Staff Picks: Holiday Traditions

image: nadezhda1906
We are Christmas enthusiasts, it’s really embarrassing to be honest. I already have two trees up, four if you count the two small ones in our kids’ rooms. They have been up since Nov. 1. We also have an extensive Christmas village, love cookie baking and are die-hard present wrappers, it goes on and on. But above all, now that we have kids, a very important visitor is our elf, Buddy, from Elf on the Shelf. It’s a pretty popular thing among parents these days. You can look the tradition up but in case you are not as familiar here is the gist: Each family has an elf who flies from the North Pole weeks before Christmas and ends up on a shelf (or somewhere else in your home). Once the child spots the elf, you must name your elf (Buddy in our house). Each night Buddy moves to a new spot, when the children wake, they have to find him. All day long Buddy watches them and at night he reports back to Santa letting him know if you were good or bad that day. —Lilien Perito. image: redrockschool
Christmas is one of the best holidays around and there sure are a lot of family traditions that go along with it. One, my grandpa is from Greece and he has these amazing cookie recipes. My siblings and I bake these cookies year after year and if they aren’t eaten within two days after making them…well they just weren’t good enough. Two, we physically go into the woods and chop down a Christmas tree. Yes, it is a lot simpler to go to Home Depot and buy one, but what’s the fun in that? Three, my siblings and I do all of our christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Weird? Yes. Successful? Always. There is something so invigorating about shopping the last minute, knowing you only have a few hours to get everything done. Four, we leave a large, magical key hanging on our front door for Santa. Why do we do this you ask? Well, for starters my house is more than 100 years old and unfortunately, does not have a fireplace. Since Santa can’t come down the chimney, we simply leave a magical key for him at the door. Five, on Christmas morning we wake up at the crack of dawn and follow my dad down to the first floor. Santa always eats the cookies we leave for him, leaves presents scattered around the living room and writes a friendly note to us all, wishing us a Merry Christmas. These traditions make Christmas with my family incredibly special and I’m sure they will continue for generations to come. — Meaghan McKeever. image: brianaJackson
After Christmas dinner my family sits around the table and plays a game. When all the kids were younger the games were mild and family friendly. Now that everyone participating is of age and the cocktails and wine are flowing the games get super competitive and are filled with jokes, laughs and cheaters. — Melissa Carfero. image: franckreporter
I would love to say this was just during my childhood but it still happens to this day (I'm 31) when I get to spend Christmas with my parents. Ever since I can remember on Christmas Eve night my father reads 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. The next morning when we are ready to open presents my parents collect us from our rooms, make us form a line behind my father (like a choo-choo train) and lead us all through the house, twisting and turning into different rooms and back, never letting us go into the living room where the tree and presents are. Minutes would go by and anxiety would rise waiting for him to lead us to the presents. —Kristin Goat.
We drink homemade egg nog and watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. My Mom and I make it a point to see the tree in Rockefeller Center each year. — Beth Ann Clyde. image: lya_cattel
As kids we celebrated St. Nicholas' Day and LOVED it because it felt special since it's not commonly celebrated in the US. It's celebrated the morning of December 6th. You put your shoes out beside your bed the night before and wake up to them filled with treats! —Alyssa Grant. image: iryna melnyk
My family celebrates Hanukkah. Traditionally, we spend the first night lighting candles, spinning dreidels, trading presents, and indulging in potato latkes and chocolate gelt (coins). — Rachel Kalina. image: stellalevi
A Christmas Story plays on loop in the background for the entire 24 hours it is on. — Sara Pagano

’Tis the season for Christmas tree hunting, white elephants and cookie decorating. Full of history, old stories, some arguments and lots of laughter, holiday rituals define the season. Pulse staffers and contributors shared their most unusual holiday traditions, some they can’t imagine the season without, some they miss and some they’re a bit embarrassed about. Share yours in the comments.