From hunting for the perfect tree to leaving cookies out for Santa to wearing matching pajamas, the holidays are a time when families create traditions...and memories.
The TODAY family is no exception, “Christmas was the most magical place at my house growing up,” says Dylan Dreyer.
So we asked our TODAY anchors to share: What are your favorite holiday memories?
Dylan recalls that anticipation and excitement she felt as a child racing downstairs to see presents at the foot of the tree. But there was a method to the madness. “We could not go down the stairs until my dad came down first and made the coffee…I want to pass that tradition on to Calvin.”
While gifts under the tree are often a focus, the bigger memory for many is spending time with family.
“When I was little, Christmas meant family,” Jenna Bush Hager recalls. “My grandparents brought all of us to Washington D.C. and we were all with our cousins, together.”
Sheinelle Jones agrees, adding that “gifts were just one tiny piece of it.”
When she thinks about childhood holidays, Sheinelle is transported back to a place with a heavenly scent. “We’d go to my grandmother’s house and she’d make these homemade cinnamon rolls that her mom made and when I close my eyes and think about the holidays, that was it.”
Craig Melvin also has his grandparents to thank for great Christmas memories. "We would gather at my grandma’s house and we would actually get to open the gifts from her the night before [as] a kid. It was like you’ve got two Christmases and Grandma always gave the best gifts,” Craig remembers.
For Jenna the one tradition that has stayed with her family is Mexican food on Christmas Eve. “It’s a Texas and Hispanic tradition to have tamales — you can open them like a gift!”
For Al Roker, Christmas means cutting down a fresh pine tree. “Nick and I still go out and cut the tree…there’s so much sawing and wrestling with the bow saw," he says. "But the pride and satisfaction of getting that baby up on top of the roof and tied down and saving money because it's only seven bucks a foot is a good feeling.”
For those that are introducing traditions to a new generation, the holiday season is extra fun.
“There’s one tradition that I want to reinstate with my kids,” says Sheinelle. “My grandmother took me and my sister shopping to buy gifts for our family members. The best part was going back to their house and spreading [out] all the wrapping paper. It was just [learning' the art of giving.”
“We have become that family that wears matching pajamas,” Craig says. “I used to mock people who did it but now I’ve become one of those people because the kids enjoy it so much.”
Jenna and family now celebrate Christmas at her parents' home in Texas. “My kids love it because we take truck rides and go see the cows and it’s just the antithesis of New York City,” she says.
Whether the traditions are old or new, they all agree that family and the memories made are what make it such a magical time of year.
“Now that Calvin’s old enough to understand a little bit of what Christmas is, I want to pass onto him how special family is this time of year. I want him to know that this is the time of year you just surround yourself with people you love.”