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Christmas Traditions Secret Ingredient…

Is it the sweet taste of freshly baked treats? Is it the crackling of the yule log playing on your TV? Is it the twinkle of Christmas lights in your neighborhood? Or is it the people you share these traditions with?

This month, we asked staff members to share their Christmas traditions with you. We hope you enjoy reading them and remembering that the secret ingredient to any tradition is the people you share it with. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas as you spread the love of Jesus this season!


When my brother and I were younger, we had a fake tree that we would help my dad set up. We would put all the branches on along the bottom, working our way up to the top. The top of the tree was pretty big, and my brother and I used to argue about who would get to put it up, as well as who would get to put up the star. In an attempt to alleviate the arguing, my dad decided we would take turns. One year I would put the top of the tree on, then my brother would put on the star, and the next year we would switch. This year is my first year with a child of my own, so we don’t have any traditions set as of yet, but we would like to go to church on Christmas Eve, go home and open a present—which we plan to be new pajamas for each member of the family—then make homemade pizza, watch a Christmas movie or two while eating popcorn, and wait for Santa to visit! - Alyssa Akerman, Front Desk Administration

For the past several years our Christmas tradition starts a few days before Christmas. The Christmas tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving. The kids and our dogs have their picture taken with Santa. On Christmas Eve we go to the evening service at Beautiful Savior. Afterwards, we have a full house with some of the grandparents and extended family over for dinner and goodies. Christmas morning is spent leisurely waking up, opening presents and having a homemade breakfast. In the afternoon, we head over to another grandparent's house for lunch. Merry Christmas! - Kate Pegg, Child Development Center Lead Teacher

When our boys were young, our tradition was to go to a tree lot and pick out a tree together. As our boys have grown up and married (two of the three are out of state), we now work around the different schedules to try to get all of us together. So, this year we are celebrating Christmas on December 8. - Diane Kosloske, Front Desk Administration

I have many, many, many favorite traditions of Christmas; it’s hard to choose what to share! On Christmas Eve my parents and brothers would decorate the tree, enjoy a delicious fondue dinner, and attend a candlelight service. Before we could decorate the tree, we each needed to find a hidden present in the tree first. The gift was always an ornament, which would start the tree decorating. Our aunts, Fran and Theresa, would spend time with us and have a couple gifts for us to open. Every year my godmother, Aunt Fran, would give me an angel ornament. Each one has its own uniqueness—some are from Hawaii and made of shells, others are made of beautiful colored glass or other mixed materials. There is even an ornament that is also a kaleidoscope! Since then, time has passed, families have grown, and our traditions have changed...but Dad, Mom, Jeffrey, Jared, Joshua, Aunt Fran, Aunt Theresa…I love you all, and I’m so thankful to have made (and continue to make) so many great Christmas memories with you! – Julie Betterman, Communications & Website Specialist

Over the last 8 years or so, one of the most enjoyable traditions in the Johnson household has been the making of homemade Christmas gifts. Originally, the idea was to reduce the emphasis on buying gifts. Family members draw names in August and then at Christmas these gifts are set by the fireplace to be opened once all other gifts are unwrapped. This has become a highlight of Christmas because of the time, effort, and love that has gone into them. In fact, this year our grandson Quade will be joining the process. – Bill Johnson, Director of Faith Formation

When our girls were little, we decided to make homemade ice cream a Christmas Eve tradition. We would even bundle up and take turns cranking the ice cream freezer on the front porch. In more recent years, we’ve opted for the plug-in variety of ice cream maker, but we still have fun choosing a flavor or two to try out! – Amy Niemann, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries

Our pre-Christmas traditions include digging out the lights and sitting in the garage trying for an hour to figure out how all the lights that had been neatly wrapped up after last Christmas have turned into one big knot over the summer. Any thoughts or advice are welcome at this point! Then I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a dozen times before Christmas (not exaggerating here), because I can so relate to the "what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong" theory in life. As we get closer to Christmas, my wife Sheryl, our three kids—Derek, Savannah, and Olivia—and I drive around and look at lights. A home a few blocks away has over 20,000 lights, as well as an “eye spy” game to play. We try to see who can find all the decorations listed in the game the fastest. On Christmas Eve we head to 4:00 mass all dressed up while dinner is starting to cook. After honoring our Lord's birthday, we drive around to look at the glowing lights again and head home for a candlelight dinner that everyone has had a hand in preparing: crab legs, prime rib, ham, garlic mashed potatoes, corn biscuits, and cheesecake. No cell phones are allowed during dinner! After we all help clean up, it's to the tree for gift opening. Afterwards, we all choose one Christmas movie to watch while cozying up under blankets. Many of us don’t stay awake for the entire movie, so after we wake up and pretend to have watched it all, it's goodnight hugs and kisses! – Dewey Vetsch, Facilities Maintenance

When I came to Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church 15 years ago, our kids were little, and we did not have much established in family Christmas traditions. The only hard and fast for our Christmas routine was making sure our kids understood that Christmas was about Jesus with the focus more about giving and not getting. It was hard to get into Christmas Eve with extended family, because I was busy at church on Christmas Eve. One year, after getting home from greeting families at worship, I decided to make daddy’s special French toast and bacon. I am not sure there was anything too special about the actual French toast or the bacon. Our kids were still pretty young, so we had breakfast for supper because it was quick and easy. Then we gathered around the tree to open gifts. I didn’t know then just how special that French toast and bacon would become. 15 years later, I am still working at Beautiful Savior...I am still here on Christmas Eve...and we still have special French toast and bacon for supper. I cherish every year we get to do it. I know someday life circumstances will change and new traditions will be born, but Jesus will always be at our center. – Jim Holmlund, Director of Business Administration & Operations

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a little girl growing up in Brooklyn Center was getting all dressed up to take our once-a-year trip to downtown Minneapolis. My parents and all four of us kids would hop in the station wagon and head to Dayton’s. We walked through the 8th floor Christmas display, which always seemed completely magical to me as a little girl, then we sat on Santa’s lap. Finally, we would walk across the street and have pizza at Di Napoli’s. It was the one time of year I got to order a “kiddie cocktail.” This was my favorite day of the year by far. – Kim Pieper, Sacristan

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