Christmas Traditions

This Christmas may have been my best yet.

I know it’s a little late to be writing about Christmas, but we always stretch the season out as long as we can. Or maybe I should say I do. Ryan just goes with it…he’s known me long enough to know there’s no fighting it!

This year we began the Christmas season by attending a Christmas Eve service at our church. It was absolutely beautiful. Mom and Dad Combs, Ryan, the kids, and I all sat together. There was lots of music and a candle lighting. We observed family communion, which means the head of the family (in our case Dad Combs) broke the bread for the rest of us and prayed over us. It was such a refreshing time to bond together as a family while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas and celebrating our faith.

The next day I was up early, blasting Christmas music, cooking, getting the kids dressed, and packing everything up to head over to Gramma and Papa’s house. We were almost late for dinner, but our kids made up for it by looking way too adorable to be allowed in their Christmas pajamas.

As usual, there was waaaay too much food, and just as much fun, jokes, and laughter, and we stayed way past the kids’ bedtime playing games. My sister Nikki and I swapped stockings this year. She took care of my kids and I took care of hers, and I’m pretty sure we were both more excited about our amazing idea than the kids were. I went and bought three times more than can fit in a stocking. I didn’t hear Zayden complaining though, so this is definitely a tradition we will be continuing!

Last night Ryan and I had our own Christmas Eve celebration with the kids. During the afternoon, the kids and I made popcorn garland and peanut butter pinecones for the squirrels and birds. I wanted to start out by giving a gift of some kind, and we had already given all our Christmas presents to family. It was such a fun and easy craft, and all of them were able to participate. We all decorated the apple tree in our front yard with the animal treats when Ryan got home from work. Then we came inside to eat chicken nachos, popcorn and Christmas cookies while watching a Christmas classic from my childhood: Miracle on 34th Street.

This morning was lazy and slow. I got up and made breakfast pizza and cinnamon rolls from scratch, which is the ultimate Christmas brunch around here.

The breakfast pizza comes from Ryan’s side of the family. Dad Combs has made it every single year I’ve been out here, and it is always one of the most anticipated meals of the whole year. Topped with eggs, sauteed onions and bell peppers, sausage, sausage gravy, and cheese, “Dad’s breakfast pizza” was legend. Until a couple years ago, when all of us kids had finally moved out of the house, and he started texting us pictures of the breakfast pizza he had made for himself and Mom on Christmas morning. That’s when I decided it was time for us to pass on the tradition!

The cinnamon rolls come from my side of the family. When Dad Hollstein was a little boy, his grandma would make sticky buns while all the grandkids had a snowball fight in the front yard. He and my mom passed on this tradition. I remember waiting in my bedroom every Christmas morning, while my mom and dad made brunch. We weren’t allowed to come out because they had to stuff the stockings and put the presents under the tree! I could smell the sausage and the cinnamon rolls and I could hardly stand the excitement!

So as you can see, to me it just isn’t Christmas without a fancy Christmas brunch. I made enough breakfast pizza and cinnamon rolls for the whole dayAnd probably tomorrow too.

The kids opened the presents my parents (Hollstein) sent for them, and have been playing with their new toys most of the day. William got a 100 piece set of tinker toys to go with the set his Gramma and Papa (Combs) already got him, and I’m not sure if he or Ryan was more excited. I have actual video footage of Ryan building everything from a fan to a sword, because he will vehemently deny that this happened.

Tonight we are going to watch my favorite Christmas movie of all time, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When we put the kids to bed we will read them the Christmas story, because I want the last activity of the day to be the most important.

And as they fall asleep, I hope their hearts are full of the love of family and the excitement of traditions that have been passed down through several generations. But most of all, I hope their hearts are full of the knowledge of the Savior’s love, and the understanding of just what He did for the world when he stepped out of his glory and joined us here.

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