AH! Can you believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow?! What happened to 2016, y’all?
I’m super pumped for the weekend to begin because (surely you guys know by now) I LOVE CHRISTMAS! And so does my whole family. Like, I think I just grew up with that gene engraved in me, lol! (Thanks Mom and Dad!) In our fam, we have shared tons of (the same) Christmas traditions for years. Some of our family Christmas traditions actually started back when my Papaw (aka the sweetest man in the whole world) was a little boy. And somehow, after all those years … we’ve kept them more than alive with every year passing. If there is one thing that I truly cherish in life – it’s tradition. Specifically Christmas traditions. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d open up and share a few of my most personal, most special holiday traditions that will always hold such a special place in my heart!
Annnd, apparently I’m just getting all kinds of personal today because I wanted to share some of our Christmas home decor – it can be kind of challenging coming into a bachelor pad and turning it into a family home, but Teej and I just work together and try to be as patient as possible. We’re proud of our first home together. So many amazing memories have been made here and we couldn’t be more excited for our first official Christmas as husband and wife – and living under the same roof, finally!
So, as you can see in the first few pics above, I like for my wrapping on presents to match my tree and have really big, pretty bows. I get this from my sweet Mama! Growing up, she would always do this with mine and my sister’s gifts that were wrapped, and we both grew to LOVE it. My sis and I especially loved the huge bows on our presents because we were both cheerleaders and just thought that the massive bows were the coolest thing ever when we were younger.
Now that we are grown and have Christmas gifts of our own to wrap, we package them up just like our Mama does. My sister is 32 and always jokes about how our mom can’t stop making our gifts ‘pretty’. She says she won’t accept a present without a big, pretty Christmas bow, hah! All jokes .. but nonetheless, our mom has never stopped giving our gifts that special touch, and I don’t think my sister and I ever will either – no matter how old we get or how old our future kids get!
Stockings are a common tradition for many families, but it’s still a special one for me for a few different reasons! We have always gotten a stocking at my mom’s place for Christmas (Teej, my sister, her hubby Josh, and me). Then we all go in together to give my mom a stocking. Then, once we go over to my grandparents’ house, all the ‘kids’ (even though we are all pretty old now lol) get a stocking. Those at my grandparents’ house are super special because we have always used my Papaw’s old, wool boot socks as our stockings. For as long as I can remember this tradition has been going on. We always go over to their house on Christmas Eve for dinner, so that night we all grab a boot sock – fighting over the biggest one, of course – and then go lay them out in our spots (we even sit in the same spot each year while opening gifts, ha!) for Santa to fill up. There’s a running joke between my mom and my uncle .. One of them will usually trade out the other’s boot sock with a tiny kids’ sock as their stocking or they will fill up the other’s sock with sticks, coal, etc. Just to mess with each other! It’s always fun!
This year, the hubs and I will be exchanging stockings for the first time and I’m so excited! TJ told me last night that Santa’s already started filling mine up! 😉 Tempting much? I like surprises though, so I won’t be peeking! The traditions of the Christmas stocking – both new and old – will always hold a special place in my heart.
Cedar Christmas Tree
This one is quite possibly my favorite. For as long as I can remember, at my grandparents’ house, there’s always been a live cedar tree that we decorate for Christmas. And the best part about it? My Papaw has a field by his house where’s he’s planted cedar Christmas trees, so each year we go find the prize egg and cut one down as the ‘Cooper Family Christmas Tree’. It’s very old-fashioned, complete with the big, colored light bulbs and ornaments as old as time. These ornaments are from way back when my Papaw was first born in 1937. We truly CHERISH these precious ornaments. They may be old and barely hanging on by a thread (literally), but the significance that they are in our family cannot even be described. Along with the ornaments, we have the old garland and of course, the tinsel. When I was little, I would throw a massive load of the tinsel right on the front of the tree, and looking back now, it probably gave my Pap anxiety, lol, but he’s so precious and would have never said a word. So there we would sit on Christmas morning, seeing all of our gifts from Santa and a gob of tinsel as our backdrop!
Our whole fam gets together at my grandparents’ house every year to decorate this family tree. It’s something more special to me than words can describe. My Gran and Pap basically turn into little kids at Christmastime and it makes my heart so happy. The holiday spirit sure runs deep in our family during this time of year!
So, this is probably another popular tradition for many families – matching pajamas on Christmas Eve/morning. Every year since my older sister was born, my mom has bought Christmas PJs for us girls. When I came along, we of course had to match. 😉 So, now we have the long-time tradition of opening our PJ gifts from Queenie (aka our mom) on Christmas Eve and then wearing them all throughout Christmas morning. Once our husbands came in the picture, they of course got to join in on the tradition. Not sure if they were excited about this or if they were like ‘Um, what have we gotten ourselves into?’ ha! Suck it up, boys! Just kidding … I actually think they really like it 🙂
When I think about the holidays, one of the main things I think about is good food. Don’t you?? Isn’t that the reason we put off our diets until it’s time for our New Year resolutions? LOL. In our fam, there are a LOT of good cooks. Like, I have a lot of practicing to do. On Christmas and during this season, the cooks in our family definitely amp it up and my taste buds get reeeal excited. Every year around this time, my Granny makes homemade ‘nuts and bolts’ – aka chex mix. It’s one of those things that once you start eating it, you can’t quit. Then, my Papaw is the baker in the fam. That’s where I get my love for baking … did y’all know that I love to bake? Like, obsessed. If I had more time on my hands, I’d probably blow up because I’d be baking 24/7! Anywho, one of my Pap’s signature holiday foods is his homemade candy. For as long as I can remember, he’s been baking chocolate, peanut butter, & butterscotch fudge around this time of year – and man, is it good!! (pictured above) I love it because it’s not super hard like a lot of fudge can be. It’s softer and just melts in your mouth. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Pap’s candy or Gran’s nuts & bolts.
We also have a tradition on Christmas Day for our family breakfast. After we finish opening gifts at my grandparents’ house, we all go upstairs and cook breakfast together. Included in this feast is our family fried oysters recipe. Yep, you read that right! Fried oysters have been a part of our family Christmases since waaay before my grandparents’ were even born. When I was a little girl, I was timid about eating them. But once I finally tried one, I really liked them! I think I started eating oysters when I was like 9 or 10 because of this tradition. Now, I’m TOTALLY obsessed. Teej and I could live on any kind of oysters – raw or fried. Mmm, this is making me hungry, ha! Along with the fried oysters on Christmas morning, we have a spread of Pap’s homemade biscuits (remember, he’s the baker) and gravy, country ham, eggs, and then a mix of grape juices, apple juice, and orange juice. It’s def my favorite meal of the year!
After my Gran and Pap’s house, we head over to my Mimi’s house for Christmas and lunch with my dad’s side of the family. And let me tell you, we are just blessed with so many cooks in our fam. Mimi can cook up a storm! At her house, I get to see a lot of my cousins and catch up over more yummy food and some amazing desserts with coffee. Mimi’s house always has a plethora of K-cups so we have so many options for that midday pick-me up! A lot of times, my sweet Daddy has to work on Christmas day 🙁 so anytime that we get to spend with him at my Mimi’s house – even if it’s just for lunch and exchanging gifts – is so cherished. If there’s one thing I could change about Christmas, it’d be that everywhere would be closed on that day so that every employee could be with their families. But, I guess it takes a special person to be willing to keep everything up and running on such a sacred day!
Of course, Christmas movies are a worldwide tradition for many families! What’s your fam’s favorite Christmas movie?? My family’s fave is Christmas Vacation. We are literally the Griswolds, y’all! No joke. We even have matching Christmas shirts that are Griswold-themed, lol. We watch that one every year and then Teej and I watch Elf & Home Alone every year. My mom and I also looove the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. They are so heartwarming!
And lastly, some of my favorite holiday traditions are now new traditions to me. I come from a very tight knit family, but when you get married and add more family to the mix, some new things come along and traditions are added – I couldn’t love this more. Usually, I’m really bad with change. But TJ’s family has welcomed me just like one of their own! And it really works out because his family has always done Christmas the week before or on Christmas Eve, so we are still able to make it to both sides of our family Christmases. Most of his family is in lower East Tennessee – about an hour and a half drive from us, so not too far, and then some are in north Georgia. The past two weekends were spent with his side of the family celebrating the holidays and then this weekend, we will be with my side of the fam. I’m so grateful for my family accepting Teej right in as well. He’s the newest addition to our big family. It’s such a blessing to have both sides of our families who accept each of us and love us as their own.
Another one of our new traditions is our Baxter Christmas Cards. I’ve NEVER done a Christmas card. Ever. So, this was something so exciting for us – especially being newlyweds and starting our own family traditions. We plan to do this every year, and we actually already have the best idea in mind for the year when we are expecting (not for a few more years though, ha). The picture above only shows the front of the card, but we made a pact to always include something on our holiday cards that makes the recipient laugh. So, on the back, we put three photos from our wedding where we were smashing our wedding cake in each other’s faces and captioned it ‘We hope you have a sweet Christmas and a smashing New Year!’ … Don’t ever take yourself too seriously!
The last new tradition that we added on this year was our Baxter Memories tree. We have a mini Christmas tree in our kitchen with all the ornaments of places we have been over the years. That’s where we hung our ‘Our First Christmas’ ornaments, the one from California where we got engaged, one from our honeymoon and then a few more meaningful pieces that take us back to special times in our lives. I’m sure someday we will be adding our little ones’ arts & crafts ornaments from school! It’s definitely our special tree.
Well, there ya have it! Longest blog post, ever. But this is such a special time of year, and sharing my fave traditions with you guys just made me even more excited for this weekend! Are there any fun traditions that you and your families have? I’d love to hear what they are! Being a new wife, I’ve been searching for some more traditions to call our own for our little family, so any ideas that you all have would be so appreciated!
TRUE GRIT VEST GIVEAWAY
The vest I’m wearing in the pics above is the exact one that I’m giving away to one lucky winner! If you haven’t entered my giveaway, head on over to my INSTA to enter today. The winner will be announce on Dec. 24 at 5:00 pm EST.
Thank you so much for spending some time with me today, beautiful! I can’t begin to express how much it means to have your support for love ‘n’ labels! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my holiday traditions. Traditions are absolutely wonderful, but even better than that is our sweet, sweet Savior. We must never forget the true reason for the season. Happy (early) birthday to my favorite birthday boy, Jesus Christ! And a VERY Merry Christmas to you all!! 🙂 Love ya ladies!