Each year, so many of us scramble to put together the only kind of Christmas we believe our families will accept. Before we know it, our wallets are empty, our stress levels have skyrocketed, and somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that it isn’t the trimmings and the trappings that makes Christmas Day so special.
It’s true! We have proof! From kids who have up and left the nest, hear what these university students have to say about their favorite Christmas memories at home. I think you'll find that your children's idea of what makes Christmas memorable may be very different from yours.
“My favorite Christmas happened over the course of a year. We got a jar together—we called it the Christmas Jar. We put all of our coins and any spare change we had in this jar throughout the whole entire year. And then once Christmas season came around, we put it all on Coinstar and we ended up with . . . I think it was $117. We found someone in our church that was in need, and we got them a couple of presents that they could only open up at Christmas time: a ham, and a bunch of other treats they could have at Christmas. Then we dropped it off at their doorstep, rang the doorbell, and then we just ran away. It was just so much fun: the adrenaline rush of the most intense doorbell-ditch of my life, along with the good fuzzy feelings you get after doing something good.” ~ Jared, 22
“My favorite Christmas was probably when me and my two older sisters got back from our missions . . . the Christmas when we were all back together again.” ~ Greg, 22
“My favorite Christmas changes every year, because every Christmas is my new favorite Christmas. It’s really just because of family. I know this Christmas I get to spend it with a new family, and I’m really excited about that.” ~ Kayla, 20
“My favorite Christmas ever was when I was six-years-old. All my family was still young and all together, and I didn’t have any money to buy anyone gifts, so I just went around the house and wrapped up things for my siblings. That was fun, because I actually felt like I was giving them something.” ~ Jacqueline, 20
“My favorite Christmas was when my entire extended family (on my dad’s side) got together at my grandparents’ ranch. We were all there for Christmas and New Years, and we just spent time together as a family. I remember singing, opening presents with my cousins, snowmobiling—just huge family stuff.” ~ Quinn, 21
“My favorite Christmases were when my family would go to our grandmother’s house, and we’d just have a huge family reunion.” ~ Lisa, 22
“I would say the most important Christmases, to me, that are the best, are just opportunities when my family has been able to get together.” ~ Bradley, 25
“We always sleep by the Christmas tree, and one year the Christmas tree fell on us! It was scary, but it’s always a joke now, for some reason I’ve always remembered it. It doesn’t have to be perfect—just fun!” ~ Berkely, 22
“They’re just all too good.” ~ Tanner, 21
“Probably Cape Cod, Massachusetts at our beach house. Really fun, really simple Christmas. Not that many presents, just being together as a family, and snow, and the beach—yeah! Super fun!” ~ Brad, 18
“We have a tradition every year where we count how many of those fake reindeer are in people’s yards. So we all get in the car, and we count how many reindeer, and we always guess beforehand [how many there will be]. Whoever’s closest wins! Usually, as a family, we’re not always in the same car together. It’s just a quirky thing that we do every year.” ~ Ashley Jane, 19
“My favorite Christmas memory is that every year we have a book of stories, and we read one every day from the 1st to the 25th of December. A lot of stories we have memorized because we’ve heard them so many times. It’s a great time to get together as a family.” ~ Travis, 22
“Every year on Christmas Eve, we get together with our family and our good friends, and we have a nice little finger-f00d party, and then we watch The Christmas Story, which is a fantastic Christmas movie—the best. Elf is not better than that one.” ~ Chris, 22
“Every Christmas Eve, my family gets together. We have dinner, and we read these three stories that we’ve read every year my entire life (so I kind of have them memorized by now). One is called The Shining Star, which is a different take on Jesus’ birth, which is cool. Then we read Luke 2, and then there’s a take on Dickens’ story that’s the mouse version of A Christmas Carol instead of the normal Mr. Scrooge. It’s really cute!” ~ Chally, 20
“My grandma—every year she likes to tell a story about the meaning of Christmas. We’re all family, sitting together, and she explains it to us, puts it in a story, shares her thoughts, and bears her testimony.” ~ Ariel, 19
“Every Christmas, as soon as we set up the Christmas tree, the kids will put their shoes under the Christmas tree. Then, when we wake up in the morning, the elves put candy in them! That was a fun Christmas memory. Even when we forgot our shoes, we’d usually get candy anyway. It was fun.” ~ Ryan, 22
From our family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas!