Merry & Bright – My Family’s Christmas Traditions

Many people have been preparing for Christmas for months, but the special day is almost here.

At this point, you’re probably rushing to get last minute presents, baking another dozen of cookies or picking out something cute to wear for all of the family gatherings.

I’m pretty much done with all of the Christmas prep. All I have left is three presents to wrap and some work to take care of. The last little bit of work that I have to do is being done in front of the Christmas tree, so I’m pretty sure that makes it a Christmas festivity rather than work. I am 100% holly, jolly right now.

Even though I am neck-deep in the holiday spirit, moving to Florida in 2010 changed how my family does the holidays. We used to attend tons of family gatherings and other local events with friends and clubs.

For the first few years when we didn’t know many people, it was just me, my parents and my three siblings.  Things were very different, and sometimes the holidays were a little weird. In order to bring back the Christmas cheer, we created some new traditions and have carried on some old ones.

Our Christmas Traditions

Our family’s Christmas traditions have evolved over the years, but something that we’ve always done was make cookies. I thought this was something that most families did, but recently, I learned that’s not the case.

We use my paternal grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe, which is supposedly amazing! When I was about 4, I had a traumatic gingerbread experience (think tiny girl eating her weight in raw dough and then suffering the consequences…) and have not eaten them since. But I really love making them!

When it comes to baking, peanut butter blossoms are one of my specialty. I make the cookie dough with homemade peanut butter and it makes a huge difference! They are my absolute favorite cookies.



Another tradition that we’ve kept consistent for at least 7 or 8 years is a Christmas Eve sibling gift exchange. All of my siblings and I hand out the gifts we’ve chosen for each other on Christmas Eve after we’ve come home from mass.

My dad says his favorite part of Christmas is seeing how excited we all are about what we get for one another. I like this because it stretches out the gifts to two days instead of one!

Even though most of us are grown, we still try to read The Night Before Christmas every year as a family. We also have recently hopped on the matching Christmas Pajama train, which I am not mad about.

Up until last year, we had a little party for just our family on Christmas Eve and then stayed in our pajamas and had a lazy day all Christmas. Now that boyfriends and girlfriends are in the mix, we tend to spend Christmas Eve a little differently.

Our family kind of goes wherever the wind blows us. Sometimes it’s to my brother’s girlfriend’s house, or sometimes we go somewhere with my parents’ friends. It’s nice to have welcoming friends.


Most years, I get super into gift giving, and I usually go all out for all of my friends. But this year, I decided to make a donation to a family in need instead of buying presents for most people outside of my family.

Giving in any capacity is really important to me, so I think this will be a tradition I carry on myself. This year, a few occurrences really spoke to me and showed me how many young and/or single parents struggle to give their children a special Christmas.

I have really cool friends so I know that they won’t have an issue with me donating in their honor. Honestly, I would find it super sweet if somebody donated to an honorable cause in my honor as a Christmas present!


In addition to the traditions we honor, I had the opportunity to go up North over the past few weeks to do some festive stuff with my grandparents and extended family, which was really nice. It brings back the memories of spendings time with my aunt, uncles and cousins and holidays.

I’m so thankful for another joyful Christmas. I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas full of good times and fond memories! I hope the rest of your holiday season is truly merry and bright.

1 Comment

  1. Oh Emily, you made me tear up a couple of time, but also made me smile more than once. All of our gifts have been handed out, cleaned up, and now in my pajamas sipping a class of wine. I also lit the bayberry candle about an hour ago. If we are lucky, it will burn completely to the bottom and we will have the best fortune possible. Merry Christmas to you family. Love, love love, GiGi and papap


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