Black holiday traditions to keep your Christmas lit

OPINION: Christmas is on Sunday, and there is nothing like celebrating the holidays with a Black family. 

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Can you believe we have reached the end of 2022 already? It’s been a time, hasn’t it? The pandemic is still raging, people are still acting like they don’t care, our student loans still haven’t been eliminated, and the price of everything has gone up. 

Still, even with all of that going on, the one thing you not gonna take from Black people is our ability to get together as a family and celebrate the holiday season. Whether it is the family you are tied to by blood or your chosen family, you know the festivities are going to be lit as the kids say. 

How lit is your family holiday party? 

I have a friend named Eboni. I have known her almost my whole life. Our fathers went to college together. Her family is like my family, and her mother throws the grandest Christmas party every year. 

This is not just your ordinary Christmas party either. She hires a harpist to come and play beautiful music during the cocktail hour. We mix and mingle and drink champagne and various other libations while the harp provides background music. Let me tell you something: getting drunk to harp music needs to be on your bucket list. I wonder if the angels pass out wine when they play the harp in heaven? 

Anyway, once everyone is good and lubed up, the harpist then accompanies us as we drunkenly sing Christmas carols. This is always my favorite part of the night because Eboni’s mom always makes me the mistress of ceremonies. 

With a tambourine in my hand (which I shake and yell “Hallelujah” really loudly after every song as if we are in church), I lead the gathered celebrants through the drunk and screwed versions of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Silent Night,” and my personal favorite, “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

You have not lived until you have seen a bunch of drunk people debate over who gets to sing/yell “FIVE GOLDEN RINNNNNNNNNNGS” at the top of their lungs. It’s a good time. 

Now, I’m not saying you need to have a harpist at your party or a Mistress of Ceremonies as dope as me, but what I am saying is you and your people can put together your own shindig and create your own yearly tradition that would be just as fun. 

Gag gifts as stocking stuffers

When we were younger, our Christmas stockings were stuffed with candies, small toys and other tiny trinkets and items that my grandparents picked out for us. Those were the coolest, and I can still taste those lollipops from See’s Candies as I type this. 

There are plenty of adults who still like to get stockings and who still believe stocking stuffers are fun, so why not make it funny and give gag gifts as stocking stuffers?

I got this idea from my Uncle Earl. Every year, he puts things like mouthwash, toothpaste, minty gum, breath mints, deodorant and the like in everyone’s stockings. It’s hilarious, and you never know what you are going to find from him in the bottom of yours. 

What exactly counts as a gag gift depends on you and your people, but make it fun! 

Binge-watch holiday movies and television shows

Peacock has just dropped “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” and all the episodes are available for streaming, so you don’t have to ask me what I am going to be doing this weekend, because I just told you. Not to mention, both “The Best Man” and “The Best Man Holiday” are also streaming on Peacock, so I get to refresh my memory and then catch up with the old crew. 

Watching movies as a family has always been a holiday tradition in my house. It’s a good way to spend quality time with the people you love, and you have so many options for things to watch since there is something on every streaming site for everyone in the family — even that one auntie who gets on everybody’s nerves ’cause she won’t shut up. 

The traditional holiday dinner never gets old

One tradition that I think all Black people can get behind is gathering together for a huge meal. Whether you do it potluck style (and walk in asking who made the greens, the macaroni and cheese and the potato salad because all of this matters) or one person handles the cooking, no one is going to turn down coming over to get a plate full of home-cooked goodness and fellowshipping with the cousins. You and your cousins can even take that walk at some point in the night — you know, the one that will make it easier for you to deal with your uncle’s never-ending stories once you get back. 

Food brings people together. There are a lot of memories tied to family food and gatherings, so this one is always guaranteed to be a hit. 

No matter how you decide to spend this weekend, just make it the best holiday you can. How that is defined is entirely up to you. 

Happy holidays!

Monique Judge

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at

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