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Preserving the Holiday Spirit: An Intergenerational Journey Through Christmas Traditions

Episode 15- Christmas Traditions through Generations with Shawn Baker

My Grandparents in NY city at Christmas time, displayed behind them the Christmas tree and German village
My Grandma and Grandpa in NY with my Aunt and Uncle

A Special love for people and christmas

Celebrating Christmas traditions through generations, is a topic that I can’t imagine discussing without my sweet Momma!

If you know her, you love her and have felt loved by her. If you knew my Grandma (Pictured above) you know where my Mom learned a special type of love and grace for people. Another thing my Mom inherited from my Grandma was her love and zeal for Christmas.

I thought it was important to start from my Mom’s childhood moving all the way through our current life season with my Siblings families and how we keep the Spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts.

My Mom and I in NY at Christmas
My Mom and I in NY during Christmas time

Christmas magic with European traditions

My Mom grew up in a big beautiful Victorian home, with her Dad, Mom and 4 Siblings. She was the youngest, so at Christmas she was always spoiled and felt all the magic that Christmas brought.

My Mom was the youngest of 5, and her siblings always made Christmas magical
My Mom is the Baby pictured here

Her Mom my Grandma was German. She had adopted traditions from her Mom of making little houses for a village under the tree. My Grandma used her Mom’s houses until they fell apart then started making her own. Her village grew to hundreds of houses by the time I was around and it filled and entire room in their house, nestled under the Christmas tree on a blanket of white cotton snow.

When my Mom was little the tree went up on Christmas Eve, and after going out and looking at lights they would come home and hear a bell jingling, my Mom had just missed Santa but now the house was decorated!

My Mom and her Brother Scott on Santa's lap in 1967
My Mom with her brother Scott

As my Mom got older she helped with the decor and it was up the entire month of December. They did crafts and as you will hear in the episode my Grandma let my Mom make her crafts without correcting her. My Mom talks about how important it is to give your children space to create without judgement.

My Grandma with her sign "Happy Birthday Jesus". in front of their home
You were always welcome at my Grandma’s house

On Christmas Eve my Grandma would invite anyone who wanted to come, “She never knew a stranger”, my Mom says. I can even remember people who were always there who I thought were related to us in some way.

She loved Jesus so much and always wanted people to feel His love and truly know Him.

You can read here about the hospitality passed down through my Grandma, to my Mom and into My home

How did traditions change or stay the same when my parents started their family?

My Grandma and I in front of her Victorian home
My Grandma and I

One of the most beautiful gifts my Mom ever gave me was naming me after my Grandma, that’s right her name was Caroline. Christmas Eve was still always at her house, while she was still walking this earth. I learned so much in the 11 years I had with her about Jesus, Christmas and loving others well.

My sister and I in matching dresses when we were little
Me and my Sister in Matching Dresses

I’m the oldest of 4 children, and we had our own Christmas traditions that we did just as a family.

  • Celebrating the birth of Jesus was central to our celebration, which included reading the Christmas story from the Bible first thing on Christmas morning.
  • We took the whole month off and baked, went caroling, had Christmas parties, watched Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music and visited people in convalescent homes
  • Cinnamon Rolls (The Pillsbury kind) usually fruit and some kind of protein and eggs have always been our Christmas breakfast.
  • We decorated the tree all together on December 1st
  • Christmas books that my Mom collected over the years (You can find the list in the show notes on the podcast) were read throughout the month.
  • Opening gifts one at a time starting with the youngest passing them out, always took all day but was worth it
  • We wore matching Jammies
  • On Christmas Day in the afternoon we always visited my Dad’s side and had a Christmas dinner
  • We did Santa Clause, left out cookies and milk, and no I didn’t feel like my parents lied to me. You can listen in to the interview and hear about how my Mom kept the magic then kept it magical when we found out who Santa really was.
My family and I just before my hubby and I were married
Disneyland was a major part of our Christmas celebration as a family

What changed after we got married?

Once Kev and I got married it was still pretty easy to maintain family traditions. My Siblings were all quite a bit younger than me so they were always all in one place.

Read here my blog post about prioritizing your marriage in busy seasons

Kev and I did a lot of travel for work and fun and had several Christmases where we were abroad in various places but we always celebrated with family when we got back even if it was a different day.

In the interview you’ll hear about a time my Grandma left the tree up until may so my Uncle who was in the service could see it.

Hubby and I spent Christmas in Byblos Lebanon
Hubby and me on Christmas Eve in Byblos Lebanon
One year hubby and I were in Germany for Christmas
Hubby and I visiting Germany at Christmas while staying with dear friends in Belgium
My hubby and I worked in New York City during the holidays one year
Christmas in New York City was one of my faves

Our traditions started to change a bit more as my siblings started getting married and having babies of their own. But my Mom has set the tone that it’s not when we celebrate but that we do. This has freed us all up from feeling guilt and we are all very supportive and accommodating of each other when we need to adjust a date or tradition.

As siblings got married and had babies we kept some traditions the same and others we adjusted-
Our growing family

How can you slow down and really enjoy the season?

When I was growing up my Mom shares how we took the entire month off to really enjoy the season. I think it has shaped how I step into Christmas, it slows it down. Even when you still have to work or still have school the idea and practice of doing something Christmas every single day sort of shifts your focus.

Another way is to turn your attention to those around you. Making sure people feel loved and welcome in your home and life can help the holiday rush not overwhelm you and keep you focused on what’s important.

Jesus is God’s greatest gift to the world, and spending at least a portion of everyday in praise and thanksgiving for that fact can also keep your emotions and heart present in the joy of the season!

Even after family moved we have made an effort to still celebrate together
Our family last Christmas in Tennessee

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