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Keeping Traditions

What we do every Christmas

Annie
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Annabel Heins, 7 months, will celebrate her first Christmas this December with parents Anthony and Alex Heins. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

Each Christmas, my siblings and I would dump out our stockings. At the bottom of my hand-knit stocking, a small orange waited. I didn’t eat the orange. I never did. I saved my appetite for the chocolate coins that were in there too. But it made me happy, year after year, knowing that small ball of orange would be there to greet me every Christmas morning.

Recently, I spoke to some Buzz families about their favorite holiday traditions.

Attorney Harris Stamey and his wife, Sarah, have three children, Gracie, 4, Gage, 18 months, and Piper, 6 months. The family loves collecting Christmas ornaments at all the stops they make throughout the year, such as the zoo, traveling, or even a trip to Target. Each kid also gets an ornament every birthday. Sarah dates the bottom of them. “Our tree is becoming a story, and hopefully one day, not one branch will be empty,” she said.

The family always has a traditional Christmas Day brunch with the whole family. “On Gracie’s first Christmas, we offered to host brunch. The invitation list kept growing. It became a family reunion of like 50 people in our tiny house. The downstairs was only about 800 square feet,” said Sarah, laughing.

Food is part of the family’s traditions. “On Christmas Eve, I always make a large pot of chili, and we have a chili bar with endless toppings. After dinner all the kids help us bake cookies for Santa and make reindeer food,” said Sarah.

On the other hand, Margaret Murphy and attorney-husband Billy’s three children, William, 9, Molly, 7, and Griffin, 2, won’t carry on part of Mom and Dad’s favorite holiday tradition until they’re 21. “Christmas morning, we always have sausage balls and frozen mimosas,” said Margaret. “It’s Billy’s favorite. My mom passed down her secret recipe.”

Every Christmas Eve, the family takes pictures in Christmas pajamas, and then the kids leave food outside for Santa’s reindeer. “We also read the story of Jesus’ birth with our children,” Margaret said. “We try to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas, so that the kids’ focus on Christmas morning is not just about what Santa brought.”

Teachers Melissa and Connor Cook are just now figuring out their holiday traditions. Last Christmas was daughter Molly’s first.

“There was nothing like sitting and watching your 4½ month old figure out how to open a present. Molly was way more into the Christmas tree lights and ornaments than the presents,” said Melissa. “Christmas morning is all about family sitting around and opening our stockings and Christmas gifts. I hope to continue this tradition with my own family now.” 

Commercial real estate broker Anthony Heins and his wife Alex, a realtor, are looking forward to their daughter Annabel’s first Christmas this December. Anthony recalled his own Christmas morning at 8 years old. “All I wanted was the Nintendo game, Super Mario Bros. 2,” said Anthony. “It was all I could think about.”

To his dismay, Christmas morning his brother Lee was the one who opened Super Mario Bros. 2. “I began to cry. It really doesn’t make sense why we needed two copies of the same game though, I’m sure that Alex and I will unintentionally continue the tradition of forgetting very important gifts and remind Annabel that Christmas isn’t all about what you get.” 

John McInnes, an oil and gas analyst, and his wife Deborah have large families. “There are 19 grandkids in my family,” said Deborah. “For the past eight years, we have hosted a slumber party before Christmas for my nieces. We make gingerbread houses, have talent shows, sing karaoke.” 

Going all out on the Christmas decor is also part of their Christmas. “John’s mother [Missy McInnes] loves Christmas more than anything in the world. In fact, we are actually convinced she is Mrs. Claus. She decorates every inch of their home with decor, light-up toys, Lynn Haney Santa [figurines], and four live trees. It is truly a child’s heaven,” said Deborah.

They also never miss church on Christmas Eve. “My family always attends the Christmas Eve service [at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church], and afterwards we have a big dinner at my parents’ house. My mom spends the whole week before making everything, and it is the most delicious homemade meal,” said Deborah. 

Then, the family rides around Tanglewood in two horse-drawn carriages (from A to Z Events), bundled up, looking at the lights, singing carols. They may not be the Tabernacle Choir, but to their family, Deborah says, the carols sound just as sweet.

  • Gracie Stamey

    Gracie Stamey, 4, holds her first Christmas tree ornament, a rattle. She and younger siblings Gage, 18 months, and Piper, 6 months, are given ornaments on their birthdays every year. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

  • Mollie McInnes

    Mollie McInnes, 21⁄2, enjoys a Christmastime tradition, a slumber party with her cousins. They make gingerbread houses, sing karaoke and have talent shows. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

  • Molly Murphy, William Murphy, Griffin Murphy

    Murphy siblings Molly, 7, Will, 9, and Griffin, 2, always read the story of Jesus’ birth together on Christmas Eve. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

  • Gracie Stamey
  • Mollie McInnes
  • Molly Murphy, William Murphy, Griffin Murphy

More photos

Gracie Stamey

Gracie Stamey, 4, holds her first Christmas tree ornament, a rattle. She and younger siblings Gage, 18 months, and Piper, 6 months, are given ornaments on their birthdays every year. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

Mollie McInnes

Mollie McInnes, 21⁄2, enjoys a Christmastime tradition, a slumber party with her cousins. They make gingerbread houses, sing karaoke and have talent shows. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

Molly Murphy, William Murphy, Griffin Murphy

Murphy siblings Molly, 7, Will, 9, and Griffin, 2, always read the story of Jesus’ birth together on Christmas Eve. (Photo: www.stpimages.com)

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