Blog, Life

Christmas Traditions

By: Amanda Magnus and Kristen Finstad


Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

We both just love this holiday, and thought it would be fitting to dedicate today’s blog post to our Christmas traditions to help get in the spirit. So, grab a cozy blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy.

Kristen’s Childhood Traditions

Like many, our traditions have changed and evolved over the years. Leading up to Christmas, I can remember the one thing that made me jump out of bed each morning was changing the Advent calendar. We had several, so it was really a process each morning. 🙂 A couple of days before Christmas, we’d always make lefse, a thin Norwegian potato pancake. We’d turn on some Christmas music, and each take turns rolling one. Christmas Eve has always meant an afternoon church service followed by dinner, games, and gifts with my mom’s side of the family. I can remember the magic of a candlelight church service and the whole congregation singing “Silent Night”, and the thrill of getting together with cousins and being hyped about Santa’s impending arrival. 🙂 I usually fought off sleep for as long as possible, listening hard for hooves on the rooftop.

Christmas morning always meant an early wakeup (jumping on my parents’ bed at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m, and my parents sending me back to bed for 2-3 more hours). This was usually followed by me lying awake in bed, counting down the minutes until I could go wake them up again, and dreaming of whether or not there was an American Girl doll waiting for me in my stocking. 😉 Once 6:00 or 7:00 rolled around, I repeated the whole “jumping on my parents bed” scene, until I was given the OK. Then, I’d run into my brothers’ rooms (when I was 6, they were 14 and 16, so you can imagine our Christmas morning excitement levels were a bit different). We’d look through our stockings, lounge around in our jammies for a bit, and then head to Minneapolis for Christmas Day with my dad’s side of the family. We’d usually close out the night by watching one of the movies we’d gotten in our stockings and reminiscing on a perfect Christmas.

Today, our Christmas looks a little different, and I’m sure will continue to evolve as Andrew and I implement new traditions and spend time with each of our families. 🙂 This year, our “engaged Christmas”, we are spending the weekend before Christmas celebrating with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, and niece. On Christmas Eve, we are going to my church and having dinner with my mom’s side of the family. On Christmas Day, we’ll leave early in the morning to head to Minnesota to spend the day with Andrew’s side of the family at his grandma’s! It’s so different and fun for me, because I grew up with six total cousins, and he has dozens. It’s a bit chaotic, but it’s a house full (to the brim) of love. 🙂

While letting go of some childhood traditions can be hard, it’s so exciting to know that we get to develop brand new ones as we grow up and start our own families. I’m not sure what the future will hold when it comes to our Christmas traditions, but I’m sure Andrew and I will implement some from each of our childhoods. 🙂

Amanda’s Childhood Christmas Traditions

Growing up, there are a few things that stick out in my memory over the holidays. The first was we always had a real Christmas tree. That was something my parents always preferred over having a fake one. Although as my brother, Andrew, and I got older they eventually switched to a fake tree. And honestly I think I prefer the fake ones. Once the tree was up we would listen to music and put up the ornaments as a family.

The next thing I remember is practicing for the children’s Christmas service at our church. We always participated in the service on Christmas Eve. And this brings me to our next tradition. Every year after the children’s service, we would come home and eat dinner as a family before opening presents. This consisted of scalloped potatoes and ham and scalloped corn. We usually had candles lit and Christmas music playing. Then after dinner was cleaned up we would open gifts.

And the third thing I remember is we would get up Christmas morning and load up to head to MN to visit family and then open gifts at my Grandpa and Grandma Darkow’s house.

Amanda’s Current Christmas Traditions

Now that I’ve grown up and have my own family, some things have changed a bit. We still do a Christmas tree. We have a fake one that is actually navy blue! 🙂 Since Ella was old enough this year we had her help put up some ornaments.

The Saturday before Christmas, we celebrate with my husband’s dad side of the family by having a dinner together. Then we also pick a day to spend with Brian’s parents and siblings and open gifts with them.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are now usually spent in MN visiting family. Since we live farther away now, we can’t do just a day trip. So, instead of doing Christmas Eve with my family we pick a date after Christmas that works for us to get together. We still do the scalloped potatoes and ham and scalloped corn when we get together to celebrate!

Christmas Day has remained constant and has not changed. We still spend it with my Grandma Darkow and have a great time visiting with family and opening gifts.

Amanda’s Future Traditions

There are a few things I see happening in the future. First, I plan to make the tree and decorating more of a thing once the kids are both old enough to help more. Which will most likely be next year since Ella will be 4. She will be able to help more and Porter will probably be able to help some too! I foresee Christmas music and maybe even some cookie baking along with decorating.

Ella will also start being able to participate in our church’s children’s Christmas Eve service. Since it isn’t always on Christmas Eve, this should still work in with our current traditions for the time being. And then soon enough Porter will be old enough to participate too!

Both kids in front of the Christmas tree.

And finally, I fully intend on implementing matching pajama pictures by the tree each year. One thing I forgot to mention in my childhood traditions was my mom would have my brother and I take a picture in our church outfits in front of the tree. But how fun would matching pajamas be?! And yes, my husband is actually on board with this idea. He’s the best! 😊

Well that sums up Kristen’s and my traditions! Tell us what your family does to celebrate this time of year. We love to hear what everyone else does!

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