The Bates are not your typical family, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their Christmas traditions are not exactly traditional either. Ahead of the 2015 holiday the stars of UPtv’s “Bringing Up Bates,” which is about to return for Season 3, chatted with International Business Times about their plans for Dec. 25. 

Kelly Jo and Gil Bates share 19 children. Over the years, several of their kids have been married and started having babies of their own, many moving far away from the family’s home state of Tennessee. With a handful of their offspring no longer living under their roof, Kelly Jo revealed the unique way she brings her family together to celebrate the meaning of the holiday season.

“We realize that Thanksgiving and Christmas are both big holidays for seeing family, and now that several of our children are married, we know there’s a pull to be at two places at once. To compensate, we chose a holiday that wasn’t so much in demand that we would all plan to reunite for each year,” Kelly Jo told IBT. The Bates matriarch revealed that although the family does try to get everyone together for Christmas, they have decided to make Valentine’s Day, as or they call it “I Love You Day,” their family’s main holiday. 

The “I Love You” holiday also means special gifts for Kelly Jo and Gil’s little ones. While their children receive presents from grandparents and relatives on Christmas, gift exchanges between immediate family members are held off until Feb. 14. 

kelly jo and gil bates Kelly Jo Bates (right) and her husband Gil enjoy a quiet meal together in a scene from "Bringing Up Bates." The Bates will also enjoy a meal together for the Christmas season. Photo: UPtv

“Our reasoning was based on the fact that the children received gifts from their grandparents and relatives on Christmas, and we didn’t want to overwhelm them with so many gifts at one time that they became less grateful or that it diminished the excitement they might have for the gifts others gave,” Kelly Jo explained. “We originally began exchanging gifts within our own family on a holiday that we created, which we called ‘Children’s Day.’ We celebrated it in July, since Mother’s Day was in May, and Father’s Day was in June.”

Kelly Jo said the February gift-giving tradition came about several years ago when her daughter Alyssa suggested it. “For us, it is special, because there’s no other gifts being given to and from on that holiday, so they can really focus their attention to one sibling whose name they draw for that year’s celebration.”

While every Bates member may not be home for Christmas, the reality TV brood still finds ways to celebrate. The family starts ringing in the big day the weekend before by caroling at local nursing homes and hospitals. They also enjoys a big, Christmas meal a week before the holiday, which includes roast beef over the traditional turkey. When Christmas day rolls around, they spend it visiting relatives, in-laws and close friends. 

Ultimately, Kelly Jo said the holidays are about enjoying the moment. “I guess Christmas time gives us all an excuse to slow down and enjoy the scenery and activities,” she said. “Which puts a smile on faces.”

Kelly Jo says she hopes her fans will remember to keep their own family in mind during the holidays, and every other day of the year. 

“Aim for quality time and let your family know by both your words and actions that you not only love them immensely, but also that you are incredibly proud of them. Nothing builds stability and bonding like admiration and love. Don’t get so busy or so stressed that we lose what makes us feel so blessed.”

Check back next week to find out what the Bates have planned for the New Year and what their most excited for their fans to see in “Bringing Up Bates” Season 3, which premieres Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 at 9 p.m. EST on UPtv.