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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Are you ready for the big day? Other than a couple of gift cards that still need to be purchased, I've finished shopping for presents. Thanks to my 15-year-old, everything is wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree. I've still got grocery shopping to do, but that's about it. Phew! I'm tired from watching my 2-month-old granddaughter overnight on Sunday so her mom could get a good night's rest before having open heart surgery on Monday and I've got a sore throat and cough that are driving me crazy. The baby's got a cold, too (I'm pretty sure it was her daddy that infected both of us!), but we're tough. We'll all get through this. (My daughter-in-law's surgery went better than expected. She should be released from the hospital before Christmas. Yay!) At any rate, I'm looking forward to a fun week filled with family, friends, good food, and holiday traditions. 
As joyous as the holidays can be, they can also be indescribably tough. I have a particular heartbreak in my life that's making me feel sorrowful and a little Grinch-y, so to those who are having a hard time feeling comfort and joy right now, I see you. I'm a person of faith, even in the hard times (maybe especially then). I have felt the power of God's healing embrace throughout my life as well as the hope that Jesus Christ brought into the world with his miraculous birth and atonement. Whether you're happily making merry or suffering through a season made difficult by struggle or sorrow (or both), I pray that you can feel the peace of Their love this Christmas.

I decided to push this week's TTT prompt—Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes—off until next week when the topic is Top Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf. Instead, I'm going to get more personal today and talk about my favorite Christmas traditions. These are the activities I participate in, the decorations I put up, the foods I eat, the songs I listen to, etc. every year in order to saturate my heart and soul with the enchanting spirit of Christmas.

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Hop on over there and give her some love, won't you? 

Top Ten Favorite Christmas Traditions


My birthday is a few days before Christmas. One year, when I was probably 8 or 9, my mom decided to take me to a professional performance of The Nutcracker ballet as a birthday present. Afterward, she presented me with my first nutcracker. I've always been charmed by the whimsical figurines and have continued to collect them. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, I like to line them up on the windowsills throughout my home at Christmastime. 


I mean, He is the reason for the season! I've collected nativities for some time now, but recently my son started a new Jesus collection for me. Three Christmases ago, he was stumped on what to get me for a present. He literally Googled "What do middle-aged white women want for Christmas?" The bendable, poseable Jesus figurine in the photo above was the result. It was such an unexpected gift from my teenaged son that I couldn't stop laughing. He was delighted by my reaction, so the next year he got me a Jesus bobblehead. Last year, it was the life-sized stuffie in the photo at left (which has been a great conversation piece, by the way, as well as a total hug magnet). I'm not sure how he's going to top that this year! I'll keep you posted.

Every year, we make hundreds of homemade raised doughnuts to give away to neighbors, friends, and even strangers. This tradition comes from my husband's side of the family and it's one that I both love and hate. The love is because it's a tradition that has been going on for decades, ever since my mother-in-law was a child. It's meaningful to the hubs, who has lots of great memories of making doughnuts with his family. Also, homemade doughnuts are delicious! They're also a lot of work, which is where the hate part comes in. Everyone pitches in to make them, but guess who always does the lion's share of the prep work and clean up? Yep. Me. And let me tell you, scraping dough and hardened glaze off every surface in my kitchen is not exactly a good time. Still, people look forward to receiving our doughnuts all year, so I *guess* it's worth it.


Since my husband's family already had the fryers out to make doughnuts, they created a tradition of making chimichangas for Christmas Eve dinner. We continue this yummy tradition with members of his extended family (who do most of the work, to be honest) as part of our night-before-Christmas festivities In addition to eating chimis, we have a musical puppet nativity, play games, and surprise our hostess (my husband's great aunt) by hiding gifts under her tree and hanging silly ornaments on its branches for her to find on Christmas morning.


We don't go crazy with our outside lights, but some people in our neighborhood and wider area do. It's always fun to walk or drive around and enjoy the different displays. One of the biggest and most popular places to check out lights in our area is at the Mesa Temple. The grounds are always beautifully lit up for the holiday.


I love listening to Christmas songs (although I only allow them to be played in my home and car after Thanksgiving and before New Year's Day). Whimsical or sacred, silly or solemn, they fill me with joy. I've been contemplating my favorites. Here's my Top 5:

1. O Holy Night
2. What Child Is This?
3. O Come All Ye Faithful
4. Go Tell It On the Mountain
5. Mary, Did You Know?

What are your favorite Christmas/holiday songs?


I've mentioned this tradition before, but every December, I re-read (or listen to) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It's such a rich story that I get something new from it every time I experience it. We also read Luke 2 and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore every Christmas Eve as a family.


I blame my mother-in-law for this one. She bought me my first piece from Department 56's quaint Snow Village collection for my birthday one year and has gifted me many more over the years. I saw a display of the company's Harry Potter village last week; I may just have to start collecting those as well!


My mom has always been faithful about sending Christmas cards accompanied by a newsy family letter to friends and family every year. I have kept this tradition alive since I enjoy giving and receiving Christmas cards so much. I've skipped a few years here and there (including this one), but it's still a tradition I adore. 

I have to admit, though, that this episode of Everybody Loves Raymond has made me rethink the annual Christmas letter a bit, LOL:


Whenever people learn that my birthday occurs just before Christmas, they inevitably say, "Don't you
hate that?" I don't. As a matter of fact, I love it. I was born on my dad's birthday, which makes it special. I've loved celebrating it with him over the years, even if we can't physically get together much because we live in different states. I'm not into birthday parties or big celebrations, so I enjoy marking my birthday in simple ways—a dinner out, a new book, going to see a performance (this year it was GENTRI's Christmas concert), etc. 

There you go, ten Christmas traditions I love to keep. What are some of the traditions that make your holiday festivities special? How do you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc? What books are you hoping to find under your tree on Monday? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on yours. I also reply to your comments here, although I am a week behind at the moment.

Happy TTT! 


  1. Loved the twist on the topic, and hearing about your traditions!

    1. Thanks for indulging me ;) It was fun to do something a little different for TTT this week.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Louise!

  2. I’m glad your daughter-in-law’s surgery went well! It sounds like your family has really pulled together to help out. That’s wonderful. :)

    Your bendable, posable Jesus is awesome. I didn’t know such things existed.

    And I reread A Christmas Carol every year, too. Speaking of which, I really should start it.

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday post.


    1. If all goes well, my DIL should be discharged from the hospital today. She's still in a lot of pain, but she's doing okay. I'm glad that she and my son have family close so that we can all help out. They're going to need a lot more of it as she recovers.

      Apparently, the Jesus figurine is something people carry around in their purses as a good luck charm or something. Mine just sits on my desk.

      My husband and I listened to A Christmas Carol this year during a road trip. It was narrated by Tim Curry and was really fantastic.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  3. December is tough for our family, too. I think that's why God gives me so much joy around this time of year so that I don't focus on the loss. Love your traditions list. Merry Christmas!

    1. Definitely! I love all those tender mercies that God gives us to remind us of His love. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cheryl!

  4. I love that your Jesus collection has become a tradition! I can't wait to find out what your son does to top it this year. I have never read A Christmas Carol. I keep meaning to, maybe I should make an effort to do it this year. I'm sure I'm missing out!

    1. Right? It will be tough to top the life-sized stuffed Jesus!

      A CHRISTMAS CAROL is great. It's the only Dickens book I've read since it's nice and short. LOL. I just love all of its wisdom. I really do find new insights every time I read or listen to it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Haze!

  5. Making doughnuts is a great tradition! I'm glad your daughter-in-law's surgery went well. And I hope the Savior's love and atoning grace fills you with strength and comfort, hope and help this Christmas season. Sorry you're having a hard time right now. Sending love and prayers your way!!!

    1. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement and faith, Lark! I'm not a fan of trials, but I know that they help me to grow as a person and in my faith. I've definitely felt His arms around me in my struggles :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting!

  6. Oh, I love this post so much!!! I am still snickering over your son's googling and coming up with Jesus!!! It sounds like something my son would do! I also do Christmas cards every year, I love it. Like you, I am feeling Grinch-y this year. So much stress and so much going on, but I have loved buying and wrapping the gifts, and i will enjoy spending Christmas with my loved ones. Merry Christmas, Susan!

    1. I've never laughed so hard on Christmas as I did the first year he gave me a Jesus gift. It was just so unexpected! It's become a really fun tradition. Some people think it's sacrilegious, but I love it and I'm glad that my son knows how important Christ is in my life.

      I really do love sending Christmas cards, but it's a lot of work and I don't always feel up to it. I always love receiving them, though. It just feels me with holiday joy :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  7. I love your list! I hope all your family members and yourself get well soon. It sounds like you have had a tough time. My son is 5 months old and the nights are still rough. My first son (who is now 5 years old) had better nights sleep at this age so this is new for me!).

    That huge Jesus is fun! How lovely to start a collection like that. I also love a nutcracker. There is something magical about them.

    Have a great week!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog

    1. I think we're all on the mend, although my daughter, my granddaughter, and I all still have coughs we're trying to shake. It seems like everyone's sick right now. 'Tis the season!

      Kudos to you and all the other mamas on night duty. It is not easy! I'm only surviving because I'm alternating nights with the grandbaby with her other grandma so we can both get some rest. I don't know how I managed when I did all the nights by myself with my own kids. It's tough. I hope your son lets you get some sleep soon.

      Nutcrackers are just fun and definitely magical. I adore them.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Emily!

  8. Making donuts to hand out is SUCH a cute tradition!! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas

    1. My community is big on exchanging treats at Christmastime. It's always fun to hand out holiday cheer and homemade doughnuts are unique so they stand out!

      Thanks for popping in, McKenzie!

  9. I’m limping toward the end of the year as well. My eyesight is still blurry after my detached retina surgery so that’s depressing. My doc is optimistic so I’m hoping my vision will eventually recover. I’m impatient and worried. I’m happy to hear your DIL’s surgery was successful and hope that she’ll experience a fast and uncomplicated recovery. I’m comforted in these stressful times and personal heartaches by Emmanuel…God With Us. Merry Christmas! ⛄️🎄📚 ~Carol @ ReadingLadies

    1. Retina surgery sounds horrible! I'm so sorry. I hope your eyesight recovers. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and send up some prayers for a successful outcome. Like I commented above, I'm not a person who welcomes trials, in spite of the growth they bring, but they definitely strengthen my faith as I always feel God and His Son walking with me in my struggles. I'm glad you do too :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carol!

  10. I'm glad your daughter-in-law's surgery went well. I had open heart too so I feel for her. :) And happy birthday!

    I love the villages! I collected North Pole by D56 for years. We still enjoy setting them out.

    Have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. Did you? I'm so sorry! It sounds perfectly awful. My DIL is still in the hospital dealing with some minor complications. We're hoping she'll get discharged today (just like we were hoping she would get discharged yesterday).

      The North Pole set is cute too. I'm tempted to collect every village set I see, but I only have so many surfaces in my house for displaying them so I have to hold back a little. Ha ha.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Greg!

  11. I'm sorry to hear that you're under the weather, but glad to hear that your daughter-in-law's surgery went well. I really enjoyed your different take on this week's post, and learning more about how you and your family celebrate Christmas. It's especially interesting to me, since I don't celebrate Christmas, and have always found it fascinating to see how other people celebrate. It sounds like a lot of work, but also a lot of great memories that you're making.

    We celebrate Chanukah, which has gotten much more laid back as the younger members of the family have become adults. We always have potato latkes with applesauce and jelly donuts, since eating foods fried in oil symbolizes the miracle of the oil which was supposed to last one night miraculously lasting eight nights. We also play dreidel, tell the story of Chanukah to the younger family members, and of course, light the menorah and sing. Kind of cool that we both have donuts, even if you go about it the hard way and we get ours from a bakery 😂

  12. I love your take on the topic this week! Such nice traditions! And as one Christmas birthday girl to another (mine is just after the holiday), happy birthday!

  13. I love hearing about your traditions! Wishing you wonderful holidays and plenty of new memories! :)

  14. Oh, the Jesuses! Oh my.

    And I'd love to be the recipient of some of those doughnuts. Wow.

  15. I'm glad your DIL's surgery went well. From an overtired mama, taking the baby for the night before was HUGE! I'm sure she really, really appreciated it!! My 4 year old is becoming obsessed with nutcrackers! :) I hope you have the Merriest Christmas, Susan!!

  16. I'm glad the surgery went well for your DIL, but sorry you are all sick now. I hope you feel better before Christmas.

  17. I'm glad your daughter-in-law's surgery went well. I really enjoyed reading about all your traditions. Thank you for sharing! Merry Christmas! :D

  18. I love nutcrackers, too! Though I haven't been to see the ballet in way too many years. Maybe next year... Merry Christmas and happy birthday!

  19. First of all, I am glad to hear your daughter in law is doing well. Whew! Your Jesuses are fabulous. That is an original collection right there. Your husbands family has some neat traditions with the donuts and Chimichangas. We do the German foods my grandmother always prepared for the holiday, and we used to do the oplatek when I was growing up. I look back and think how lovely it was.

  20. What a great twist for this week, Susan. My two favourite Christmas songs are Mary Did You Know and Go Tell it on the Mountain, so you and I have very similar tastes. Happy Birthday to you! I'm happy to hear that your DIL is doing well and should be home for Christmas. How scary to have open heart surgery anytime, but close to the holidays adds extra stress. Merry Christmas to you and your family, dear Susan.

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  22. I'm glad the surgery went well. That's scary. I love your Jesus collection and the story behind it. I hope you have a good Christmas and birthday.

  23. The life-sized Jesus! This is the most perfect Christmas decoration.

  24. Ah, lovely list! My family have a bunch of idiosyncratic traditions... I'm looking forward to being the one to excitedly wake everyone else up as usual. 😅

  25. My son's birthday is right after Christmas but he's never minded. We do try and do something a little extra special. Your son gives the best gifts! Definitely funny and unique! I love nutcrackers, Christmas lights, and carols. Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, and The Holly and the Ivy are probably my favorite. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy birthday!

  26. sorry if you just got like 6 of the same comment in a keeps telling me "failed to published comment, please try again later"! No matter what kind of sign-in I use.

  27. Fun list. It's always nice to have some cool things to do this time of year! I tried making some type of doughnut years ago (because if I do have something, I like to try and make it), and they didn't turn out the best. Makes me think I should try again. But I do know so much of this is a lot of work, so I know what you mean about hating that part. Hope you enjoyed most of your traditions this year!


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