Thursday, November 3, 2016

Once Upon a Crepé Paper Ball

crepe paper ball art by Traci Van Wagoner
'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.

Sleigh Riding Digital 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.

Christmas lights on, turkey in the oven, and a crackling fire in the wooden 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. We start with a prayer, helping us all to remember that Christmas is about more than just gifts and shopping and decorations. The evening's party is a birthday celebration for Christ after all. And the rolling begins!

Traci Van Wagoner illustration
Dad gives the ball a nudge to his right and the evening festivities are on! Interspersed in the wound crepé paper 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 fall out. If you get a note when the ball is in front of you, you get to read Dad's silly rhyme.

Each person gets two notes that apply to them.

Traci Van Wagoner illustrationTraci Van Wagoner illustration

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.
Art by Traci Van Wagoner
Family Christmas Sing Along while Waiting for Papa to Come Home

Traci Van Wagoner illustration 
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.

Santa Mug Color Pencil Art by Traci Van WagonerOnce the ball has been unwound, a pile of crepe´ paper lay in front of us, and a paper maché ball is revealed. All the notes have been read, presents opened, songs sang, stories told,
thanks given, now we get to bust open the paper maché ball filled with little toys and candies. Yeah!

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.


The Santa Mug illustration leads me to another Christmas tradition -- drawing on brown paper packages. That will be the next in my series of posts about Christmas traditions. Come back next week for more holiday fun.

In the meantime, 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.


A special thanks goes out to Paperless Post who offered some inspiration and a nudge for me to create this post and helped me to dive into the spirit of Christmas with their Christmas cards.


Some of my favorite Christmas books (okay I'm biased because I illustrated them) but as it turns out, they are both about Christmas traditions. Check them out and let me know what you think. I hope both will become traditional Christmas reads in your home.

Art by Traci Van WagonerArt by Traci Van Wagoner 

You can get cards and much more with my Christmas Sing Along art and other fun holiday art in my Zazzle Holiday Store. 


  1. Even though i have no Christmas memories (we're Hanukkah people) I love yours!

    1. Thanks so much, Mirka. I'd love to hear about any Hanukkah traditions you have.

    2. Mostly oily, Traci... Eight days of consuming an inordinate amount of vegetable oil, and being happy about it ;).

    3. Being someone not very familiar with Hanukkah, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you fonduing? I know about lighting candles, but that's about it. I'd love to hear more. :)