Families typically gather at Christmas to share holiday traditions and fellowship. In some cases, holiday gatherings are the only times some family members see each other, so it's important to use those opportunities to strengthen or renew connections. Family traditions may determine some of the activities you choose, however, you should also feel free to adopt new traditions to keep your gatherings fresh and interesting.
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Sharing a Meal
Christmas Day typically involves sharing a special meal; the type of food varies according to the cultural heritage of the family. Many American families include turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a popular green bean casserole.
Some families include preparing the meal as part of the festive activities, with everyone gathering in the kitchen to catch up on news as they carry out their culinary tasks. Even clean-up activities after the meal can provide an opportunity to visit with each other.
Many families exchange gifts on Christmas Day, usually placing them under the tree until it's time for the exchange. Even when economic times are hard, few families completely do away with this long-held tradition, which they may instead opt to minimise.
Family gatherings tend to trigger the urge to share old and new family stories, especially if it's rare for everyone to get together. This storytelling takes on an added meaningful dimension when filmed and archived for future generations. Their value can even be appreciated in the near future upon the loss of a family member immortalised in the footage.
Family Christmas carolling has a long history, wherein some families carol at home to entertain themselves and others take their songs "on the road," visiting neighbours to sing a carol or two at their doors. A December 16, 2007 "USA Today" article, however, notes that the popularity of this activity is not what it once was.
Many families incorporate the same classic movies that play on TV every year at the holidays, as well as special televised events like Christmas parades and football games, into their Christmas Day activities. As traditional special events, these shows are often beloved elements of a family's Christmas gathering.
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