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Christmas Traditions, by Molly Kate Gray


A much beloved angel atop a Christmas tree.

Caroling through the neighborhood as the snow falls.

Opening a box containing new jammies for Christmas morning….


What?  Your family doesn’t open Christmas PJs?  Somehow I’m not surprised.  My family’s Christmas tradition was born out of necessity.  Back when my two children were little, we had an abundance of excitement for Christmas morning, and a definite lack of gifts.  One of my daughter’s preschool friends had been kind enough to share the knowledge of her family’s tradition with my daughter – every Christmas Eve everyone got to select one present from under the tree to open.  I’d tried to convince my little one that tradition belonged to her friend’s family, but she wasn’t convinced.  If Hadley could open a present on Christmas Eve, so could she.

I’d seen Hadley’s tree.  Presents overflowed and threatened to take over a quarter of the room.  Our tree wasn’t so fortunate.  Finally, though, we agreed that perhaps we could each open a single gift, but I had to select which one.  Part of me was a little excited, since I knew the boxes I’d chosen contained new pajamas that just happened to color coordinate.  They’d look awesome for Christmas morning pictures.

So they opened the boxes.  Squealed in excitement.  And a Christmas tradition was born.  Even now, when my daughter is fast approaching the end of her high school career, the boxes containing the new pajamas are as eagerly anticipated as any other gift they’ll receive on Christmas morning.  (And if you have any doubts, just ask me about the year I forgot the jammies.  In my defense, we closed on a new house on Christmas Eve – pajamas just weren’t at the top of my priority list.  Thank goodness for a store nearby that just happened to be staying open late when my daughter casually mentioned that none of the boxes under the tree had that “Christmas Eve look.”)

While we borrowed a bit of Hadley’s tradition, our family gave it our own twist.

Towns and communities are each equally unique.  No matter how similar one town is to the next, their Christmas tree lighting is never identical.  One neighborhood close to my house has Christmas hayrides through the decorated streets.  Another town celebrates with a candlelight processional through the historic downtown.

Traditions give each town its own flavor – something I try to bring to my own writing.  I often say that my setting (most often a small town in Texas) is a character just as much as one of the people in my stories.  I’ve made sure that each of my towns has traditions to help set it apart from the rest.  In Small Town Secrets, Josh and Tara enjoy the lights at the Harvest Days festival.  The firefighters in Playing with Fire pass out candy in the haunted town square on Halloween.

What tradition does your family hold dear?


Molly Kate Gray's new book, Playing With Fire is available for pre-order now.

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