The Burnette Family
We always had a huge Thanksgiving Feast at a relative’s house or at our home, but now that our sons live so far away we have changed our traditions. Jimmy and I ﬂy to Riverside, CA to be with Jim, our oldest son. Rather than cook and eat at home we enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving feast together at the Mission Inn which is a historic hotel in Riverside. At Thanksgiving the hotel is in its initial stages of being decorated for Christmas and two days later we attend the Lighting of the Mission Inn which is followed by fantastic Fireworks. This is a most spectacular sight! We have so much to be thankful for!
In preparation for the Christmas season our family always attended the Nine Lessons and Carols worship service at Glenn Memorial UMC which is always on the ﬁrst weekend of December. This service is so lovely and ﬁlls you with peace and joy.
Our family always attended the Christmas Eve service at Suwanee United Methodist Church. We continue this tradition whether we are in Seminole, Florida where our youngest son, Bryan, and his family live or in Suwanee. Jim ﬂies in to be with us. This year everyone will be coming to Suwanee, including Jim’s ﬁancee, Katie! We will attend SUMC Christmas Eve Service to worship together and rejoice in the birth of Jesus.
Then it is time to get ready for Santa’s visit by listening to the poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and putting out cookies and milk for Santa and of course carrots for the reindeer. Tired children are put to bed so visions of Sugar Plums can dance in their heads knowing that they are wrapped in the love of the Christ Child and their family.
– Caren Burnette
The Perdue Family
Years ago, on December 23, I decided to call some neighbors at the last minute and have a “come as you are” afternoon party, figuring that most were done with shopping, decorating and cooking and might like a break. It was delightful! About 10 people came over to the house and we all spent a couple of relaxing hours together, sharing food, spirits and the joy of Christmas. The tradition continued and transformed into what we now call “The Eve of the Eve”, a GIRL’S ONLY (sorry, fellas) gathering at my house with only ONE condition: come in your pajamas, bring a bottle of champagne or OJ, and we will cook the brunch! The group grows every year with friends and friends-of-friends, family, and my daughters. For me, it is the start of what Christmas is all about with celebration of life, friends and immeasurable LOVE. We have even been known to burn stuff from the past year in the fire pit outside, looking forward to the new year ahead! I hope that we can continue this tradition always!
The Smith Family
One of my particularly favorite Christmas traditions is the dreaded attic gift. After years of urging our four grown daughters to reclaim all the treasures they could not part with but would not take to their respective homes, I started making annual raids in their childhood rooms and the attic. I troll through the treasures and carefully wrap a gift for each of them. On Christmas Eve the gifts are opened amidst a lot of laughter and teasing and taken to their new homes. It has helped clear our attic, and we all enjoy the reappearance of cheerleading uniforms, student council campaigns, old school pictures and all of the other milestones of our family.
– Linda Curtis Smith
We have a tradition started by our adopted grandmother (Mrs. Comfort born in Atlanta in 1900) who used to be our next door neighbor. After her husband died we had her over for Christmas. The next year we moved and she still visited every Christmas for a week. She would travel all over the world and buy small trinkets that she collected throughout the year. She would wrap them individually and put them in a bag. She called it the “Grab Bag.” It would be passed around to each person and we would take a present out and pass it along until the bag was empty, then open each one and show them off. They would be anything from a jar of jelly from France to a polished rock from Switzerland. I still have many items I got when I was a child almost 50 years ago. Although she has passed away we still carry on the tradition.
Our traditions are very simple but all about family! The traditions involve my sister Holly Tickle’s family, my brother Chuck Scott’s family and my family. We have all lived in Suwanee for over twenty years! My parents also join us from Austell. For Thanksgiving, each family is assigned a side dish or dessert and we all gather at Holly’s house to enjoy dinner and conversation. We do a “cousin Christmas gift exchange” which involves nine cousins that have all grown up together. After our Thanksgiving meal, they each draw a cousin’s name and are allowed to spend the amount that we decided on for that year. This year it is $20.15. They have a blast finding the perfect gifts for each other! We gather again the day after Christmas and the cousins exchange gifts and the adults have a white elephant gift exchange and donate money towards Haiti Child Sponsorship – a school in Haiti that my parents started! Our family tradition is all about being together and reconnecting as we disconnect!!
The Maxwell Family
Two years ago we started a tradition of adopting a local family for Christmas. We spend time together selecting decorations and gifts for a family in need. My husband and I love to see the excitement on our girls’ faces as they search for the “perfect” gift for a child, like themselves, whose family might not be able to buy them gifts this year. The girls are learning to put themselves in another’s shoes and to have compassion for another person in a different, often more difficult, situation. And for them to see that same excitement on a child’s face when they give them their gift, and the warm fuzzy feeling they get – this is the Joy of Giving. To think of and give of oneself for others, that is the deeper meaning of Christmas.