All month we have been asking for our readers to send in some of their families favorite Christmas traditions. We were so excited when so many of you offered to share your families memories with us. Memories of those we loved that are now gone, recipes that are made at this time each year, childhood traditions, and memories we hope to build now that we are young mom’s. We hope that you enjoy reading these stories as much as we have. Merry Christmas everyone!
7-Layer Bars (Magic Bars)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecan bits
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add graham cracker crumbs and blend together. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chips over crust, then sprinkle coconut and pecans. Drizzle entire pan with sweetened condensed milk. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until coconut is toasted and the milk has started to bubble slightly.
Allow to cool completely before cutting. (This the the HARDEST part). Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.
My Christmas cookie story:
Every year my mom made hundreds of Christmas cookies, bars and candy! My next door neighbor, Mrs. Knox, used to come over and her and my mom would bake all day long making all their favorite cookies and candies! They would make taffy together and I used to stand in our dining room pulling it and then they would cut it into pieces and wrap it up. When I was growing up our dining room table was the size of a ping-pong table and as Mama and Mrs. Knox made their confections, the table would fill up from one end to the other with tons of baked goodies! When they were all done, my mama would store her cookies in cookie tins behind the rocker in her bedroom. I used to sneak up there and take cookies, but my all time favorite was the 7-layer bars! Those and buckeyes would always disappear first!
I grew up the 11th of 12 children in a 3-story house in NC. My mother had the most beautiful nativity that she would set up on the bookshelf every Christmas. Each year on Christmas Eve my family got together at our home. We were each given a character from the nativity or a candle. I always wanted to carry the baby Jesus (to this day I have no idea how anyone was selected to carry each figurine). Once we were all ready, someone would turn off all the lights and we walked all through the house singing Silent Night. I remember when I was really young I would get a little bit scared because it was so dark! Once I was a little older, this tradition took on a whole new meaning though and what I wouldn’t give to be able to do this now with my own children and grandchild.
“When I was younger my dad would make special Christmas pancakes Christmas morning. He would do a different flavor each year (banana, cinnamon, peanut butter etc). ” -Sarah
“My mom would let us open one gift on Christmas eve, because my mom was to impatient/ excited to wait!” -Sarah
“My favorite Christmas tradition started when I was a child and continues through today with my children. On Christmas eve we read stories from a book called, “The Tall Book of Christmas.” Everyone who was able to read took a turn picking and reading a story from the book. My grandmother always finished by reading T’was the night before Christmas. We continued to read this book from the time I was a child, to when I was a teen, to when I got married, and now to my own children. These stories were always the last thing I heard before falling asleep on Christmas Eve. Now they are the last things my children here before they fall asleep on Christmas Eve. This’ll be the first year my grandmother will not be with us for Christmas. She passed away right after my youngest was born this year. As I read “T’was the night before Christmas,” before my children fall asleep I’ll be doing so probably with tears in my eyes but, a happy heart knowing that I am passing on something special she gave me for so many years starting many years ago.”
Since we have lived overseas for many years, we have some of our family traditions, but also have new ones.
An old Christmas morning tradition that my grandparents did with my mom and sisters and then my mom did with me and I did with my kids was to put each child’s Christmas presents in a chair. Then each child took turns opening one at a time. This made the excitment last longer! It was fun to see each present opened and interesting to see how some open their gifts by tearing into them while others went very slowly and neatly. No one could open any gifts until everyone was there, but they could empty their stockings.
A new Christmas tradition we had overseas was throwing a big party for special needs kids at an orphanage. Many of the ex-pat (foriegners) and local community would come together with guest bands, dancers, pizza, gifts, etc. It was some of my favorite memories that our whole family enjoyed. The best time I remember was when our daughter, Grace’s band played and some of the kids came up and danced with her. Espcially a cute little deaf girl who preteneded to sing into a yogurt drink container, and then felt our son-in-law, Viktor’s drum vibration as he played. We loved dressing the kids up as Mary, Joseph, etc. and telling the story of Jesus to kids who never heard it. It was so fun to see a little boy in a wheel chair with angel wings on the back of the chair. These are some of my favorite memories!
As Americans our heritage is truly something like a melting pot, so I like continuing the little family traditions that make me feel connected to the people of my past. To remember that in every generation we’ll face hard times and good times, but no matter what at Christmas, we celebrate.