12 Days of Christmas 11

Add a new tradition to make this year even more merry and bright

The holidays are a magical time! For many, it truly is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’. As we become older, we realize it’s not about the gifts or what we receive but more importantly about the time together creating memories with family and friends. We spoke with some Carlsbad residents who shared their favorite traditions and memories of the season and how they love to celebrate.

1.  See the Lights at Night: Going to the San Diego Botanical Gardens – We go every year as a family and often meet friends there. – Marie and JR Phillips

2.  International Holidays: My memories are of having a Lebanese dinner on Christmas Eve. My daughter still does this. Santa would visit on Christmas Eve and I would have presents ready for him to give to my children and any others who stopped by. We would all attend Mass on Christmas day. I still have everyone over for dinner on Christmas night. – Maureen Simons

3. Photos with Santa – Our family always gets a good laugh over my “Santa Claus” table. That is, I put out pictures of the kids and grandkids with Santa Claus from every year. Even mine, when I was a toddler, is on the table. The biggest laughs are from the pictures of the toddler, screaming sitting on Santa’s lap! We also make Buckeye Balls – peanut butter and chocolate, pop in your mouth, yummy treats. I’ve made these treats since the kids have been little. Now my granddaughters make them with me. I also bundle some up and give to my kids’ friends who are all married and have their own families. – Barbi and Greg Nelson

4. New Year’s Good Luck: Every New Year’s Eve, we make Greek bread called ‘vasilopita’ which has a small coin baked inside it. At midnight, each family member gets a slice and whichever slice has the coin, that person is the recipient of good luck that year. It’s so much fun being able to share and pass down this tradition now to my five grandchildren.- Teddie Filipovitch

5. Presents: We always open our Christmas stockings last when everyone else goes home; if we have guests or are traveling we wait until the four of us are together. We each go around and open one gift at a time. It’s the last excitement of Christmas and we cherish it dearly. One year we had to wait a week to open our stockings but we were so excited when we did. – Lisa and Terry Rodman

6. Happy Birthday Baby Jesus: My favorite Christmas tradition is when my girls were growing up. 12 days before Christmas, I would set up the Nativity. Each family member would select a group of the Nativity i.e., Mary and Joseph, wise men, shepherds, etc. and take them to their rooms. Baby Jesus would stay wrapped in a small gold box with a red bow. Each evening after dinner, we would all move our group a little bit closer to the Nativity, until finally on Christmas eve, we all arrived and unwrapped Baby Jesus. I would bake a small birthday cake and we would all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus! – Lucy Jones

7. Gathering around the table: We would gather as many of the family together…We went around the table and each person shared what they were grateful for this holiday season. After dinner at our house, the triplet grandsons led our Ann to the pool and they all dove in! – Ann and David Kulchin

8. Here comes Santa Clause: Growing up in North Dakota, Christmas Eve meant having friends and family over for this special evening. Around 7 p.m., one of my uncles would sneak around the side of the house and start ringing sleigh bells at the front door where “What to our wondrous eyes should appear” was Santa Clause,” shaking off the snow and bringing lots of excitement and presents. Once I figured it all out, being the “oldest” was great – feeling so smart and in the know. My siblings say I’ve never gotten over it. They’re just jealous. – Gloria Foote

9. Christmas Tree: Growing up in Michigan, we went as a family to cut down our Christmas tree with other family members and cousins. To this day, the tree hunting is an adventure for the imperfect tree to dress up and make it my own kind of perfect. The tree is my favorite celebration of Christmas and brings home the joy of the season and memories of Christmases past. – Catherine Miller

10. Ornaments: What started as one ornament from a family trip has turned into a tradition of always choosing an ornament to represent that vacation. Now, when we decorate our tree and see each ornament, we can remember all those wonderful family memories of traveling around the world. We also let the kids choose one ornament each year to remember that year. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without making and decorating a gingerbread house with Christmas music playing in the background.

11. Giving Back: It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season. No matter the religion, this is the season for being with family and giving back. We always take a moment to step back and be grateful for everything we have, and gather food for a local food bank, and toys to take them to a children’s hospital.

12. Homemade Handprints: We started a new tradition with my kids of putting their handprints on the tree skirt so every year we can see how much they have grown. We also make handprint ornaments to give to the grandparents.