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Merry Christmas Eve, belles! From the bottom of our hearts, we want to wish you all the peace, joy, and love you can hold, and time to celebrate with the ones who matter most to you. Before we sign off, we wanted to share a few of our favorite Christmas traditions and plans…

North Carolina Christmas wedding by Meredith Perdue

Lara: My favorite family Christmas tradition is listening to the Alabama Christmas album. I have such great memories of singing each song as we decorated the tree or cooked a holiday meal. This Christmas, Ari, Grace and I will be here in Chapel Hill for our first Christmas with just our little family. Ari is on call on Christmas, so we are making the most of it! The following week, however, we are headed to Boca Raton to see Ari’s parents and then to my hometown of Pensacola, FL, to see my family. We are calling it the “Tour of Grandparents 2013.” Gracie is just excited to see all (13) of my mom’s kitties!

Nicole: My favorite Christmas tradition growing up was opening one gift on Christmas Eve. It was always holiday-themed pajamas for me and my sister. We’d wear them to bed that night, but not after choosing which cookies (we baked sooo many) we’d leave for Santa. This year, Taylor and I are trying to visit both of our families within his short vacation schedule. We’ll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my mom and step dad and plan to FaceTime with the Tennessee family (my sister, my new brother-in-law, their puggie and the new in-laws). Then, we’ll drive to Taylor’s family in Virginia for Christmas night and his big family dinner the day after.

Lisa: I’m spending a very non-snowy Christmas in the Lone Star State with my parents and siblings. It’s hard to believe that this will be my last Christmas without Dave there! We go to Mass on Christmas Eve and then head home to break opłatek (a Polish tradition), eat a fish dinner, and watch the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol. My parents have watched it every Christmas Eve since they were dating! The tradition I’m perhaps the most excited for is one we started a few years ago while living in Qatar: Christmas dinner gumbo. Some friends from Louisiana shared their recipe with us, and it’s become a delicious holiday highlight for my family. Most of all, I’m excited to hug my parents, spend lots of time laughing with my siblings, and show my sister, Dana, my engagement ring for the first time!

Kristin: This Christmas Kyle and I will be making a cross-state tour to visit all of our family! A lot of food, fun, a few traditions (and some naps) will be sprinkled in along the way, including the 11th Annual Grant Family Cookie Bake-off. Being in my grandmother’s kitchen with everyone, baking and laughing, is always a highlight of the holidays. And since we will be in western NC on Christmas Eve, I will get to attend midnight service at the church where I grew up — which makes my heart swell. There is something magical about the church lit just by candlelight (it inspired my reception departure). With the way the holiday fell this year, we will have Christmas night dinner with my parents AND Kyle’s parents all sitting around the same dining room table.

Marissa: BDK and I traditionally alternate holidays with our respective families, and this year we were supposed to be in New Orleans with BDK’s family. My growing baby bump has us grounded, however, so we’ll be spending this Christmas with my family. We’ll have a big family dinner made with love by my mama, and then wake up to watch A Christmas Story in a pajamas all day long! As for traditions, we have a boatload! Since we’ll be spending Christmas with my family, we’ll head to midnight mass. Now, while we have done this tradition for as long as I can remember, it has become one of my favorites thanks to BDK and my sister. I swear, those two can’t sit through the service without getting uncontrollable “church giggles!” We blame it on the late hour! While this might sound like a funny choice for my favorite tradition, the memories of their laughter is something I never want to forget!

Emily: I’ve actually already completed 1/3 of my Christmas this year — John and I traveled to Minnesota last weekend to see our new niece and celebrate with my parents and sisters! We’ll be on our own for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then we’re back on the road this coming weekend for Christmas in Connecticut with John’s family. I have so many favorite Christmas traditions, but my favorite from my childhood in New England is probably tramping through the snow to select a tree, cutting it down, and then decorating it with my whole family. Of course, it wouldn’t seem like Christmas without a candlelight service on Christmas Eve, something that’s always been my favorite way to celebrate.

Merry, merry Christmas, friends!

P.S. We’ll be back on Thursday to finish out the year with our Best of 2013 series!

emily Written with love by Emily
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