The Childhood Christmas Traditions We'll Never Outgrow

There's no age limit when it comes to Christmas joy!

Mother posing with son and daughter near Christmas tree
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

You've probably heard Gene Autry's song "Everyone's a Child at Christmas," but when was the last time you took his words to heart? Nowadays, the holidays are so full of menu planning and decorating that it's easy to lose sight of the "happy holiday jollity" that Autry sang about. Don't get wrapped up in all of the stress the holidays can bring. Instead, try to embrace the child-like wonder that made Christmas your favorite time of year growing up.

In the spirit of the season, our Southern Living editors reminisced on our favorite Christmas traditions that we have loved since childhood. From our favorite Christmas movies to matching pajamas, there are so many things about this season that bring us joy and bring back memories of all of our past Christmases. While toys and other trinkets of holidays past are long gone, these memories and traditions are little pieces of the season that always make us feel like a child at Christmas.

The Night Before Christmas

Assistant General Manager Anna Price Olson loves all things Christmas, and a lot of her joy for the season comes from the traditions she enjoys with her family. One of Olson's favorite traditions is cuddling up with her two sisters on the couch on Christmas Eve to read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" after midnight mass. The sisters "pass the book back-and-forth as we each get to read one page. We are serious about this rule—no one reads a word or line more!"

Merriment In Matching Pajamas

We have covered this topic many times, but we love Christmas pajamas. There is nothing better than curling up by the tree with a sugar cookie or two in our favorite flannels. Quite a few of our editors have a tradition associated with wearing matching pajamas with their family.

In Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall's family, matching pajamas are worn on Christmas morning, while Olson and her sisters receive their matching pajamas as an early gift so they can wear them together on Christmas Eve. Regardless of when you wear them, matching pajamas are a fun tradition that you can recreate year-after-year.

Ornaments Through The Years

If you are looking for a tradition to start with your little ones, you will love this sweet gesture. Growing up, Senior Food Editor Kimberly Holland's mother would give her an ornament labeled with the year on it every year. By the time Holland was grown and had her first tree, she "had sweet ornaments and didn't have to panic-buy tons to start." Smart and sentimental!

Christmas Calls For Cake!

Y'all know that we are big fans of cake for the holidays. From our famous white cakes to our other delicious confections, we confess that Christmas and cake just belong together in our minds. Digital Editor Jenna Sims' family uses cake for a bit of a deeper meaning by having a birthday cake to celebrate Jesus' birth. Sims says it "was a tradition my mom started to help teach the meaning of Christmas from a young age."

Movies We Watch On Repeat

We all have a favorite Christmas movie that immediately transports us to our childhood that we just cannot get enough of. For Associate Editor Mary Shannon Wells, the movie is White Christmas, which she watches with her mom every holiday season. Wells shared, "From the first time I watched White Christmas, I was enamored. How could you not be in love with this movie between Vera-Ellen's dance skills, Bing Crosby's voice, and the to-die-for costumes?"

Sometimes, we just have to watch our favorite Christmas movie on repeat which is exactly what Travel and Culture Editor Tara Massouleh McCay's family does with A Christmas Story. Throughout the festivities of Christmas day, this classic stays on loop in her household.

Christmas Eve Chinese

For some, Christmas Eve dinner can be a big fuss with a huge amount of preparation, but for associate editor Kaitlyn Yarborough's family, it's not so complicated. "We go out to the local Chinese restaurant after the Christmas Eve church service!" Yarborough explains. "There are always the same families there and it's become an unlikely tradition that started when we were kids." During peak-pandemic, Yarborough's family still stuck with tradition by ordering take-out from the restaurant and ate their feast on her great-grandmother's china. Even when traditions have to change due to uncontrollable circumstances, Yarborough reminds us "celebrating Christmas is about the people not the place!"

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