I have several family traditions that I look forward to every year, but the most memorable one dates back to my childhood. When I was young, I used to get a call from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. The Santa Claus — or so I thought. I just couldn’t believe that Santa took time out from delivering presents to call me and my sister. I was so thrilled. He would always remind us to get to bed or else he wouldn’t come to deliver presents. The conversation was never very long because Santa was very busy! I found out when I was older that it was my godfather playing the part of Santa on the other line. This made me curious about other people’s traditions, so we asked readers to send in some of theirs. Here are some fun ones.

All illustrations by Libby VanderPloeg.

‘Surprise’ Christmas

My family celebrates “family Christmas” before the actual day of. My parents didn’t want to lug our gifts on the 14-hour road trip to see family, so they would surprise us with Christmas one Saturday in December. My sister and I would wake up to see that Santa had come and all the gifts were under the tree, and the surprise made it even more magical. Plus, on Christmas Day we weren’t worried about gifts, just being with family. Now it’s not a surprise, but we still celebrate early.
— asiancarpczar via tumblr

Hidden Presents

Our family of five moved into a new house one December. We had no time to get a tree, so we improvised. Christmas morning came, and Dad hid all of our presents around the house. We’ve been hunting presents ever since. Without fail, he forgets where he hides them and we spend an hour tracking down the last few.
— Bethany, Indiana

The Beercan Tree

My family and I put a beer can in the tree every year. The same beer can. The story goes that one year, my parents found the tree in a big sea of evergreens. That’s when they realized they didn’t have anything to cut it down. So they stuck an empty beer can in it. They returned with a saw, or some other tool equally good at cutting down a tree, but couldn’t find the tree. They picked another one and when they put it up at home . . . the beer can fell out!
— Danielle, N.J.

Perfect Breakfast

Before I met my husband, my family’s Christmas tradition was mimosas and my mom’s coffee cake. It’s honestly the best coffee cake you’ve ever tasted. It isn’t Christmas without that coffee cake. Since meeting my husband we’ve included his family’s breakfast tradition of going to Waffle House every Christmas morning. I love that we can seamlessly incorporate both traditions every Christmas, and so it feels both like our own Christmases and our new Christmas as a married couple.
— kthrine via tumblr