December Celebrations Across America

This month, on A Cookie Before Dinner, we’re featuring four guests who all have a different take on navigating the holidays. Some families celebrate Christmas without Santa. Some families blend holiday traditions. Some families celebrate Hanukkah, while others have interfaith families that celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. However we celebrate, one thing is for sure– we celebrate love and joy with our families and friends.

Making Christmas Work for Us

You would think that for two people coming from the same religious backgrounds that the holidays would be easy, but you would be as wrong as I was.

Mine or His

My family sings all Christmas Carols, his family doesn’t really sing and has nothing to do with anything that has to do with the birth of Christ.

My family’s dinner: casual, everyone sitting where ever they could find a seat. His family very formal. Everyone is supposed to dress in their best, everyone must sit at the table. The best china is brought out and then the women spend most of the afternoon hand-washing  all the dishes while the men sleep .

Both families had a fake tree. My parents’ tree was chaotic, while his family tree was decorated with some family ornaments, but always had a color theme. It seemed delicate.

We went out to see Christmas lights, singing Christmas songs along the way. His parents saw it as a waste of time.

We spent Christmas Eve with my mom’s family, but Christmas day was at home. His family would visit his mom’s parents for a week or more, dragging all the presents with them and then back home.

And holiday food? My family always had a variety of desserts and foods on the table. Everyone brings something to share, especially if it was something they loved. His family had set foods that weren’t allowed to change, including the desserts. Also, the food was ONLY prepared by his mom and grandma.

The biggest shocker was opening presents. My family was a free-for-all. If you had a present, you could open it. There was paper everywhere. It was fun. Presents for his family is youngest to the oldest, opening only one at a time. 

The Compromise

Some big compromises had to be made during some hard heart-to-heart talks. He has accepted that we WILL go see Christmas lights and puts up with my constant Christmas music of all kinds.

I don’t put a tree skirt under the tree so he can have clear space for his train.

We have some food from both sides of the family, and some of the cookies my family makes have become some of his favorites. We sit together at the table as a family, but no one is dressed formally. The kids sit with the adults.

Presents are opened more slowly. Letting the child enjoy their toy before moving on. Sometimes they all open a toy at the same time when we plan something that they will share. BUT the present is about the receiver instead of the giver like with his family.

We have a real tree and have since the beginning of our marriage. It is filled with ornaments that have memories, and if it is big it is filled in with different glass balls.

Christmas for us is about giving. We love filling the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. We’ve taken angels from the tree and purchased gifts for them.

He has accepted that I’m going to decorate, including lights outside. I don’t go “over the top” according to his standard, but I still decorate. Also, he has accepted that Christmas isn’t just red, green and gold, but can also be blue, white and silver.

When it comes down to it, Christmas is more than just a compromise. It’s about creating our own traditions, like leaving cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for Rudolph. These are the things that we remember and love. It is with these things that Christmas is enjoyable.

Samantha Hatcher | Inspired By Lucille

I’m Samantha, a homeschooling Mama to 6 amazing children and 3 in heaven. I’ve been married to my best friend for 21 years. I’m a daughter of the King, who has graced and blessed me with this amazing life. I’ve spent the past 20 years learning to not only live on one income but learn to get the best bang for my buck. My passions are my God, my family, and living my life to the fullest of joy and love, enjoying every moment, even the ones that drive me crazy and give me gray hairs. 

Visit me at

featured image credit: depositphotos/© racorn

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