WELLLLLL I’m back in Chicago, though you would have thought the airline wanted otherwise…. ::Cough 3 hour delay cough:: but that is neither here nor there. In honor of the celebratory weeks going (check out the previous few posts for recaps!), I thought that the Friday Five post would be perfect for today: Favorite Holiday Traditions. But I had too many, so we are going to talk about my favorite Childhood traditions, and then my 5 favorite new traditions!
Holiday Traditions from Childhood
Christmas Service at Church
When I was younger, we would go to the children’s service, which was a little earlier in the afternoon and included a children’s sermon and also the giving of little bells to kids for them to ring like banshees. My mom would pilfer the bells. We have a collection. When they started trying to “liven” it up by having someone dressed up as a piece of hay that the Baby Jesus had lain on, we moved on from that to the Jazz Service, which was way shorter, way cooler, better music.
There was always a big family brunch (for Mom’s side of the family) at the Driving Club (we are so Southern), and a few times, at certain people’s houses. This was the annual “forced family fun” outing, where you would be reminded of an entire family tree en route and then go to town on Shirley Temples, butter ham biscuits, and ice cream sundaes during. In you white tights and party shoes, of course.
Christmas Eve evening, we would make our rounds at the holiday parties thrown by various friends (after eating plenty of snacks and “Jesus Birthday Cake” at church. Plus, they always had Chex Mix and Krispy Creme #winning. Later years, as the friends/relatives stopped doing parties or whatever, we started going to a big Christmas Eve Dinner right after church. You know that I scouted that out and picked where we would go. DUH.
Christmas Day Schedule
My parents created a genius rule that anything that was unwrapped was fair game–our stockings, and the chosen presents (like a new model horse barn, some video games, CDs, etc) that were in our “spots.”I spent much of this time listening to new CDs and watching my brother play video games. But we couldn’t unwrap anything, and we couldn’t wake up our parents until 9. Then, with hot cocoa/tea in giant mugs, Dad would dole out the goods. Then brunch with orange or cinnamon rolls after. Later, this was swapped to breakfast before, presents after. The rest of the day was ours until dinner, when we got to enjoy Force Family Fun Event Number 2.
Christmas Day Dinner
This was for my mom’s immediate family, and until I was in high school, we hosted it (the “rule” was that the sibling with the youngest offspring hosted, which was me, and the next in line didn’t live nearby, so still me until the next grandchildren were procured). We did the whole dinner thing for a long time, until one year we decided to do appetizers and desserts–chat it up over apps, sit down to dessert. We ordered from the nicest catering places, so stuff was always top notch, and Dad manned the “bar.” So while the day was mostly ours, we did have to do a major clean up and de-dog-hair-ify. Also get out the fine linen and fine china. And clean the bathroom.
Turning a room in the house into a wrapping war zone.
Stockings for the horses (and presents for barn friends)
Going to buy pottery from Mom’s friend Helen Choi–who I thank for my love of mulled apple cider spices and who also has made it impossible to imagine the holidays without that scent
Picking out the tree, decorating the tree and the house while listening to holiday music
My dad watching A Christmas Story ad nauseum and driving my mom nuts (more so in the later years)
My grandparents visiting (depending on whose turn it was (they were divorced, and so traded off), playing Euchre with my grandparents, brother, and dad.
Until we were about 10, reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with my dad, setting out cookies for Santa with Mom, and then being locked in our rooms (not really, but essentially).
Obviously, many of these traditions are now just memories, but they were and are incredible memories that have left an indellible mark on who I am and how I experience the holidays. Do I go to church any more? No. Do I go to holiday parties thrown by family in my white tights and party shoes? No.
But Alex and I are making new memories of our own, with these as the back drop:
5 Traditions for our New Family:
Decorating to holiday music after “Thanksgiving”
Panettone French Toast “Christmas” morning with all the lights and music on
Stockings and presents after
Movies–Elf, and–it seems to be becoming the pattern–the latest Hunger Games in theaters with sushi after!
Holiday workout (hey, it’s his day off, you know he is going to take advantage!)
With the nature of Alex’s job, we have to be flexible–this year we will be celebrating in earnest on Christmas Eve. But regardless, I am just glad to have my family around me.
Happy Holidays to all, and a Happy Weekend as well!
What were your present unwrapping rules as a kid? I think my parents’ rule was pretty genius!