REAL real Christmas Traditions


We all like to post pictures and stories about quaint holiday traditions and lovely decorations. I try to do some of that, but, I also have a lot of REAL real Christmas traditions that are not so Instagram worthy.  Today, I'm sharing a few of our most repeated Felkel family non-Instagram worthy, aggressively average, real holiday traditions: So…while I love parts of Christmas, there are definitely some other parts of the holiday season that I don’t love. The Christmas season, while enjoyable at times, is also stressful and a big painful reminder of all my shortcomings (like my inability to follow a recipe). So if my joy comes from my ability to successfully navigate this holiday, which is obviously designed for Martha Stewarts and Kelly Riptas (no, wait, that’s the Rhode Island Public Transit)…Whatever that crazy, I can do everything, career juggling, cute, bakey mom's name is,  my joy doesn’t come from being like her. My joy comes from spending time with Jesus. Therefore, I’m OK with admitting my shortcomings as evidenced in the following “traditions”:

  • The Annual Cursing of the Greens- This tradition started at my first Christmas with my hubby, 26 years ago. I made him go cut a live cedar tree out of a neighbor’s woods. If you don’t know, cedar trees smell awesome, but they are also very prickly and annoying to get to stand up straight. So began Brian’s annual frustration and cursing of the greens. This tradition reached it’s full glory when we had a house with a vaulted ceiling and huge picture windows that demanded a ridiculously tall tree. Which subsequently had to be held up with a super large tree stand; which meant the tree had to be held straight for 5 or 6 agonizing minutes by an impatient pre-adolescent boy. Inevitably, whichever son had this unfortunate task would get tired of holding the tree still and decide to see how little effort he could extend. This led to many great memories of cursing, frustration, and some crooked trees. (followed by the annual argument about the cursing…2

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  • The Annual Realization that I don’t really enjoy baking. Every year, someone invites me to a cookie exchange. Every year, I really try to follow a recipe but they are soooo boooring. There is like no place for creativity and they take sooo long...then, for some reason, every year my cookies are a flop. (Except my chocolate chip ones; they are very forgiving thanks to the excessive amount of chips and the minimal amount of cookie…but cookie exchange ladies aren’t impressed with chocolate chip cookies.)

  • The Annual Panic Attack at WalMart-I don’t know why it always happens at WalMart. Perhaps because WalMart has sooo much crap. Therefore, when I go to WalMart I have to buy 20,000 things for the 10,000 things that I am doing and the insanity of it all hits me. Then, I begin to freak out. I handle this freak out in several different ways, including: laughing at everything; giving up and leaving (only to return and have a bigger panic attack later); spending an hour stressing over a simple purchase like cotton swabs (are the great value brand really a better buy? Would that Kelly chick really use the cheap ones to paint holiday ornaments?); or talking way too much to total strangers (and people that try to pretend they don't know me!).                                                                                                                                          My favorite panic attack remedy was when I decided to dance to the rhythm of the Salvation Army bell ringer's ringing. Luckily, she was very bored, found it funny and joined in, or I would have just seemed crazy!


  • The Semi-Annual*, I miss my daddy and don’t know why I’m living in Rhode Island breakdown: Obviously, this tradition started 7 years ago when I moved to Rhode Island. When I first break out the Christmas music, I think about my family and how much I miss them. I remind myself that I’m blessed to have family I miss and I try to focus on the positive. Still, I have moments of wallowing in “woe is me, I’m a Southerner and people here talk funny”…lol (*Also happens each year when it is still snowing in March.)




  • The Lament over the lack of enough stuff: Yeah, so sometimes, believe it or not, I look at ads and I want more STUFF. It’s actually a big battle for me. Generally, I try to make myself focus on the positive. I really like all the stuff I have…until I look at all of the stuff I don’t have.

  • The Annual “Your problems aren't special" speech- this happens anywhere from 4-11 hours into our 14 hour car trip to visit family. Someone will complain and I will give a very inspirational speech about dealing with stress in productive ways. I lovingly and eloquently  point out that 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "no trial or temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man." so whoever just had the audacity to complain needs to realize that everyone ever created has hated long trips. How do you think Mary felt? She was PREGNANT! And on a donkey. A DONKEY!!!!  You aren't pre-selected for special suffering. This is life and it's messy!"  Then everyone in my family is inspired for the rest of their lives!  At least, that is how I feel like the speech goes. It probably comes across more like “shut-up. I’m more miserable than you!”


  • The Annual reminder that I obviously need a “quiet time”- I freely admit to people that I battle anxiety and depression. Sometimes, people will argue with me and say things like “You are one of the most positive people I know…” And the truth is, I do battle these things often, but I win! One of my most important “weapons” in this battle is my (almost) daily quiet time where I read the Bible, write out prayers and try very hard to be quiet and listen to God. Every year at Christmas, I let some seemingly urgent task take me away and, after a few days of this, I get to be a nagging, frantic,….witch with a capital B. Somewhere in the process, I know that this isn’t who I want to be and I take a break and ask God to help me be the person I deeply want to be. And I survive another messy Christmas, with more good memories than bad.


I hope that you find joy and laughter in all the wonderful messiness of Christmas!