A Martin Family Christmas
In celebration of Christmas, we interviewed some of the Martin family about their favorite holiday traditions and what makes their celebration unique. Here is what the Christmas season looks like for Jim Martin (president of Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc.), his wife Donna, and their four children, Tony, Julie, Joe, and Jackie.
What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
First and foremost, the Martin family always recognizes the true “reason for the season,” the birth of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. They do this by attending church services, listening to (and singing) festive music, observing the magnificence of Christmas lights and decorations, and ultimately by surrounding themselves with those they love. “Family time” was a recurring answer to this question as well. This special time together for the Martin family includes laughing, singing, talking, and just being together.
What does a typical Martin family Christmas look like?
As in many extended families, it can be difficult to align everyone’s schedules and annual travel plans. The Martin family is no different; every other year, they alternate their Christmas routine. Half of the time, they celebrate together on Christmas Day at Jim and Donna’s house, and the other half they celebrate the previous weekend to allow some of the children to be with their in-laws on Christmas Day. Even on busy years filled with lots of travel, the Martin family always makes sure to take the time to celebrate together as one big family.
This big family celebration always includes a few staples. The Martins enjoy a wonderful home-cooked dinner (prepared by Donna, with help from Jackie and sometimes other family members) with dishes like prime rib roast or stuffed filet, mashed potatoes and gravy, shrimp, home-frozen corn, Brussels sprouts, potato bread stuffing, pickles, rolls with butter, cheesecake, and various appetizers.
After dinner, the Martin family has a cherished tradition of singing Christmas carols together as a family. All of them, including grandchildren of all ages, gather together in the living room and sing through the book of carols while Donna plays the piano or the organ. Other family members, especially the younger kids, occasionally chime in by playing violin, or with special acting performances or readings. The “grand finale” of the evening (and a unanimous favorite tradition) is to sing “The Hallelujah Chorus” together. At the end of the night, the whole family exchanges presents. Generally, the whole celebration is filled with many smiles, laughs, and all-around happy moments.
Click the links below to watch two Christmas carols as sung by the Martin Family:
On years when the family is not together on Christmas Day, Jackie, Julie, and Julie’s sons (and sometimes other family members) typically have breakfast at Jim and Donna’s, then go in to the Salvation Army to help deliver Christmas meals to the elderly and others in the community. They spend the rest of the day playing games, doing puzzles, or watching movies.
Jim Martin summed up his family’s answers perfectly with the following comment: “Having the whole family at our house at Christmas is a day of ‘wonderful family pandemonium.’”
The below pictures are a great representation of a typical Christmas at the Martin household!
Do you have any unique family Christmas traditions?
Joe, his wife, and their six kids have a few personal family traditions. Every Christmas Eve, all eight of them have a sleepover together in the same room. They also always make it a point to read the story of Jesus’ birth together as a family.
Julie’s family enjoys the entire Advent season leading up to Christmas Day. Each evening before bed they come together at the dining room table, dim the lights, light the advent candles, read the Bible, and then eat a piece of chocolate from their Advent calendars, and pray for family and friends.
A unanimous response to this question by the entire family was “singing Christmas carols.” A fun fact about the Martins is that they are a very musical family. In fact, Lloyd and Lois Martin (founders of Martin’s), together with Jim and Donna, used to be in a singing group called The Gospel Tones! The next generation picked up the tradition as well: Julie, Joe, and Jackie have all traveled around the US and to other countries with a musical singing group called the Continental Singers. The youngest generation is following in their footsteps as well, singing and learning to play instruments.
The Martin family’s time together at Christmas, singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” while Donna plays along on the organ, is a cherished tradition. As a large family, they are able to cover every singing part, and have loved watching the young grandkids grow up over the years and join in by learning to sing along. This musicality is one of the great things that makes their family unique.
Here is a video clip of the Martin family singing their Christmas Day finale, The Hallelujah Chorus. They wanted to add the caveat that they are singing on full stomachs and with children pulling on their legs, but you can see how much they enjoy singing together.
Listen to this Christmas message from Jim Martin:
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