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Oklahomans share their families' Christmas Eve traditions

Reading together, sharing dinners and giving back are ways these Oklahoma families celebrate Christmas Eve.
by Carla Hinton Published: December 24, 2012

Commemorating a Christmas miracle. Sharing the love of reading. Hosting a special dinner.

These are some of the ways families make Christmas Eve traditions memorable.

The night before Christmas is typically a time for special family gatherings and other holiday festivities.

Some families gather for a special meal or an early gift exchange. Others visit local neighborhoods and holiday light displays to see the twinkling Christmas lights. And many families attend Christmas Eve worship services and religious observances.

Several of The Oklahoman's readers shared their favorite Christmas Eve traditions:

Sharing Christmas joy through reading

Jan Larsen's family knows which gifts they will open Christmas Eve and what will be in those treasure boxes each year.

Larsen, who lives in the Deer Creek area with her husband, Brad, has been giving her four children two books each Christmas for the past 12 years. She said she gives a Christmas storybook and a classic book that was read to her when she was a child by her mother.

Each book includes a custom-made label with a picture of Larsen's parents and how they tried to instill a love of reading in their children.

Larsen said she is trying to do the same thing in a fun way. She said it gives her a chance to help build their family book collection and share fond memories of yesteryear about her parents.

“The book collecting at Christmas is a way to keep them alive in the children's memory,” Larsen said.

The Larsens' son, Tyler, and his wife, Jennifer, said they read the books to their children, Makenna, 6, and Brynlee, 4. Tyler Larsen said he loves the way his mother shares her love of reading and also gives him glimpses of what was important to his maternal grandparents.

“The ability to read really stems from families taking the time to read to the children,” he said.

Larsen said she has told her family about how her mother would drive 30 minutes from their Arizona citrus farm to a book mobile in the closest urban area so that they family could check out books. Larsen said some of her favorites from childhood included “Sir Kevin of Devon” and “Five Chinese Brothers” and she scoured eBay and other places to find the books to pass on to her children.

Christmas books that have been distributed over the years include “The Carpenter's Gift,” “Cowboy Night Before Christmas” and, of course, the Dr. Seuss classic “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Meanwhile, Brad Larsen is in the book-giving mode this Christmas. He said he has collected several vintage Bibles, some dating back to the late 1500s and early 1600s, that he plans to present to his children and their families Christmas Eve.

Giving back

Nicole and Tim Knox, of Tulsa, will start a new Christmas Eve tradition.

Nicole Knox said they plan to present snacks to families whose children are in the critical care unit at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center at Christmas.

Knox said they know all too well what it is like to have a child in a life or death battle at the hospital.

She said last Christmas Eve, the family's doctor made a home visit to see their son, Judah, who was then 11 months old and battling strep throat. The doctor said he thought the child had bacterial meningitis and sent the couple to the hospital where the boy could be cared for.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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