Christmas Traditions—Decking the Halls

Holiday traditions are as wonderfully diverse as the families who practice them. In conjunction with my new release Bear Creek Christmas, allow me to share some of mine!


The following excerpt is taken from my new release, Bear Creek Christmas.

Levi opened the box from home and took out some strange looking do-dads and funky homemade ornaments—all bearing the marks of time and frequent handling. Knox pointed to a particularly homely configuration of popsicle sticks, glued together in the approximate shape of a star. It had been spray-painted gold and then covered with glitter, topped with a bright red loop of yarn.

Levi couldn’t quite reach the top, so Knox picked him up to hang the gold star where it belonged. He received a kiss for his trouble, and they began placing the other items from the box. Afterward came the new decorations: balls, bows, ice crystals, candy canes, sleds, and several tiny teddy bears. Lastly, Levi spread the bright red tree skirt around the stand and snapped a photo.

Knox hung the stockings on the mantle and the pinecone wreath on the front door, while Levi found places for the knick-knacks, scented candles, and the centerpiece for the dining table. The holiday hand towels went up in the bathroom and kitchen, leaving only the garland, twinkle lights, and mistletoe.

The mistletoe came last since Levi knew Knox would be distracted by the kissing part of the project. By the time they finished, Levi wouldn’t be able to move more than ten feet before passing underneath a bunch of mistletoe—exactly what Knox wanted. It took a lot of snogging to complete the job, though neither of them minded.


My parents spent more on gifts than decorating, which we certainly appreciated as kids. Mom still made an effort to dress up the house for the season, and it all started with the tree. Dad always bought a real one and brought it home on the top of the car. No one ever went with him for this important purchase, probably so he could get in and out without delay.

My sister Lynn was their first child, born on December 17th. I’m not sure why, but mom decided that all things Christmas would begin on that day every year. Lynn even got a tree-shaped birthday cake, which she thought was so cool!

Once dad got the tree in the house and set up in a stand, he disappeared and let mom direct the decorating. She did the lights first, which for many years were the large (and hot) old-style bulbs. I still like them better than the tiny lights we use now, but they were a fire hazard and often left large sections of the tree without lights if one of the bulbs burnt out.

After that, we put up the glass ornaments; fragile and easily broken but oh so pretty.

There were other decorations, such as the ones we made in school or store-bought baubles of various kinds. The tree-topper changed over the years from gold glass to fabric angels.

Tinsel came last and it was the REAL THING, made of thin strips of aluminum foil. Mom tried to make us slow down and do it right, but we were always in a hurry to get it done. The foil easily creased and tore, and sometimes showed up as big blobs here and there.

The final touch was the red tree skirt which mom wrapped around the base and then placed the Nativity set front and center.

Afterward, we sang some carols around the finished tree and checked every day for the appearance of wrapped gifts.

The rest of the house wasn’t entirely ignored. Stockings were taped to the living room bookcase and garland wrapped around the staircase railing. Mom hung up a few sprigs of plastic mistletoe and there was always a festive wreath on the front door.

Two round glass jars filled with red silk balls and holly made an appearance too. On Christmas day, mom brought out a poinsettia tablecloth for the meal, but I don’t recall any centerpieces or other bric-a-brac.

Even the second floor got a bit of cheer with holiday coloring book pages taped to bedroom doors.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things, but too many years have gone by. Thanks to my parents, Christmas was always a special time and the good memories live on.

Your turn to share. Please tell me what you and yours do for the holidays!