.

Anyways, something about this tradition calms us all down and gives us that much needed time for reflection. It allows us to be open and serious, for once. It’s a safe place.

Sealing that envelope for the next year is a promise to make a change. And that is the greatest thing about a new year. So if you’re looking for things to do on Christmas Eve, I highly recommend you consider this tradition.

Do you have any special traditions for Christmas Eve? Please share!


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20 Responses to Christmas Eve TraditionsDec 05th

  1. Natalie December 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Love this idea! thanks for sharing! My family doesn’t do anything like that but they usually have a fun movie night after they set up luminarias around the lake by our house and then walk around and sing carols. We missed it last year because we were up in OH with my DH’s family and again we’ll miss it this year because we’ll be here but at my FIL’s. Sucks but at least we won’t have to leave my families for Christmas Day celebrations!

  2. Debbie McCormick December 14, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    What an awesome idea. The only thing we do as a tradition with my family is playing Dirty Santa. It is a time to be vicious and uncaring and only looking out for ourselves. We really need to be sweeter – I mean, it’s Christmas! My family is loud and crazy too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      We did that last year too! It was so much fun. We always draw names and changed it up last year. I actually enjoyed the game more than getting a nice gift. We had such great laughs from that and then it was so cool to wind down with the goals πŸ™‚

  3. candotche December 14, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    I love us!!!! I cannot wait for the madness!

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      I cannot wait! I forgot to include how you trace Josie’s hands πŸ™‚

  4. Chris Carter December 14, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    What a great tradition!! It’s so neat to hear about your family and how close you are! Maybe my little family will try something like this… πŸ™‚

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      Well, we certainly aren’t perfect, but I love them so much. We’ve been through quite a bit and it feels like a constant work in progress. This is definitely something that helps us stay close!

  5. kerri December 14, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Wowzers! I love this idea for New Years! In fact, we will be in Colorado for a family ski trip on New Year’s Eve. So stealing this. πŸ™‚ Cheers!

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      Glad you liked it πŸ™‚ It really is a cool thing to do. I’m excited to incorporate my kiddos when they get a little older. It’ll be sweet to see where they start and where they end up.

  6. Margo Hayes December 14, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Great description of our time – and I can put faces to each of the nameless family members you described so well; i.e. “brother on a guitar…”. Can’t wait to be together again with everyone:)

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 6:52 am #

      Me too!

  7. Rhoda Jane December 14, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Love this idea! My extended family usually eats really naughty, but super yummy food, laughs a lot, then we start singing. We start with silly Christmas songs (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.) and end with spiritual songs. Since my family is pretty musical the spiritual ones are usually very pretty to just sit and listen to. Then, my grandfather (a pastor for many years, now retired) reads Luke 2.

    This year we won’t be with them, but my parents are coming to us, so who knows! Maybe we will try this!

    • hillary December 14, 2012 at 6:51 am #

      That sounds lovely! And yes, you should try it this year. Tweak it however you like!

  8. Kim December 14, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    I am sure we are related now! Loud, rowdy, goofy, family with at least one brother on guitar (I have 4 brothers, 2 play guitar.), kids racing through the house, whoops of joy and laughter coming from the living room and kitchen… The older cousins, including my two girls, joke about how intimidating it is to bring a boyfriend or girlfriend to one of our holiday gatherings just from the sheer size and volume alone. At the end of the day, though, we love one another dearly, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

    Last year we started a new tradition. We do a leisurely family Christmas (5 of us) in the morning of the 24th. We eat and laugh, and open our gifts, and really enjoy the time together. We’ll go hang out with our whole family for the afternoon, and then attend our church service in the evening, which is simple and lovely, and ends with Silent Night, accompanied only by the single, lit candles we each hold.

    Holding our celebration on the 24th allows more breathing room for the two Christmas’ we have on Christmas Day, one on my hubbie’s side at his mom’s about 1 1/2 hours away, then back to my family’s for more food and a boisterous Yankee Swap.

    Whew! It’s always been a whirlwind, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
    I’t so nice to read about family that loves one another. Thanks for that delightful glimpse, Hill. Oh, and here’s a link to a piece I wrote about my family and music:

  9. Karee Alexander December 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Great ideas! We have done something similar and it’s such an inspiring time. Man, I miss you guys! πŸ™ I love you!

  10. Candotche December 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    I can’t wait till Christmas. I love our family! Ps. Can we get these printed up? The way you designed these are awesome and beautiful!!! I think they’d be perfect!

    • hillary December 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      I was already planning on printing them πŸ™‚

  11. Emma December 6, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    After we go to the Christmas Eve service at church, we always come back home and sprinkle our reindeer food outside-which is just little bags of uncooked oatmeal and purple glitter, we get them when we pick out our tree-and we set out water for Rudolph, which gets red food coloring in it late at night. Then, we all get to open one present which is always new pajamas. Then sometimes, we’ll watch Frosty or Rudolph and then go to bed, but it seems like the longest night of the year!

    • hillary December 7, 2013 at 12:04 am #

      That is so precious! I love all those traditions. I might need to steal the reindeer food πŸ™‚


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