Growing up, we’d do Christmas as an immediate family on Christmas Eve’s eve. Then we’d go to my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. Christmas day, we’d go to my dad’s side. I never wondered why there were three Christmases or why Santa didn’t come on Christmas day. Now, we have five family Christmas events my husband and I attend.
When you get married, you don’t mess with Christmas. If you want to never get along with your in-laws, all you have to do is take their son away for Christmas. You have your whole life to make traditions, so enjoy your family traditions while you can. Our daughter, Opal, is 3. We started leaving out cookies and milk. Then my husband got really into leaving the crumbs, a half-drunk glass of milk and a note. We’re on the cusp of having family traditions, and it’s a lot more magical when you throw a young kid in there.
The night before Christmas Eve, we go to my mom’s. She makes a sheet cake with a vintage plastic nativity scene, and we sing happy birthday to Jesus every single year. We also get matching pajamas. On Christmas Eve, we go to my grandparents’ house before my husband and I drive to his family in Kansas City. We leave around 10 p.m. and get there around midnight—sometimes in our new pajamas.
We’ve made it into a fun tradition for our little family. If you’re going to be driving Christmas Eve, it can be easy to think it’s horrible. But we listen to Christmas music and pack snacks, coffee and hot chocolate. I know it sounds crazy when you look at what we pack in, but we wouldn’t change it for anything.