10 Wonderful Holiday Rituals

What are your holiday traditions? On Christmas Eve, my dad always busts out Trader Joe’s molten lava cakes, which are ridiculously delicious (and take only 45 seconds to microwave:) If you’re looking for ideas, here are 10 funny and inspiring holiday rituals from readers’ comments

Anna Rose Jones says: “For years, my seven siblings and I have slept around the Christmas tree. Luckily, there’s enough room in the living room for eight grown adults!”

Nichol says: “After moving to Southern California, we spent our first holiday away from family. To embrace our new setting, on Christmas Eve we made an epic pan of oven nachos (gooey cheese, homemade salsa and an embarrassing amount of sour cream). We loved it so much that the tradition has stuck. It’s nice to have something casual tucked in with the formal celebrations of the season.”

Rachael says: “My absolute favorite is that on Christmas I give myself a day off from everything — work, running, and all parental responsibility. We stay in our pajamas all day, everyone is gifted a box of their favorite cereal (the ones we only buy on Christmas because they’re too junky for normal consumption!), and then we just play with all the new stuff. I take a total mental break from worrying about meals, homework, music practice, nap time, etc. and let everyone do whatever they want. Last year, my husband and I spent six hours working on a 1,000 piece puzzle, and the kids trickled in and out helping with the puzzle/playing with toys/reading books. I went into the kitchen at one point and found my four- and two-year-olds sitting on the table, clad only in their underwear, and eating Jell-O salad with their hands… and just said, ‘Carry on, my dears,’ and walked back out. I am usually the most Type A and helicopter-y of mothers, so it’s a fun break for everyone involved.”

Sarah Beth says: “We’re Jewish, and we do normally do the movie-and-Chinese-food on Christmas Day thing. But the Chinese restaurants in our really Jewish neighborhood get insanely busy. Last year, with a one-month-old baby, we decided to try the only other open restaurant in town: a lovely Indian place. The food was delicious, there was zero wait, and it was the start of our own little family tradition! I’m already looking forward to this year’s Christmas Day samosas and matar paneer.”

Ashley Sawyer says: “I grew up in foster care, and thus haven’t had a lot of family traditions to rely on throughout my life. During my sophomore year of college, however, my best friend and I randomly spent Christmas Eve together. What started out as an evening spent eating snacks and exchanging a few haphazard gifts has now grown to become an all-out event that we both treasure. At thirty two years old, we’ve spent the last thirteen Christmas Eves together. We have a fancy dinner, a big tree, decorations and lots hugs. We’ve endured failed recipes as amateur cooks, the ending of relationships, graduate school and pets – it’s what I suspect many people experience with their brothers and sisters. I live a great life now and am so lucky. Creating this tradition with my best friend taught me that family and love is truly what you make of it. And, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?”

Maywyn says: “My small single parent family created the tradition: No arguing during the holiday season — December to New Year’s Day. A squabble starts… somebody says, ‘Oh, we can’t do that until January’… and that’s the end of that!”

Sabra says: “Hanukkah is the only time my family makes latkes at home. We light candles, gather a bunch of toppings (sour cream, applesauce, chopped chives, juicy red fish roe) and get all the kids involved in peeling potatoes and pushing them through the food processor. We serve them with roast chicken and a green salad. It’s always the best family meal of the year.”

Elle says: “We live by the mountains, so on Christmas Eve we hike in the snow with my nieces and nephews and all our dogs. We carry a bunch of sleds up and when we are about a mile up we hop on and sled down. There’s something so lovely about being outside in the cold and then all coming back home for a hot meal and festivities.”

Katherine says: “Margaritas on Christmas Eve. This year we’ll clink glasses in honor of my dad: He has Stage 4 cancer, but we just found out that both his tumors have shrunk and are now about half their original size. I’ll drink to that.”

Megan says: “My grandmother was from Mexico, and my family has been eating tamales every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. I hope our daughter finds herself writing about this same tradition on a blog post in the future!”

Thank you so much to all who shared their rituals! What are yours? Will you adopt any of these? (Find many more great ones in the comment section here, if you’d like.)

P.S. An ode to rituals, and the 2016 holiday gift guide.