10 of My All-Time Favorite Christmas Memories

I had originally planned on writing another homeschooling post today, but earlier this evening I finished reading a book gifted to me by a very dear friend. One of the characters in this story begins to talk about how certain sights, sounds, and smells can powerfully evoke childhood Christmas memories. As I pondered this, a flood of recollections of Christmases past entered my mind, and I’ve not been able to think about much else since.

What strikes me the most about these memories is the fact that not one of them is materialistic in any way. Our culture has become so obsessive about consumption and always wanting the next best thing that I find that many adults are passing these ideals onto their children. Lining up outside of toy stores at 3 am on Thanksgivingspending hundreds of dollars on technology for children as young as 2, and getting into arguments with fellow shoppers over the last Hatchimal have become the norm for the modern holiday season. 

holiday greed

If you’re guilty of one or more of the things I mentioned above, it’s okay. Really. I know that you’re trying to make your kids happy, but I do want to call attention to the things I remember the most about my Christmases as a child. I should mention that, as the baby of the family, I was never wanting for anything, and my Christmas mornings were a reflection of that, but as a 42-yr-old (yes, I’m finally admitting that I’m not 29 anymore) my fondest recollections have absolutely nothing to do with what was under the tree.

I know that Christmas is under a week away and most of your shopping is probably already finished, but here’s to hoping I help at least one person realize that your kids don’t need more stuff. They need you.


10 of My Fondest Childhood Christmas Memories


baking with mom

1. Baking cutout cookies with my mom.

Baking cookies was not something we did often. My mom worked second shift from the time I was 5 until last year when she turned 80 (I’m not even kidding), so this was something that was rare and cherished. I remember how excited I used to be when she pulled out the bag of cookie cutters that I only ever saw once a year. I remember the 4-layer metal cookie container she kept all of our Christmas cookies in. And I remember how proud I felt setting those cookies out for Santa knowing that I helped make them.


2. Going into the attic storage room and pulling out the Christmas decorations.

This is one of those memories that is evoked by smell. I used to love the musty, old scent of our decorations as my brother and I pulled them out every year. We used the same ones year after year, and that is what made them so special. They all had their own special place where they belonged, and once everything was out, our house truly felt like Christmas. We used to love surprising my mom with the decorations when she came home from work at night.


3. Moving the mouse in our Avon Christmas countdown calendar.

My mom was always a huge Avon fanatic, so we always had tons of their products all over our house. My favorite was the Christmas countdown calendar. Even when I was in high school, I used to love coming downstairs in the morning to move the mouse in the pocket closer and closer everyday to the 24th.


lighting the candles for advent

4. Lighting the Advent candles.

We had a little Advent wreath (also from Avon, I believe), and every Sunday in Advent we would come home from church and light the candles on the wreath. I specifically remember burning myself one year as I did it, but that’s helped this memory to stick even more!


5. Going to Ice City with my dad to see the Christmas display.

Ice City was actually a pool store, but around October, they would always replace the pool accessories with Christmas lights, tinsel, and ornaments. They had one showcase room that was dedicated solely to the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, running train sets, and mechanical elves, angels, and Santas that were mesmerizing, yet creepy, in a Christmas Story sort of way.


6. Going to the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

Every Christmas Eve, the church I grew up in had a candlelight service in which the sanctuary was lit only by candles, and we spent almost the entire service singing Christmas carols. It was magical. (Except for the year I had to light those candles. That’s a different story…)


hanging the stockings on christmas eve

7. Hanging up our stockings on Christmas Eve.

I know most people hang their stockings early because they look beautiful by the fireplace, but we always waited until right before bedtime on Christmas Eve to put ours up. Every year my parents took a picture of us putting them up.


8. Opening up one present before we went to bed.

We had a tradition of always giving each other one small gift to open before we went upstairs on Christmas Eve. My favorite part was choosing which one to give to my mom and dad. My children and I continue this tradition to this day.


9. Celebrating Christmas with the entire extended family at my aunt’s house.

Shortly before my nana passed away, she told my mom and her siblings that she wanted them to continue getting together every Christmas, as we had always done. My mother’s sister took on the task of hosting everyone- aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, etc.- at her house every Christmas day. She did all the cooking herself- the house smelled wonderful- and it was really crowded because she lived in a row home, but those get-togethers are the source of so many wonderful memories for me.


10. Listening to Christmas carols on the radio in the car.

Every time I hear “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or “Jingle Bell Rock,” I imagine myself as a child sitting in the car on the way home from my aunt’s on Christmas night. I also remember listening to these tunes as we drove around the city looking at all the beautifully decorated houses. To this day, I still love driving around to look at Christmas lights.


My dad and my aunt are no longer here on this earth, but sharing the joy of every Christmas season has seen to it that they are at the forefront of my thoughts year round. Buying things for your kids is nice, but are you creating meaningful traditions that they will remember with fondness after you’re gone? Are you giving them a foundation for how to spend Christmas with their own children someday? 

It’s never too late. Start today. Right now.

What are you waiting for?

What are your favorite Christmas memories? I’d love to read about them in the comments!





Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

34 thoughts on “10 of My All-Time Favorite Christmas Memories”

  1. What special memories and traditions. We open new pajamas on Christmas Eve and my kids love that tradition. My favorite memory from my childhood was spending every Christmas Eve at my grandma’s house where we enjoyed a big feast, a Christmas talent show and exchanging gifts with my cousins, aunts and uncles.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We try to focus more on the moments and memories rather than the “things”… honestly my boys wish list lists change so often that it’s just not worth trying to buy them that one special thing. Things are fleeting but memories last forever… or a lot longer anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Taking my girls to see the Nutcracker, making cookies!! Which we did this year with the grandbabies too!!
    Driving around looking at lights, and the big extended family Christmas meal. I really miss that last one, since my grandparents, and my Granny are all dead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love you memories. Sparked me to think about mine. I think my favorite memory from childhood would have to be the Christmas eve 11pm service that we always went to.. Every year we would get home after midnight and beg my mom to let us open presents since it technically was Christmas… She never went for that idea! haha. Thanks for your post. Merry merry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A friend of mine from school (many years ago…) used to go to midnight mass, then come home and open all her presents. She loved it, but I always enjoyed coming downstairs on Christmas morning and being surprised by the gifts under the tree. Have a wonderful Christmas!


  5. what fun memories! Christmas Carols on the car radio is a big one for me, too. Love your tradition of hanging stockings on Christmas Eve!
    One sweet memory of mine is my Dad wearing a silly too-small Santa hat on his head as he handed out gifts on Christmas morning.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours! Happy Memory-Making to you and yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great memories. It is fun to think back on things you would do as a child. I hope I am making memories that my own children will remember when they are grown.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love all of your traditions! I have similar memories. My favorite part is that after Mass on Christmas Eve, we go home. We turn down all the lights and instead we light candles and burn a fire in the fireplace. We pig out on all of the goodies we’ve been making all week while we read Christmas books and watch a favorite Christmas cartoon. Spending time together laughing is my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have some great memories! I like hanging the stockings up on Christmas Eve. I’ve usually put them up when doing my decorating. That would’ve been a good one when my kids were young. You’re right about it being these seemingly little things that become our most cherished memories. Most of them are so easy to do. They don’t usually cost much money. It’s more just remembering to do them, setting out to establish some traditions for our children to fondly remember someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aw, such a lovely list of memories! My daughter’s not two yet so I wasn’t planning on spending anything this year – I’d won a few toys in competitions which I’d wrapped ready – and just focused on taking her to see the light switch ons, etc, instead. But my partner has had a last minute freak out and bought a ton of stuff… I think he’s more sensitive to what other people think than I am! x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is amazing! I love that as adults we don’t look back and smile about the latest toy but instead about the small things. We try so hard to make Christmas about family time and the REAL reason of the season. We do an activity advent all month long in December. Some of the ideas are simple, like paint your nails red and green. Other ideas are super-fun, like go out to breakfast in your pajamas! I know we are doing it right and focusing on the important things. I pray my kids look back and remember the things, just like you did.
    Hope you and yours had a merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my gosh– we had the Avon advent calendar with the mouse too– hadn’t thought of it in years!!! Now I need to go to my mom’s and figure out if she still has it! LOL! Thank you for the sweet memories! And yes some of my favorite Christmas memories have nothing to do with what I got either ♥ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Shelly!

    Liked by 1 person

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