40 Years of Christmas Memories and Traditions.

December 21, 2016 |  by  |  Branded Content, Featured Story

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Tylenol and the #HowWeFamily campaign. The thoughts, opinions and traditions are all mine.

As you know, we’re teaming up with TYLENOL to celebrate all the different ways people family during the holidays, and to share #HowWeFamily. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and I’m sure that I’m not alone in that sentiment. The 25th of December and the few weeks preceding it have always brought the best out in people. Everywhere you go there’s a feeling of humanity in the air.

People seem to be gentler, kinder and overwhelmingly polite. Street lights are dressed with holly and garland, department stores carry the tunes that have been sung by carolers for decades and if we’re lucky enough, snow piles up on the street corners, with kids building snowmen and forts and sledding until their clothes are soaked through.

My first horse photobomb.

Sledding with my brother Eric circa 1984.

We bake thumbprints and sugar cookies, help our neighbors shovel their driveways and give a smile to the man or woman ringing the bell in front of the red Salvation Army bucket at the grocery store as we rifle through our pockets for anything we can offer.

These have always been a constant for me over the last 40 years, but there are also a few special traditions and little things that I remind me of my childhood and beyond – things that I’ve made an effort to carry into adulthood, as well as pass on to my children, in an effort to make it as magical for them as it was for me.

We would spend hours stringing cranberries and popcorn.

As a child, the weekend after Thanksgiving was one that we’d certainly look forward to. Me and my brothers would pile into my dad’s work truck and head over to our neighbor’s Christmas tree farm. We’d pull the tree saw from the bed and begin hiking into the field, looking for that perfect tree to drag back to the house while mom greeted us with the smell of hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies baking away in the oven.

We’ve bounced back and forth between a real tree and an artificial one over the past few years, but the kids focus is solely on hanging (breaking) as many ornaments as possible, as quickly as possible. And on occasion, we’ve had to get tough and take necessary precautions. Everyone remembers #treegate – right?


My wife carried her own childhood traditions into our family and one in particular that we all love and get excited for is decorating wooden birdhouses with her Memaw and Pop each year.

Every year they get more and more unique.

A dozen cousins will gather around the long table and choose from a bounty of different candy that’s been collected since Halloween, smear on the icing and go to town, decorating their own houses with individual flare.

During the week before Christmas, we always visit Santa, just like my wife and I did as children.


What begins as an early fear evolves into pure love. There’s nothing quite like watching the smile on their little faces as they whisper their wish lists in Santa’s ear, while asking where the big guy parked his reindeer.

They keep multiplying!

As we head home, we remind the littles that this season isn’t always about ‘getting’ gifts… it’s more about ‘giving’.

One of our favorite traditions that we never skip is visiting the Children’s Hospital at Emory. We load up a car or two with as many gifts as we’ve collected throughout the year and ask the kids to walk them in with us. We explain to them that everyone has different circumstances, however at the end of the day, we’re all the same. This small offering might really help another child their own age have the best Christmas ever…

Delivering toys to the tots at Emory Children’s hospital with Uncle Max.

Christmas Eve finally arrives and there are only two things left to do.

We grab our scarves, gloves and hats and drive around the local neighborhoods, looking for the biggest and brightest holiday decorations we can find…

This guy takes donations for his power bill!

And as the kids struggle to keep their eyes open, we pull into the driveway with one more thing to do…

…leave cookies and milk for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer…

And as the old poem says…

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…

We’d love to know how you and your family celebrate the holidays! Do you have any favorite traditions or celebration? Share yours with us and @TYLENOL using #HowWeFamily!

From my family to yours, we wish you the very merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year!