With every holiday that is practiced comes traditions new and old.
The Log Cabin Democrat sat down with one Greenbrier family to hear about how they do Christmas year after year.
“One of the things I know we always did is my mom always made Christmas treats,” Sarah Allen said.
She said her mom would make cookies, fudge and other family-favorite appetizer foods, gather in the living room Christmas Eve and pop in a Christmas movie.
“We’d all watch it and it was just our big to-do,” Allen said.
While she’s clung to several traditions her family had growing up, now that she has a daughter of her own, 4-year-old Bailey, she’s added a few others through the years including the big snow ball fight they do with cotton balls.
Another tradition she has included is the reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” at bedtime.
“My mom did this with me, we always read that book and we’d always check, even since I was a kid, the news stations do the little radar for Santa,” Allen said. “So, we always, when I was a kid we checked it, and I check it with [Bailey] and we look for Santa and see where he’s at.”
Allen said she starts the day before making treats and on Christmas Eve, they make cookies and decorate them for Santa and when it’s time to lay them out, has a special plate for the treats and special glass to the milk in.
Another thing they’ve had to add is a special key.
“Bailey wanted to know why we didn’t have a chimney last year, so we added a new tradition of the key so we hang that key up outside and it’s magic and so Santa can use that key to get into the door and come right in,” Allen said.
One of the most important aspects of the holiday isn’t the presents, she said, but making the whole experience special for everyone.
“It shouldn’t be another day,” Allen said. “This is the way Christmas is to me is … just the most magical time of the year.”
Allen’s mother, Debra Rial, said that is a feeling she wanted to instill in her kids the way her mother did for her.
“It’s strange because what mattered to me then I think probably still matters to me is family,” she said. “I just remember as a kid it was the simple things that mattered to me more.”
Rial said every Christmas Eve, she remembers her mother in the kitchen, preparing those snacks, which would then be laid out on a picnic cloth in the living room and they’d watch a movie, an experience she passed down to Sarah when she was a child, who knows does that with Bailey.
“[It was] a family night full of excitement waiting for Santa to come,” she said.
When Rial got older, she said she realized that her family actually didn’t have that much money when she was little but would never have known that because her mom made the holiday such a special, fun occasion whether it be with grand home-made items, family treats or a freshly cut down Christmas tree decorated in colorful lights.
“It was just I think that was what it was … family,” she said. “It was all about that good food and playing with my cousins.”
Rial said she tried to mirror that with her kids.
“I try to mimic what I was raised with of course,” she said.”Being around family and all of those things. I want them to know, when we’re here, this is what it’s all about is just us.”
Rial said it’s important for families to have traditions they follow year after year. She said while Bailey may not realize what Allen is doing for her — just the way Allen didn’t realize what Rial was doing for her — one day she will.
“Those traditions mean roots,” Rial said. “They mean family.”
That feeling of love, inclusion and special inclusion is something Allen said she tries to do for Bailey now … make everything feel special the way Rial did for her.
“It’s definitely the birth of Jesus, and we try to teach Bailey that, but to me it’s more than just even that,” Allen said. “It’s another time to be thankful, another time to be grateful for your family.”
Allen said one thing that struck her last year as Bailey, her and her husband were sitting around eating the snacks she had prepared and watching the Christmas movie they picked out, was that “this is my family,” feeling.
“Even though I wish my mom could be here and my sister could be here and everything, I feel like they’re here because I’m doing what I know [my mom] is home doing and my sister’s at home doing and we’re all doing the same thing.”
Allen said she hopes in the future family will be important to Bailey and she’ll carry some of those same traditions on that make the holiday so special.
“I hope she tells me one day [her family is] doing the same thing, eating food and watching Christmas movies,” she said.