Christmas with the Van Pelts: “A visit to a live production of Handel’s Messiah is a cherished part of the Van Pelt family’s advent rhythm. The honour of holding and following along, note by note, in the family’s well-loved century-old score usually went to the youngest family member. While the annual productions bring back memories of velvet dresses, patent shoes, and little fingers pointing at tiny notes, today the grandeur of the text and the magnificence of the music continues to offer unparalleled reminder that the story within which we live is one of breathtaking love and hope.” ~Deani Van Pelt
Christmas with the Johnstons: “The Johnston Family enjoys singing Christmas carols and hymns while stringing garlands of dried oranges, popcorn, and cranberries. Each year, we mix the leftover fruit with water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, apple cider, ginger, and a splash of vanilla to make a comforting stovetop potpourri.” ~Amber Johnston
Christmas with the Christenberrys: “Stopping and focusing on our family during a busy season was something we deliberately planned over the holidays. When the Christenberry kids were young and we were living overseas, we often took a “pre-Christmas” trip. It allowed us to explore somewhere new together, gave us time to relax, eat meals, play games…deepen relationships as a family in the midst of crazy schedules. The kids are all grown and have growing children of their own, but they remember these times and are finding ways to develop a similar rhythm for themselves! Consider setting aside a couple of vacation days to enjoy a new place; it doesn’t have to be extravagant or exotic—just a day trip even to create shared experiences and new things to talk over as you spend your evening meal together.” ~Kelli Christenberry
Christmas with the Ectors: “We have a tradition of our whole family (36 of us currently), including all of my children and their families, my sister, brother-in-law and her children and their families, and my mom & step-dad, gathering on Christmas Eve for dinner and a white elephant game. This is the only gift we buy. We love that we can anticipate our gathering with no stress over finding so many gifts and spending a lot of money. People are free to chose anything within whatever price range they like. There are usually a few really popular gifts that get fought over. We don’t allow any whining or getting angry…you come knowing it’s going to be a cut-throat game. This seems contrary to the Christmas spirit, but we have so much fun with it! We don’t allow the young children to play because they wouldn’t be able to handle it. They do their own gift exchange by drawing each other’s names.
On a kinder note, one item we always have included in dinner is Grandpa’s Meatballs. He always has some grandkids come over that morning and help him make the meatballs (recipe pictured above).” ~Lisa Ector
Christmas with the Forneys: “Ever since the youngest Forney was large enough, one of the Forney’s favorite festivities has been a Christmas hike. We live about three hours from the Virginian Appalachians and usually plan a day hike, sometimes on Christmas day and sometimes a few days before or after. It’s a wonderful time together as a family out in creation and has created many fun (and funny) memories (ask us sometime about the time a 7 mile hike accidentally became more than 10). We also almost always eat clam chowder for Christmas Eve dinner.” ~Kerri Forney