Ever since Ginger was little Christmas was always in their own home, a tradition that continues to this day in the Walker house with Taylor & Cole waking up and running downstairs to see what Santa has brought. Over the years they have added some new traditions they picked up along the way, deployment traditions, and those that will continue for years to come.
Before the holidays even begin, it’s no surprise that Ginger and her family are giving back. In preparation for the holidays, each family member is asked to make room for clothes and toys that may arrive. Each child picks toys that another child may love as much as they did, to pass on to someone who may not have as much as they do. They pack them all up and donate the toys/clothes in advance of the holiday. In addition to shopping for family members, they also shop for someone that they do not know so a family will have presents under their tree too.
“When our children were young there were 2 years where my husband was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Those years were not as easy but we tried to keep our family together by spending time on Skype. We held a countdown with Hershey Kisses where one of the jars ended at Christmas and the other finished the countdown to the day of Daddy’s return home. We kept the tree up until he arrived home and held a few presents to celebrate because for us the holidays were not really about the gifts, but about being together.”
Their family also had the unique opportunity to live in Roma when the current Pope was selected and to attend Christmas Mass at the Vatican. “No matter where we lived our family still kept the same simple traditions but now added a new one… La Befana, who comes on Jan 6th with treats for the kids as long as they were good! We also added the Elf on the Shelf to our traditions and still to this day he moves each night with the stealthiness of a ninja! (provided he does not forget!!)”
On Christmas Eve, they incorporate traditional fish at dinner, spread reindeer food outside on the yard, track the Big Guy on NORAD, and leave cookies and milk for Santa. “We also open one present that someone in our family picks for the other. I will admit, sometimes we do open more than just one, but who’s counting? We also hang stocking for all family members, 2 legged and 4 legged as well! This will be our first Christmas without our dogs but we are hopeful to have a new puppy in the next few months to continue our stocking tradition.”
Christmas morning is the typical flurry of chaos… each kids has a small tree in their room and the elf usually leaves a small gift to start with! Then the race to the first big tree happens, but not without a large cup of coffee for the parents first! They play holiday music, open presents by the big tree, followed by snowman pancakes in preparation for the Children’s Tree decorated with the special ornaments made through the years as well as the ones they received each year prior. “It is under this tree that Santa may have left a special gift.”
“The one thing we realized, no matter where we lived, or even if we were separated by many miles, the holidays are always something that meant family, love and home.”
Wishing you all Happy Holidays!
The Walker Family
(Dave, Ginger, Taylor & Cole)