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Craig Melvin fell in love with this ‘weird’ Christmas tradition from his wife’s family

The Melvin family always remembers the reason for the season.
/ Source: TODAY

TODAY co-host Craig Melvin and his family have a sweet and unique holiday tradition: They sing "Happy Birthday" after Christmas dinner.

The tradition came from Craig's wife, Lindsay Czarniak. When Czarniak was growing up, she and her family always sang “Happy Birthday” to Baby Jesus at Christmastime.

“I remember when we were dating, she mentioned this and I thought she was joking and I sort of dismissed it,” Craig recalled in the TODAY streaming special, "Holidays in My House." “And then, all of a sudden, I show up at her grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner and after the meal was done ... they bring out this little cake.”

Craig said he warmed up to the idea.

“In fact, I would contend, if you’re not singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus and you’re celebrating Christmas, maybe you’re doing it wrong,” he said lightheartedly. “Maybe we’re not the weird ones — maybe we are.”

Craig and Lindsay showed viewers in a video shot in 2020 how they bake Christmas cookies with their son, Delano, now 8, and daughter Sibby, now 6.

Craig said he passed down the cookie-making ritual to his family with “moderate success."

While Czarniak leds the children through the no-bake recipe for “Christmas Wreath Crispies," Delano needed a reminder to remove his football off the kitchen counter and Sibby, possibly full of marshmallows, lay her head down for a catnap.

"Never a dull moment," quipped Czarniak.

Craig Melvin and his wife Lindsay Czarniak with their children, Delano and Sibby.
Craig Melvin and his wife Lindsay Czarniak with their children, Delano and Sibby.@craigmelvinnbc via Instagram

Meanwhile, Craig is happy to play backseat baker and taste tester.

"It's about the journey, right? Not the destination," he said. "The cookies don't have to be completely edible."

Related: Craig Melvin's daughter just hit a pretty big milestone

Another tradition handed down from Czarniak's Polish family is making oplatki wafers.

Each family member takes a wafer, adding a dollop of honey to their plate.

Related: Craig Melvin gets emotional about sending his daughter to kindergarten

"I remember as a kid, the more honey the better," Czarniak said. "The goal is to break the wafers with each other, and when you're doing that, you're basically giving a blessing to that family member that you love. And it means wealth and happiness and luck in the New Year."

"It's quite the reminder this year that we should all be extraordinarily grateful," Craig said, "not just for our health but grateful for all of it that we took for granted."

Craig says the holidays mean more to him than ever before.

"For me, the holiday season is always extra special, since I was a little boy," he said. "Being around family and obviously the opening of presents. But then you get older and it's like, 'Eh, Thanksgiving, Christmas, eh.' But then you have kids and you get to experience the holidays through their eyes and all of a sudden, you're a kid again."

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