The Accidental Christmas Tradition

The original post, below, was written in December 2008, the year I started this blog. Now, ten years later, we are still following this “accidental tradition” despite the boys being much older. The Oldest is now 21, working, and currently in community college. The Youngest is 16 and still homeschooling.  

The date for this yearly tradition varies depending on everyone’s schedules, but it is still the main event for our family at Christmas. The picnic spread has gotten much larger (for teen appetites!) and the movie choices are very different than they used to be. In the last couple of years, I have purchased pajamas for all of us, to keep things fun.   

If you have younger children, now is the time to create a fun tradition that you can recreate each year, even when they get older. Even in their teens, when they tell you the whole thing is “dumb” — they really do enjoy it! 


Have you ever wondered how some holiday traditions have started? In many cases, the beginning of these traditions are accidental. For instance:  

The Christmas tree was a tradition started by Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert in 1838.   

Having turkeys for Christmas dinner became fashionable to eat in the UK in the 1840s and 1850s  In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which was published in 1843, the Cratchit family first had a goose, but at the end of the book Ebenezer Scrooge gives them a turkey because it was bigger and more “important.” Queen Victoria first had a turkey at Christmas in 1851. 

The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red and green plant from Mexico to America in 1828. 

Our family created our own accidental tradition, which is now held every year on December 23. It is a fancy movie night, with a picnic on the floor of the living room, complete with a red and white gingham tablecloth. There are platters with Hickory Farms sausage, cheeses, crackers, fruits, veggies with dip and popcorn chicken. The Christmas wine glasses are retrieved from the cabinet so we can all enjoy sparkling juice like royalty.

During the 2005 holiday season, my oldest son was 8 and my youngest son had just turned 3 years old. On the evening of December 23, the Youngest was begging me to watch a Christmas movie called Annabelle’s Wish (1997). Since it was also dinner time, I decided to give them a surprise movie night with their first indoor picnic. While they hung out with their dad in another room, I prepared and set out the picnic on the living room floor, then turned off all the lights but the Christmas lights and candles.

As they were called into the living room, their eyes were wide and my Youngest jumped up and down with glee. It was a fun night together as a family before we started the busy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day schedule. 

The following year, the Oldest reminded me that we had to keep our “tradition,” and provided me all the details from the previous year — just in case I had forgotten! It is amazing how you discover what things are important to your kids.

And so, the accidental tradition is a must-have event every December 23, with a Christmas picnic feast, Christmas movie of their choice, and a family snapshot. Precious memories. 

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