What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Journalism adjunct professor Tim Ghianni asked that question to Lipscomb students in his multimedia story-telling lab before Christmas break.

Turns out, the answers range from going to the Waffle House after Christmas Eve service to watching the artificial tree get more barren each year.

For others, it’s Grandma’s house, the familiarity and the green china.

Enjoy these first-person tales and enjoy your own holidays and blessings.

Merry Christmas from Lumination.

Peytan Porter:

Christmas is hands-down my favorite holiday. It shifts people of all backgrounds to a season of love, celebration, gratefulness and happiness.

My traditions aren’t anything super special; we usually just enjoy being able to spend time together as a family without as many distractions.

One thing in particular I always look forward to, however, is opening presents with my sisters and parents on Christmas morning.

We throw the wrapping paper across the living room into a big trash bag my dad holds open while my cat tries to deflect it in the air.

Perhaps my favorite part of the morning is when my dad brings out his “special gift for mom.”

We wrap presents for each other, but my dad somehow manages to surprise my mom with a “special gift” each year. It’s always a highlight because it’s usually something he wanted that he knew mom wouldn’t buy him.

For example, one year it was Guitar Hero. Dad was so excited – mom was not – but us girls thought both reactions were hilarious. I think a few years later he got her a virtual reality headset which is still something my mother has zero interest in.

She opened it — he grinned, and before we even got to breakfast he was looking around telling us how cool it was. I think he primarily does these things to make his three daughters laugh, but he genuinely thinks mom will love every single gift. We’re already looking forward to this year’s stunt.

Olivia Banks:

Every year I spend my first hours of Christmas at Waffle House.

This is a tradition my best friend’s family created with my family a few years ago. It started when I was in high school. We all were at church for our Christmas Eve service, and the topic came up that I had never been to Waffle House.

My best friend’s family was shocked at this news. They decided that we must go that night, so they could experience my first encounter at Waffle House with me. Since then, we always look forward to venturing to Waffle House once the church service ends.

Our two families fill up almost the entire restaurant. We often overwhelm the staff because they don’t expect to get such a big crowd at midnight on Christmas.

It’s often a battle to make sure that everyone gets their silverware, but it always gets figured out. Sometimes it gets accomplished because we make the younger siblings go behind the counter and get it for us, but it always gets done.

Last year, we had a white Christmas and documented the moment with the Waffle House sign in the background of our picture. It’s an odd tradition, but it’s one of my favorite things about Christmas. We get to spend the start of the holiday together with laughter, community and good food.

Sara Jones:

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, excitement and anticipation run high. For my family, Christmas is a cherished time of the year when everyone gathers together.

Picking out the perfect Christmas tree, decorating our home with passed-down memories and baking sweet treats all play a role into the festivities had. However, my favorite tradition of all takes place the night before Christmas.

Christmas Eve is always spent at my grandparents’ home, just down the road. As we pull into their driveway, I swear I can already smell the delicious food my grandmother has stayed up all night preparing.

Hanging on the front doors are the same two wreathes with red bows, and through them you can see a glowing fireplace. Just about every room of their house is decorated floor-to-ceiling, but perhaps even more impressive is that my grandparents can recall where each trinket came from. Time passes quickly as we share funny memories and eat around the dining room table that once felt huge.

As a child, my favorite part of the night took place around the Christmas tree when we would open gifts. However, as I have gotten older, I realize my favorite part of the evening is how comfortable and familiar this evening feels to me.

Parker Bell:

The tree goes up with a different look every year. Every go-‘round the artificial tree that lies in a box in our attic looks more and more worn out.

After the branches are fluffed, the lights go on — at least most of them do. Five rows of lights are out, and we make a trip to the local Ace Hardware.

Once the tree is full of white lights, the homemade ornaments that my mom loves are hung on the drooping branches. By the end of the season, half of the plastic pine needles are on the tree skirt that covers the stand below. It’s not the perfect idea of a Christmas tree. It’s not even a natural tree.

But, we love it. It stands proud next to the fireplace that works half of the time. If it works, the fire fills the room with the comfort and joy of Christmas.

As the days dwindle down to the 25th, presents begin to pile onto the brick hearth. The presents are stamped with tags that read, “from Mom and Dad” and “from Caroline,” my sister. Those are the names of the ones who make Christmas my favorite holiday. The time spent in our living room with our worn-out tree, watching movies and listening to Christmas music make the season special, even if I’m tired of (all of it) by mid-January.

Hannah Forsythe:

For the holidays my family loves to get together and celebrate as one big group.

One tradition my brother and I always did growing up is we would get to open one present on Christmas Eve. This was always so much fun, because we would look at every single present we had under the tree and shake them to guess what is inside or peek in the bags with tissue paper.

My mom had to make sure that the gifts my brother and I picked out to open wasn’t her special “big” gift for us all, since she wanted us to open that on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day my brother and I would wake up at 6 a.m. every single year and go look in our stockings then run and jump on our parents’ bed to wake them up. We would all get up and put on Santa hats, and one of us got designated to be “Santa” and bring the presents under the tree to each family member sitting in my living room.

We opened up the presents, but of course my mom would go last, because she wanted to watch our reactions opening the gifts.

Finally, to end our family tradition that morning, my mom would hide a Christmas pickle in the tree. A Christmas pickle is a little green ornament that she hangs somewhere random in the tree, and my brother and I were in competition to see who could find it first. Whoever finds it supposedly gets good luck for a year.

Morgan Brotz:

When I think about Christmas with the Brotz family, I think about inside jokes, goofy moments and lots of laughter.

We have been going to Florida for the past three years and will do so again this year. It is such a sweet time to be together, get away and hang out as a family.

We have created traditions there, like eating at certain restaurants, sunset Christmas Eve-Eve service on the beach and eating lots of ice cream at our go-to ice cream place. Throughout the day we get to rest on the beach, throw the football around and talk with each other while standing in the ocean.

My favorite tradition of all is one we started last year. We read through our “thankful/blessings jar” from the whole year. We set aside one night to read through all of the notes we wrote throughout the previous year and enjoy moments of remembering the special blessings throughout that year. We have been writing notes yet again this year, and that is most definitely one of the biggest excitements I have going into our trip to Florida for Christmas.

Kelli Messmer:

Every Christmas Eve, we spend the evening gathered around the table eating a meal prepared by my grandmother. We use the old green china set, the snowman placemats that were handmade by my great-grandmother and eat a honey baked ham that comes hot out of the oven.

After the dinner, we clean up and load up our belongings and trail back to our home with Granny and Pop in the backseat.

My sister and I, now ages 25 and 22, have spent every Christmas Eve the same. Granny sleeps in my bed with my older sister, and I sleep on the ground. Granny would tell us the Christmas stories right before we fell asleep and would pause and say, “I hear Santa’s bells. You better fall asleep.”

No one would sleep terrific that night, and so we would all wake up, bright and early, at 6 a.m. and would go downstairs and open gifts.

Oh how I love Christmas time!


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