Junior shares her many Christmas traditions

I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two. Having spent Christmas with at least seven different families throughout my life makes me pretty much an expert on traditions. I’ve done everything from making cookies for Santa to making homemade eggnog for Santa. Many of the traditions I’ve practiced are common, but some are pretty weird. These are just a few of the ones I’ve experienced. Feel free to use them.

  1. Opening a gift on Christmas Eve

I have made this happen every year. Whether the family I was with did it or not, I made sure I opened at least one gift on Christmas Eve night. When I lived with my birth mom, she picked what gift my brother, sister and I would open. Usually it was like matching pajamas or teddy bears or something that was small. This has been something I’ve done since I could remember.  

  1. Advent Calendars

An advent calendar is a German calendar that counts the days to Christmas. My grandparents always got each member of my family one, which makes sense because my grandpa is German. They always got the calendars with chocolate in them. Each day we could eat a piece of chocolate in anticipation for Christmas. Even though my sister, brother and I had to move homes multiple times, we always kept in touch with our grandparents who made sure to send us one every year.

  1. Gingerbread Houses

I actually didn’t start this tradition until last year. I live with my aunt, and she told us that making a gingerbread house for Santa rather than making normal cookies was their thing. Santa always eats most of the house but makes sure to leave crumbs for evidence.

  1.  The youngest child puts the star on the tree

Throughout all the families I’ve been with, I’ve only put the star on the tree once. My very first Christmas. After that, my sister was born, and through every family I’ve spent Christmas with, I haven’t put a star on a tree. It’s either the youngest or the first to ask who gets that opportunity, and I was neither. This tradition is my least favorite because I don’t get to participate, but I do get to watch a cute child put it on, which is a plus.

  1. Onesies

In my house, if you didn’t wear a onesie while opening gifts, you could be shunned. This is another tradition brought on by my grandparents who would send all of our gifts wrapped except the onesies. We took this as a sign that we had to wear them. In the group homes or the foster homes, not everyone practiced this tradition, but no matter how far apart my siblings were from me, we would always wear a onesie on Christmas. I am 16 and still do this.

  1. Stockings first

On Christmas morning, we would always look in our stockings before opening the gifts under the tree. My birth parents would sometimes put clues of what our other gifts were in our stockings. For example, they would put batteries in if we were getting something that required them. We also always got chocolate coins and chocolate coal. My mom put new toothbrushes, socks and if we got lucky, jewelry in our stockings.

  1. Trash bag

In addition to all that awesome stuff in our stockings, we also get a trash bag. This is probably the real reason we open stockings first. On Christmas morning, it can get hectic. My mom hated cleaning up our wrapping paper, and sometimes we would even lose small presents in the pile. She solved this by giving us a trash bag to put all of our wrapping paper, zip ties, packaging and any other trash in.

  1. Homemade Eggnog for Santa

When I lived in a foster home, my foster family decided cookies were too mainstream, so she wanted us to make homemade eggnog. It turned out amazing, and I can tell you Santa wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it on Christmas Eve. If you’re interested in making homemade eggnog, this was the recipe we used:


  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • 8 cups of whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream


  • In a heavy saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar and salt. Gradually add 4 cups milk; cook and stir over low heat until a thermometer reads 160°-170°, about 30-35 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Immediately transfer to a large bowl.
  • Stir in vanilla, nutmeg and remaining milk. Place bowl in an ice-water bath, stirring until milk mixture is cool. (If mixture separates, process in a blender until smooth.) Refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least three hours.
  • To serve, beat cream until soft peaks form. Whisk gently into cooled milk mixture. If desired, sprinkle with additional nutmeg before serving.

Having Christmas traditions is important and beneficial for family bonding and stability. I know moving around so much in my life created craziness and instability, but being able to practice most of these traditions were the small piece of stability I still got to have. Being able to pass these on to my children and them on to theirs and so forth is a goal of mine. Merry Christmas!