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Old-Fashioned Christmas Traditions: A Present For Jesus and Reading the Christmas Story

Wise Men Bringing their Presents for Jesus

One way that my Mom tried to teach us about Jesus was by doing "the present for Jesus."

Present for Jesus

Growing up, our family had several traditions that fully ensured that Christmas was unlike any other time of the year. My Mom was in love with Jesus, and she loved to teach about her faith, not through preaching, but through showing us. One of the ways she did this was with the "present for Jesus." Other traditions were important to us as a family because it was something that we always did, something we could count on year after year, and those things were very important to us. I guess that's why my sister and I try to keep up many of these traditions as we move on with famiilies of our own.

Christmas Eve was the holy part of the Season: the time when we recognized who the holiday was for: Jesus Christ. It was also a time that we got to spend with each other, without the crowds. It was special, because it was ours, an intimate time that we always looked forward to, and treasured. It was on Christmas Eve that we recognized Jesus, and had time to actually ponder what Christmas was for. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ was important, because he was the one who gave us hope.

One way that my Mom tried to teach us about Jesus was by doing "the present for Jesus." For several years, she asked us to help us decide who our present to Jesus would be to. One year, it was giving a basketful of goodies to a elderly neighbour down the street, and another time, it was giving groceries to some friends who were struggling financially. I still remember the thrill of bringing box after box into their house, and knowing how good it felt to give. It was such a great feeling to know that we were pleasing Jesus by giving to someone else.


Junk Food!

Growing up, my family's income was very modest and one thing we were never allowed to indulge in was junk food. If we got candy, it was invetibly from some doting silver-haired gentleman we were visiting, but not from my parent's coffers. And chips: they were things I got to eat once in a while went to visit friend's houses, but not something I ever saw in our cupboards. Eating chips and drinking pop, therefore, was an event of some portent in our family household. And Christmas Eve was the only time my parents broke their rule, and bought junk food.

A day or two before Christmas, there was the shopping trip for Christmas. This included at two boxes of Old Dutch rippled potato chips, two packages of Chip Dip, two bottles of 2-L pops, a gallon of vanilla ice cream, lots of cheese, pepporoni and sausage, and lots of candy! We, of course, could not touch it, but seeing the food come in meant that Christmas was almost here!


The Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-21)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed ...

read the rest of the story here ....

Last Minute Preparations

As I said, Christmas Eve was special because of the junk food. But eating this junk did not come until we had gone through the other steps in our ritual. This was the sequence of events that made up our special Christmas Eve's. Around 4:00 p.m.,  Dad and my sister and I completed our last-minute Christmas gift wrapping, and my Mom prepared our food for the meal to come.

At approximately 5 p.m., as it was starting to get dark, we gathered around in the living room, and listened to the Christmas Story.

Christmas Story

At approximately 5 p.m., as it was starting to get dark, we gathered around in the living room, and listened to the Christmas Story. Usually, my Dad read, and my Mom listened in complete rapture, head tilted, in love with Jesus, and always amazed at the beautiful story. After the story was read, we were eager to get to the gifts, but knew that it was required that we stop and talk about what we had read. Every year, we talked about what it meant to us, or something new that we had noticed in the story.

By 5:30, we finally got to open our presents, piled under the tree in our living room, as each family member (my Mom, Dad, sister and me) squealed in appreciation for what the other one had thought to give them. After much appreciation and cleaning up the wrapping paper, we were finally ready to eat.


First were the floats. For this non-sugar-eating family, floats were the ultimate in decadence. You could pick: usually sprite or coke, and then you were allowed to keep filling up your glass with pop, and ice cream until your stomach hurt. While we drank down our ice cream delights, we were welcomed to gorge on chips, candy, and cheese and crackers. We snacked, and talked and sometimes played games. This was a night where you could do nothing wrong, and nothing could be wrong. We were celebrating the birthday of Jesus, and it was paradise.

Thanks to Manicosity for use of this image.

Thanks to Manicosity for use of this image.

"I don't know how much he really enjoyed our amateur presentations, but I do know this: we believed that it meant everything to him."

Christmas Day: Dinner and a Play

Christmas Eve was our special family time, and then came Christmas Day. This day was significant because it was the only time we were sure to see all of our cousins, aunts and uncles from across the province. The meeting place was Grandma's and we all arrived sometime between 11 and 1 p.m. Bustle ensued as all of the aunts crowded into the small kitchen and rustled up a feast for all: turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, baked yams, salads, other vegetables, and to top it off: my Grandma's baked pudding.

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This was the one time of year when it was acceptable; expected even, to pig out. And pig out we did! For the first few years, cousins sat at the kid's table, and were sheltered from the adult conversation. As we got older, we all sat together and got to listen as sibling and in-law passed insult and comment in an ongoing battle of wits. Did the family get along? In a sense. Insulting one another, and besting each other always seemed to be part of the tradition. After eating an outlandish amount of food, we all agreed to wait for an hour or two before tackling Grandma's famous Christmas pudding.

While we were waiting, and the women cleaned up, the kids were now preparing for the one last great Christmas tradition: the Christmas Play. I don't know exactly what year it started, when sometime when I around ten years old, my Grandpa asked my sister and I to come up with a play for Christmas. At first, it was just the two of us. I loved making up plays, and this was a chance to shine! My Mom got the call, and I, as the oldest grandchild, was the one who put it together.As we got older, the other cousins sometimes joined in. And my Grandpa always made it seem as if it was the highlight of his day, a present just for him. I don't know how much he really enjoyed our amateur presentations, but I do know this: we believed that it meant everything to him. And this was the final of our Christmas traditions.


"It is somehow worth it all for the kids!"

Present Day

To this day, my sister and I have tried to keep these traditions alive. We are both married, and live two provinces apart from one another, but we still endeavour each year to get together at Christmas. Annually, we read the Christmas story, open presents, and enjoy chips and floats, also a treat for these non-junk food eating girls. And the little girls usually put together some kind of play. And even though we all stress out before Christmas, trying to fit in everyone to the plans, and make it work, it is somehow worth it all for the kids!


This Was a Hub Mob Hub

This hub was written as part of a "hub mob," where people all chose to write about Christmas traditions. I hope you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful and blessed holiday.



Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 05, 2015:

Techygran, I do apologize for not responding to your comment earlier. I have been mostly away from Hubpages for the last year. Thank you for the sweet comment. I am glad the local feeling came through! And yes, as the girls get older, I am so glad we have these traditions to tie us together. Take care, and hope you are doing well!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 02, 2014:

Sharilee, thanks so much for sharing your sweet remembrances of your family and Christmases past! I could just taste the floats and loved the Canadian "feel" (we say 'pop' not 'soda') and the flashback to a simpler time when there were no devices to get in the way of family togetherness. Lovely! All the best in maintaining these worthy family traditions with your little girls! ~Cynthia

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on January 15, 2012:

Teacher, nice to meet you and welcome to Hubpages! I would love to hear that you had started this tradition in your family. It really is a great way to teach kids and even ourselves about Jesus and who he is. I know what you mean about the junk food, ha ha! Thanks for such a lovely comment. You made my day. Take care!

teachertalking1 on January 15, 2012:

Even though Christmas has passed, I am new to HP and really enjoyed reading about your wonderful family traditions. I'm wondering if you would mind if I started the "Present for Jesus" tradition with my family next year? Would also LOVE to follow your indulgence of junk food for just one day each year, unfortunately, I think my family would suffer the horror of withdrawals if I attempted such a thing- ha! ha! Thanks again for sharing your special traditions!

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 03, 2011:

@Molometer, we need sanity, don't we? Thank you so much. Take care and have a wonderful Christmas!

@PM, thank you so much! I am so glad that my mother taught us that, and glad I could honour her by sharing this. Take care and thanks for sharing, too!

Marissa from United States on December 03, 2011:

Love, love, love this hub! It reminds me of how I feel about all my family traditions. I really like the present for Jesus- He is the 'reason for the season' and that is a great way to remind people of that.

Voted up, beautiful and sharing!

Micheal from United Kingdom on December 03, 2011:

At last a sane hub on the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks PP.

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 03, 2011:

MsDora, thank you! And I wish you a Christ-filled Christmas, as well. Take care!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 03, 2011:

I love the "present for Jesus" tradition. Hope you, your sister and you families enjoy a Christ-centered 2011 Christmas.

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on January 23, 2011:

Laurie, your welcome! thank you so much for reading and commenting. Take care!


LaurieDawn on January 21, 2011:

What a wonderful legacy of memories PrairiePrincess! I loved the simplicity and the way that your family shared the values of what it is truly all about. Much like our family did, going to church on Christmas Eve. Thank you for taking me back to wonderful memories.

Blessings and hugs,


Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on January 06, 2011:

SJerZGirl, thank you so much for your kind comment! Take care!

SJerZGirl on January 04, 2011:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I envy the traditions you had at Christmas and am glad you shared them.

SJerZGirl on January 04, 2011:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I envy the traditions you had at Christmas and am glad you shared them.

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 26, 2010:

Ocean, thank you so much for your comment, and for dropping by! Take care!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 24, 2010:

What a great hub and a neat tradition! Giving a present to Jesus by giving to others is an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing.

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 07, 2010:

Ken, thank you so much for the comment .... All the best to you and yours this Christmas. Take care!

Ken R. Abell on December 07, 2010:

Very enjoyable. Thank you for sharing. Rated up & awesome. Blessings & Merry Christmas.

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 28, 2010:

Kashmir, thank you so much ... yes, we are trying to do that ... as I said, the kids are kind of what motivates you to keep it going!

RedElf, that is an interesting point, that we don't know exactly what will resonate with the kids, who see it such a different way than we do. Thanks for the comment!

RedElf from Canada on November 27, 2010:

Lovely story. I am so glad you keep the traditions alive with your young families. We never know what the favorite memories of the season will be, but there will certainly be some cherished part for each child that they will remember long after they are grown.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on November 27, 2010:

So nice to see you are keeping up your family traditions, and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Great hub....thumbs up!!!

Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 27, 2010:

Quill, thank you so much for your kind comment ... I agree that the focus of the LORD has often been lost. He is our reason for celebrating!

sweetmummy, I have subscribed to your blog, and will look forward to reading it in my leisure. I look forward to what you have come up with! Thanks for the comment!

Raylene Wall from Alberta, Canada on November 27, 2010:

We have some VERY different kinds of traditions, focusing around trying to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. It's SO much fun. I've posted about them before on my blog: Many of them are similar to what you've mentioned here. This is a great hub. Thanks for sharing your family traditions!

"Quill" on November 27, 2010:

Loved this hub and the true meaning of Christmas is Christ. You were like us as children there were no extras, if there were they came from others. Ours was a simple celebration of the birth of Christ not what we see today.

I come from the generation where a man would buy his wife something practical like a housecoat and not a Honda. Sad when you think of the way we have become ingrained in this tradition, a season of pure madness, forgetting all about the why.

Great hub and thank you for the reminder...

Blessings and Hugs

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