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Holiday Traditions for Rockwells and Rockstars

Holiday Traditions for Rockwells and Rockstars

When someone says “tradition,” Norman Rockwell usually comes to mind; particularly the family gathered around the beautifully set table, perfectly cooked turkey being served by the matriarch while everyone, dressed in their Sunday best, cheers and smiles behind fine china and silver. It is a lovely image of a bygone day and era when times were slower and, perhaps, we were more methodical in our holiday-ing spirit. At least, according to the painting, Mammaw put on a clean apron before coming to the table. Today, for better or worse, most family get-togethers are more like rock concerts than a Rockwell painting. The turkey has been traded for tail-gate style buffets, the fine china replaced by Chinet, and Christmas pajamas have replaced Sunday best. Still, the holidays are a time to gather close to the ones we love and give ourselves and our cell phones time to fully recharge. In preparation for this holiday season, consider adding some of these traditions to your modern day painting.

Free the Bird

It is hard to beat the traditional turkey + dressing + pie, eat-until-your-pants-cry holiday meal, but many families have found alternatives to fit their style and taste. Gumbo, spaghetti, and McDonalds at midnight are all fair options for holiday fare. The Price Family of Brandon prefers an Asian holiday twist. Megan says, “Absolutely no one in our family likes turkey, so every year we make Chinese food… or we attempt to!” Some families find that attending late holiday services requires holiday meals out. The Sirmon Family of Brandon is preparing for their fifth annual Christmas Breakfast at Waffle House, after midnight communion service at their family’s church.

In creating new traditions, some families create new holidays. Sally Wells Black, of Madison, and her family celebrate Candy Day between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. Four generations join forces and spend hours making insane amounts of homemade candy to share with friends and neighbors.

Find A Flick

There are endless lists of holiday movies that are great, year after year. Some modern favorites include: Elf, A Christmas Story, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. However, the Upchurch Family of Ackerman finds that loading everyone, as many as twenty people, into cars and heading to a local theater is the best way to celebrate a busy, full tummy day. Each year they choose a new release and pile in to watch it, sharing an annual cinematic experience and a few boxes of movie butter popcorn.

Follow the Light

Many families enjoy a Christmas Light tour on Christmas Eve, but the Henderson family of Madison has a special twist. Henderson Mom, Monique, says, “Christmas Eve we get in our new pajamas and go look at Christmas lights. Then, we come home and have hot chocolate and a birthday cake for Jesus. We invite a few people to pop over, depending on who is around, but they have to be cool with our Christmas pajamas only rule.”

Like the Hendersons, the Benson Family of Gulfport, enjoys Christmas lights and opening gifts early. Samantha and Michael allow their young son to open only one gift on Christmas eve – a game they can all play. As bedtime and Santa’s visit near, they spend time together as a trio, mastering the game and making lots of memories.

Forget the Cold

The short weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day do not always provide ample time for celebrating traditions, so some families have traded in Winter celebrations for Summer ones. Mollie Mills Shepherd of Louisville (and Nashville, TN) says, “We have the family Christmas in July – swimming, inflatables, zip line, a hot air balloon this year! With big extended families living spread out across the south, we’ve found it’s the best way to get everyone together every year with no stress. It started when our oldest, Dax, was little and couldn’t be around people during the winter becauseof his health, but it’s turned out to be my favorite Christmas tradition!”

If this holiday seems to be of a mess than a masterpiece, find joy in those small moments. Remember, it is often the biggest messes that become the best memories. As long as no one leaves yelling or crying, this holiday season will be a big success!


Jen Cornett lives in Brandon, MS. Her favorite holiday tradition is singing 1980s country duets in the kitchen with her sister. The rest of her family would probably disagree.

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