In a world that feels so disconnected, traditions have become something of a conundrum for so many people. How do we keep traditions going when we might feel distant or disengaged with our past? What if we don’t have any current traditions, but long to create them now? How do we honor our family while manifesting a new era of traditions with our own children? Today, we’re delving into our own childhood traditions and memories while sharing our current traditions – some old and some new – to hopefully encourage you to start your own traditions while also embracing the past. Tis the season for spending time with family, and no matter what that looks like for you, it’s always the perfect time to embrace rituals that’ll continue your family’s legacy into the future. So, let’s reconnect and bridge the gap between generations by getting back to our roots – together.
It’s Never Too Late to Start a Holiday Tradition
Holiday Traditions: Where It All Started for Us
When we thought back to see what traditions stood out when we were children, the easiest one to remember was our annual Christmas play at Mimi and Papa’s house. In true Shannon and Jenna form, we would write out a script each year, hand out lines to each family member, and perform the play every Christmas morning. (While roles changed time to time, Papa was always our jolly Santa Claus!)
While we no longer hold a play on Christmas mornings, it warms our heart thinking about how our family encouraged us to be who we were, and still are: creative beings. And so they let us put on our play each year, knowing how much it meant to us. We’re convinced these small moments ultimately gave us the confidence to venture out on our own, eventually manifesting in the creative brand we own today: The Busy Bee.
Just a few weeks ago, Jenna found the play cards in a box while cleaning up, and the memories came spilling back into her mind — those warm, cherished memories that will always be stored in our minds. We love you, Mimi and Papa, for so many things, and especially for allowing our creative selves to flourish every Christmas morning.
Another tradition we loved as kids was seeing the Christmas lights on Howell Branch, a local road that would boast thousands of twinkling lights during the holiday season. We actually still live in the same area in which we grew up, and Jenna was lucky enough to continue this tradition with her own kids when they were young. To say it was a special moment to share the same magical feeling she felt as a child with her own children is an understatement. It allowed her to see the holidays through the eyes of a child, which is always the ideal way to experience the holidays, if you ask us.
Holiday Traditions with Mimi
After we’d open up our gifts under the tree, we’d get ready for a day of family, pack up the car, and head over to Mimi and Papa’s house, where more gift opening and family time would like place (and, of course, our Christmas plays!). Once there, we’d indulge in the most wonderful brunch, which always included Mimi’s famous Christmas morning Creamed Eggs. We love this once-a-year breakfast dish so much, we honestly can’t believe we only get to have it on Christmas morning! But, if we’re being honest, would it hold so much excitement and anticipation if Mimi served her creamed eggs all the time? That’s the thing about holiday traditions, isn’t it? Part of the magic is that it only happens during this fantastically special time of the year. And we simply cannot wait to enjoy these creamed eggs again this year!
Prior to the large spread, however, Mimi would always put out a plate of savory bacon, which was picked on throughout the morning until brunch was ready to be served. A few years ago, we shared our Peppermint Candied Christmas Bacon Recipe, inspired by these cherished mornings with our grandmother.
What Christmas with Mimi and Papa Looks Like Today
These days, with an ever-growing family of four children, 10 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (!) Mimi and Papa arrange for one big, family trip sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every year, we head to one of our favorite local hotels, The Grand Bohemian Hotel in Celebration, for a two-night family reunion.
Our family comes in from all areas of Florida, typically on a Friday, and then we have a big family dinner that evening after everyone has trickled in. Saturday morning is breakfast at the hotel’s long feasting table. That afternoon, the guys head out to golf and the ladies go to the Gaylord Palms to see their gingerbread displays and catch a Cirque Du Soleil show. Saturday evening, the littles all go to see Santa and we have another family dinner. We love taking a walk home from dinner on Saturday night to watch the “snow” on Main Street as we head to the hotel. Once we’ve made it back to the Grand Bohemian, we gather on the couches in the lobby for a white elephant gift exchange and Minute-To-Win-It-style games.
One of the most magical parts of staying in the hotel, in our opinion, is visiting with Santa and Mrs. Clause as they come home for the evening. Without fail, our children always go running up to say hello and we get a few pictures with the happy couple at the end of their evening. It’s a weekend filled with laughter, family memories, and some extra Christmas magic.
A Holiday Tradition with Nana
Our Nana and Pop have always lived in South Florida, and so every Christmas evening, we’d load up the car again with our mom, and head down to their home to keep the festivities going! It became a tradition to see our mom’s side of the family Christmas evening and the following day, and we cherish the memories we made during our drive down with Mom, and the delicious food and special time well spent with our Nana and Pop.
Because we didn’t live locally to them, we often spent school breaks with Nana and Pop, making time spent in their home always have a sense of lightness and ease. One thing we absolutely loved when visiting their home is Nana’s amazing cooking. There are no ifs, ands, or buts: Nana is our family’s home chef. Just choosing one favorite recipe of hers might be impossible, but we must say that her Homemade Italian Meatballs and Easy Taco Soup are definitely high-ranking Nana meals that we frequently make in our own homes!
Recently, we shared Nana’s Christmas Eve Menu, and while we didn’t spend Christmas Eve with Nana, her classic Italian cooking that we always love about her home is present in this simple and traditional collection of recipes.
Get the recipes (in order from top left):
New Holiday Traditions in Our Homes
Now that we’re adults with families of our own, we have the desire to create new traditions and memories that are special and unique to our own children and husbands. We love finding a fusion of traditions given to us by our parents and grandparents, of course, but starting a brand-new tradition feels festive, fun, and uniquely our own.
Last year, we decided to begin visiting Santa with our two families together, and then catching dinner afterward at a local hibachi restaurant. Now it’s become a new ritual that we, our husbands, and children all look forward to each year! It fills our hearts with so much joy to see our children playing together, hear their giggles while riding the train, and feel their sweet arms wrapped around us for hugs. We’re cherishing these memories ourselves and know these will be cherished memories for our kids, too.
A Cozy Christmas Tradition, Two Ways
We’ve also started a tradition of giving our kids new Christmas pajamas to be worn on Christmas morning (or from the house elf, if you’re a Dail), which they look forward to each and every year. Jenna’s family elf brings Christmas pajamas and hot chocolate every year to kick off a cozy night together. Shannon’s family likes to watch a Christmas movie after getting into their matching pajamas–favorites include classics like:
- Elf (streaming on Amazon Prime)
- The Santa Clause (Streaming on Disney+)
- The Polar Express (Streaming on Amazon Prime)
An Unexpected Dail Holiday Tradition
Once upon a time, Jenna and her husband, Nick, were walking through an antique shop with little Cohban, who was young at the time. Yes, a young child in an antique shop — we’re sure you can guess where this is going. Cohban accidentally broke a Santa mug that Jenna lovingly described as “hideous.” The shop owner insisted that Jenna and Nick pay for the Santa mug, but it gets worse! The Santa mug was a part of a larger holiday mug collection. A very expensive holiday mug collection.
They had to buy the whole, hideous set.
So, each year, Jenna has taken out her “hideous” holiday mug collection. And each year, their charm is slowly growing on her! Ten years later, those “hideous” mugs are kind of cute…and kind of a family heirloom – partly due to the cost of the antique shop visit that’ll go down in Dail family history forever, of course. Jenna is now pretty sure the mugs will end up as a wedding gift to Cohban someday, but until then, they have become an unexpected tradition in her house that her family has embraced.
Friend, if you’re unsure of where to start on your tradition journey, close your eyes and think about Christmases past. What brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face? Pick and choose what you want to bring from your past into the future and decide what rituals you’ve always wants to have and start those now.
Traditions are what bind us, and in a world that feel so unbound in the moment, they are more crucial to keep going now more than ever. Connect to the past while moving into the future. Allow your children to know the family members they might have never known. And, finally, remember that your traditions are on your own terms. Let it be whatever you wish it to be.
So, gather. Be merry. Above all, cherish your time with the ones you love.
Start a Tradition: More Ideas & Inspiration
Do you have your own holiday tradition you absolutely adore? Tag us @thebusybee.co and use the hashtag #hostfulatheart for a chance to be featured on our social channels!
Interested in started a new tradition? These three ideas bring a fresh take to the holidays!