Family Time: Teachers Reminisce about Their Holiday Traditions


Celebrating another merry holiday, Assistant Principal Shannon Williams recounts about a beloved Christmas tradition she shares with her family regarding the presents under the Christmas tree. They open up all their gifts to one another on Christmas Eve. Then, on the 25th, they open up the gifts brought by Santa.

Nicole Seemann, Editor In Chief

It’s finally here! The month every kid excitingly anticipates: December. But why, you may ask. Because of Christmas, obviously! Every kid loves getting gifts for no reason, it’s our favorite pastime. Yet there is more to Christmas the just gift giving—or as I like to call it—gift receiving. After all, there are tons of little Christmas family traditions we all have. And we students, who always love butting into our teachers personal lives, decided we’d start an investigation into some of their jolly traditions. 

  • Amy Sullins: Each family member picks their wrapping paper, so we know whose gift is whose. We also say something we are thankful for at the dinner table.
  • Rachel Bishop: Growing up as a kid, I always knew it was Christmas time because my nana would make her special tamales.
  • Meghan Ulmer: Our family has two: baking Christmas cookies and cutting down our own tree! 
  • Shannon Williams: My family opens all our gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa brings the gifts for Christmas day. I think this is a Midwest thing! 
  • Kimberly Schreiber: We love getting together to do our annual Holiday Baking Extravaganza. We also love “Christmas Light Seeing”, where we drive around town listening to Christmas tunes, drinking hot cocoa and looking at Christmas lights.
  • Shannon Murray: It’s not a tradition necessarily—but my husband and I are both terrible gift givers. The third Christmas we spent together we went to Miami and agreed that would be our gift to each other. Later, I heard he bought me a gift, and I was so upset that he bought something when I hadn’t. So in an effort to still get him something but be a bit snarky, I went and bought him socks and underwear. Well, he did get me a gift…it was my engagement ring. So you can imagine the scene that unfolded when he gave me my gift (proposing) and then opened mine (Batman socks and underwear).
  • Monica Dunbar: Apple Marshmallow Salad!
  • Francine Galea: Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner, an Italian tradition. 
  • Tania Gray: My mother-in-law always purchased a birthday cake for Jesus and made us sing happy birthday to him. We also each were given roles and acted out the Nativity scene. 
  • Kenya Ladislas: My husband and I started buying random gift cards for all of our friends and family for Christmas because we both HATE shopping. To make the giving more fun, we have people play games to earn their present. Some of our family’s most beloved Christmas memories involve the wacky games we design. We also have a Christmas egg hunt to keep everyone busy while waiting for everybody to arrive on Christmas morning. I have GREAT home videos!
  • Neddie Robertson: We celebrate Christmas Eve with my relatives and spend Christmas day with just each other: me, my husband and children.
  • Stefani Chase: Baking yummy snacks for the people around me.
  • Kendra Baltins: Who doesn’t stuff their bellies full of Turkey Dinner! But, my favorite part about the holiday season is getting quality time with my family! That and Christmas movies. 
  • Katie Rabideau: On Christmas Eve my mom will call a family dinner, but she doesn’t want to spend two days cooking for a big feast, so it’s always takeout. After dinner, we all open one present and it is usually some sort of silly gag gift. One year I got a toothbrush.
  • Nancy Schweigert: Spending time with the grandkids: opening gifts with them on Christmas Eve/morning, seeing their faces light up and getting tons of love and kisses from them.
  • Erika Washington: Baking cookies with the family. 
  • Kristen Raczuk: We play games together on Christmas, like Pictionary.
  • Blair Sevastakis: We open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas day.
  • Kari Thompson: Our family has Christmas breakfast at Grandma’s house, and church on Christmas Eve.
  • Valari Rose-Johnson: During childhood, it was opening a present on Christmas Eve while drinking hot cocoa and eating cookies. During teenage/adult years, it’s going to a movie on Christmas Eve day. Also on Christmas day we take turns when opening gifts. This lets the gift giver see you open the gift from them. 
  • Marie Hendry: We eat Tamales on Christmas morning.

Wait, don’t leave yet. There’s more. We have some teachers who decided to go incognito. So here are a few more traditions from our beloved teachers without names. Just think of it as a fun game of matching the tradition to the teacher. 

  • We have a Danish tradition we like to do. You make bowls of red Danish pudding and put an almond in the bottom of one of the bowls. Everyone eats the pudding at the same time. The person that has the almond must keep it in their mouth without letting others know until everyone is done eating. The person with the almond gets a small Christmas gift.
  • For us, it’s baking our traditional goodies together and sometimes teaching others how to bake. 
  • We spend Christmas Day at my grandma and grandpa’s house.
  • We light luminaries each year on Christmas Eve, and have a smorgasbord (Swedish/Norwegian heritage).
  • We make Chinese food for Christmas dinner.  
  • Every Christmas we get to open one present on Christmas Eve. It is always a new set of pajamas that we can wear on Christmas morning.
  • We always read the Christmas story from the Bible before we open any presents. We also pick a different food theme each year, we’ve had everything from Mexican to Italian to Southern.
  • Our family watches “It’s a Wonderful Life” with a blanket and hot coco.
  • We spend the night before Christmas with family and friends and stay up until midnight to open up gifts!
  • Each year, we open up our Christmas Eve gift, which consists of Christmas pajamas and a book.
  • Regardless of age, our children’s stockings are filled with goodies every Christmas morning from Santa.
  • We read Christmas stories as a family every night leading up to Christmas. 
  • Our family Christmas tradition is to bake three legs of lamb for the Christmas Eve dinner. Then on Christmas morning, we make delicious lamb tacos with the leftovers from the night before! 

Wow that’s a lot of Christmas traditions. Though no one seems to have the same tradition as my deranged family. We celebrate Christmas on the 28th…just don’t ask. What about you guys? Leave some of your Christmas traditions in the comments below!