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Three Engstrom Family Traditions

Thirty+ years ago I started buying three ornaments the day after Christmas when they were on sale. These would be a surprise for my three children next year when we decorated the tree. Since we had two boys and a girl, I had to be sure I found matching ornaments that represented each. My favorites are skiing bunnies, two boy bunnies (one dressed in green and one in blue) and a girl bunny dressed in red. These and their companions are now in storage in a box labeled Family Ornaments.

The Santa house is born!

When our first grandchild, Mookie, was born 10 1/2 years ago I wanted her to know the magic of Christmas. I wanted something she could understand at a young age. I wanted it to be bright and festive, so I focused on a Santa theme for our home. I never felt Santa took the place of Jesus, just added a bit of frivolity. So, my tree is decorated entirely, yes entirely, with Santas – many representing family members: a fishing Santa for Grandpa; a surfing Santa for one uncle, and a techie Santa for another; a baseball and golfing Santa for the kids’ dad; even dog and cat Santas for the pets. My entire house is decorated with Santas, even Santas representing the colleges we all attended. This year Mookie and her three siblings helped decorate the tree and enjoyed asking  which Santa represents whom.

santa 1 santa 2 santa 3

Blessedly, my grandchildren attend Sunday school and I talk with them often about Jesus and His birth. Their parents and I have beautiful Nativity scenes in our homes. Perhaps when the children get a bit older, I will retire my Santas and decorate only with Nativity scenes (harder to find, though). Or, I may unwrap the family ornaments and use them. I’m not sorry I decorate with Santas. I’ve talked with God about this, and I think He’s okay with it. He knows my heart.

I have six grandchildren now. God has truly blessed me. And, it’s so exciting to see their faces light up seeing all the red Santas on the tree and the others in my house. I want them to remember Grammy’s house as the Santa house. Then, I will remind them about Jesus’ birth and the true story of Christmas. Santa is just fun, Jesus is what life on this earth is all about. Yet, both are givers of gifts. One the silly, fun gifts, the Other the gift of precious life.

treePerhaps my very favorite tradition happens when we have our semi-annual holiday party between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The invitation requests each guest bring a wrapped ornament with a tag explaining its significance to their family. As guests enter the party they drop their ornament in a big basket by the door, and as they leave they take one from the basket. It’s a fun exchange and almost always results in a perfect surprise. One year a neighbor who is a pilot brought a tiny airplane ornament. By pure chance our son who had recently purchased his own airplane got it! Now that’s serendipity! The Day family in my novella Her Candy Cane Christmas* shares this tradition. Read the story to find out what ornament Noelle picks. And, like our family, they serve Honey Baked Ham soup; but unlike ours, they skip the tradition of Swedish Glögg, my hubby’s specialty.


About the Author

bonnie_headshotBONNIE ENGSTROM, is a freelance writer, former newspaper columnist, wife, mom and grandmother. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with Dave, her psychologist husband of over fifty years, and Sam and Lola, their dogs. Her favorite genres are romance, mystery, and ‘fun’ animal stories.  You can learn more about Bonnie at her website http://bonnieengstrom.com/  Her Candy Cane Christmas is available at Amazon on Kindle or in print.