Once Upon a Crepé Paper Ball

My favorite childhood Christmas memories are a family tradition created by my Dad, the unrolling of the crepé paper ball. We did this every year on Christmas Eve, and a good portion of my family still gets together and does this. I don't often get to participate now days though.

Art of a crepé paper ball a Van Wagoner family Christmas Tradition

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house, Dad is busy hiding a gift for each one of us in the green thing, closets, corners, cubbies, nooks and crannies.



Ice Skating art by Traci Van Wagoner

The sun begins to set and our breath turns frosty, it's time to head for home. We gather together from our activities of the day -- ice skating, sleigh riding, tubing, and last minute shopping, all out of the house so Dad can do his thing. Excitement shimmers in the air.



Christmas lights on, turkey in the oven, and a crackling fire in the wood stove, we sit in a circle all ten of us, Mom, Dad, three older brothers, one older sister, and three younger sisters. Excitement hangs heavy in the air. Sitting in front of Dad is a colorful crepé paper ball that holds, oh, so many possibilities.


We settle down into an excited silence, and with a twinkle in his eye, Dad begins. He gives the ball a nudge to his right and the evening festivities are on! Interspersed in the crepé paper which is wound around a paper maché ball filled with candies and toys are notes with Dad's silly rhymes. As each person rolls the ball in front of them, they hold their breath hoping to see a note. If you get a note when the ball is in front of you, you get to read Dad's silly rhyme.

Crepe Paper Ball Note One Talent Show by Traci VW
Crepe Paper Ball Note One Gift by Traci VW

Each person gets two notes that apply to them. One note instructs one of us to show off our talents with singing, playing the guitar, playing the piano, telling a story, or reading a story. The other note, we need to figure out what Dad's rhyming clues mean and search the house for our hidden present. With gusto we each get our turn to open the first present of the holiday. Who cares that it's always pajamas? Our Christmas pjs. Everything is right with the world. With a silly rhyme and a twinkle in his eye, Dad turns the evening into a magical adventure.

Crepe Paper Ball Notes by Traci VW

The last note of the evening is for Mom. We settle into a comfortable family snuggle with Christmas lights sparkling and our hearts filled with the joy of family and the Christmas spirit, and Mom takes us back. Back to Bethlehem on a cold winter night when there was no room at the inn. She reads the Christmas Story from the Bible and brings a tear or two around the room with her tender reading. My dear Mom who embodies everything that is good in this world.


Once the ball has been unwound, a pile of crepe´ paper lay in front of us, and the paper maché ball is revealed. With all the notes have been read, presents opened, songs sang, stories told, thanks given, we get to bust open the paper maché ball filled with little toys and candies. Yeah!

Personalized Santa Mugs in color pencil by Traci VW
Another Tradition -- color pencils on brown paper packages

Then we move to the kitchen for snacks and eggnog mixed in a the big punch bowl with 7-up which we drink in our own personalized Santa mugs. Cheers!


Before it's too late and before Santa can come, we put on our new jammies and Mom tucks us into bed while Dad is off doing, who knows what? ;)


As our tired eyes close, we listen to a record with a reading of The Night Before Christmas and fall asleep to sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads.

Christmas Bells art by Traci VW






I'd love to hear about your holiday traditions. Do you have something special you do for yourself or do with family or friends every year for the holidays? It's a great time to reconnect, even with a traditional Christmas card. Thanks ever so much for stopping by. I would love to learn about your holiday traditions. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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