Scenic view of trees at camp

Staff Favorites: Christmas Traditions

by Karissa Pitaniello


Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year as we reflect on the most wonderful gift of all time- Jesus! He is the reason for the season! But, we also love to celebrate the seriously fun traditions that surround it! This month we asked our staff what their favorite Christmas traditions are. From making homemade Mexican food from scratch to celebrating Christmas “Adam” (the night before Christmas Eve), their answers did not disappoint! Read below and who knows—maybe you’ll try one of their ideas for your family this year! 

“Every year after we open presents, my mom makes homemade cinnamon rolls and we drink coffee and talk about our favorite Christmas memories over the years! We also watch ‘A Christmas Story’ on Christmas Eve!”

– Annelise ‘Smilin’ Morrison, Silverado Associate Director

“One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching Hallmark holiday movies with my family. Sometimes we play bingo while we watch (squares include things like ‘fake snow,’ ‘amnesia,’ and ‘sipping hot chocolate’), but we always, always laugh at how ridiculous these movies are! I typically end up laughing until I can’t breathe. It’s the best!” 

– Valerie ‘Ouch Potato’ Morby, Social Media and Copy Manager

“Our family always eats Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve and Waffle House after we open gifts on Christmas morning! On Christmas night, our whole family goes to the movies together, which is simple but really fun!”

– Michael ‘Deli’ Miller, Chimney Point Men’s Director

“I LOVE going to see the Christmas lights at the Memphis Zoo! And eating brunch with my family on Christmas morning.”

– Sharmaine ‘Screams’ Burton, City Team Highland Site Director

“Reflecting and meditating on the incarnation of Jesus! We are reminded of Jesus coming and entering into the world all throughout the Christmas season, and it’s so encouraging to sit and ponder God’s character that is revealed through this!”

– Dax ‘Hook Line and Keeper’ McKee, Ridge Men’s Director

“My wife grew up in El Paso, and for Christmas dinner we have homemade Mexican food—everything from scratch.” 

– Tim ‘Swanee’ Alderson, Global Director of Horsemanship

“My family takes a Polaroid picture every year, and we decorate our tree with the photos and ornaments. On Christmas morning, we love taking a big family pic buried under the wrapping paper after opening gifts. We decorate gingerbread houses and cookies as a family, and deliver the cookies to our neighbors.” 

– JD ‘Rambus’ Moore, Ranch Camp Director 

“We always made a ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ cake which was a sweet reminder of what Christmas is all about!”

– Kay ‘Sugar Plum’ Manley, Registrar

“My family celebrates Christmas Adam (the night before Christmas Eve)! After supper, we make hot chocolate and pile in the car to drive and look at Christmas lights, then we come back home to watch a movie together next to the fire, in our pajamas, and then we fall asleep under the tree!”

– Meredith ‘Mama Bear’ Ward, Bluffs Women’s Director

“Every morning during the Advent season, my family would spend time praying and reading Scripture together. My brothers and I would take turns getting to light the Advent candle of the week, read the Scripture out loud, and then hang an ornament with one of the names of God on our tree. To this day, I cannot light a candle without immediately being taken back to those moments of celebrating the coming of Christ alongside my family.” 

– Ashley ‘Banana Pudding’ Upchurch, Recruiting and Staff Support Generalist

“My family always gets Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning! We are big fans, and you can’t forget the extra icing!”

– Leah ‘Smax’ Crum, Crier Creek Women’s Director

“When I was in college, my roommate’s mom sent us a LEGO Advent calendar, and every day leading up to winter break we would build the small LEGO set for that day. Right before we would leave for winter break (which was usually a good week or so before Christmas), we would build the remaining LEGO sets, so we’d end up doing about ten days all at once!”

– Parker ‘Boomer’ Shinsky, Communications Project Coordinator

“Having lasagna dinner on Christmas Eve!” 

– Faith ‘Tumbledore’ Banford, Media Specialist

“We eat every dinner between Thanksgiving and Christmas by candlelight, listen to Kenny G’s Christmas album, and read an Advent devo. It is for sure our favorite as it slows us down during a typically fast-paced season.” 

– Chris ‘Broflex’ Boddy, Senior Director of Ministries, ETX

Posted Dec 12, 2022

Karissa Pitaniello

Content Coordinator

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