Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Traditions

Karrots on the way to daddy's work's Christmas party today

Growing up there were a lot of traditions our family had at Christmas time. My uncle's family used to come over Christmas Eve and being able to open one gift that night. We had hot apple cider, quiche on Christmas morning, fighting on who gets the most eggnog, pumpkin pie, Christmas recitals at school, special Christmas decorations like our Precious Moments politically correct nativity scene, farting Santa, hand-made ornaments for the tree, chiming silver bells, etc.

As the season approached we'd all go and get a live tree, which had to be watered often as our cat would drink its water. As a family, we'd put Christmas music on to decorate the tree with such ornaments as Santa in the outhouse, popcicle stick nativity (triangle with characters), and shiny balls. We'd also decorate the house with lights, which we all knew needed to be done, but never wanted to help with.

My brother and I would sneak upstairs to go through our parents' closet to find "hidden" gifts for us. We would also make it a point to count the presents under the tree to see who had the most because, as we all know, the kid with the most gifts is the most loved (I'm rolling my eyes now!).

On the last work day before Christmas my father's company would have a Christmas party. It started at noon and people would dig into barbequed beef, chicken and hot dogs. The owner of the company lived on the property and would bring us to his green house in the back to collect as many orchids as we could fit on a piece of styrophom board. My dad would take home all the left over Sees candy and Honey Baked Ham certificates.

Every Christmas morning, my brother and I would be the first awake, checking out the new unwrapped gifts from Santa laid out under the tree, guessing which gifts belonged to who. Of course, we'd run back in our rooms or the kitchen when we'd hear our parents come down. We weren't allowed to touch them until after breakfast and they tried to teach us not to be greedy.

After our quiche breakfast we'd run to the tree with the cameras rolling and tear open all of our gifts. I would store mine in the biggest box there was and admire my loot, bringing select items with us when we visited relatives.

Most Christmases as a kid we'd have a special family Christmas at our grandfather's. The WHOLE family would come with gifts and Christmas cheer. People we hadn't seen all year, who mother would stress about getting gifts, would arrive and start where they left off last year. It was somewhat magical and a time we'd anticipate all year.

Big Red's family has their own traditions. As the holidays approached his family would all pile into their car, stuffing their faces with home-made fudge and cookies to go admire Christmas lights on neighbors' houses.

It was also a time to blow the dust off the box of their artificial tree. As a family they would add their pasta based ornaments and others they made as kids. They'd set up their hand-made nativity scene and window decals.

On Christmas morning they'd reinact the nativity story with home-made dolls of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, angels, and wisemen. The first things they'd open were their stockings followed by handing out gifts one by one. As far as Big Red remembers, his parents didn't play Santa. His dad now states that if he was going to go through all the trouble of getting the gifts then HE wanted the credit for them.

For meals his dad would make his cherry filled candy cane pastry for breakfast and at some point he'd make his eggnog. They'd have a special ham dinner and, of course, the occassional kentucky derby pie or pumpkin pie for dessert.

As a new family we get to take what traditions we want from our backgrounds and make new ones. A few traditions we've carried on consist of the artificial tree, opening stockings first, Christmas cards, Christmas party at my dad's work (as we've both worked there!) and a home-made nativity set.
Big Red holding Karrots at the work Christmas party
Since we don't have much living room, we've been using Big Red's old mini fiberoptic Christmas tree. It only holds like 10 ornaments, but it works for now. I hope to carry on my family's tradition of a REAL tree once we can fit one in and the kids are old enough to help keep it up.

Big Red's mom made us dolls of Mary and Joseph last year so we can carry on the tradition of the nativity story. I'm pretty confident we'll be receiving the set through the years as she's done the same with Big Red's sister's family.

Every year both of our families would send out Christmas letters letting everyone know what's been going on with the family in the past year. We haven't kept that up thus far, but with kids, I'm sure it'll something nice to start. We have, however, done Christmas photo cards. They've sorta worked as announcements as well for both our marriage and baby.

Last year Big Red and I decorated stockings for each other. This year we continued the tradition and made one for Karrots. We also joined the millions of other Americans with Christmas lights ...which we've left up all year long. Our apartment has an eve that borders the kitchen and the lights have called it home for the past year.

We've also had the tradition of going to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy for malts and ice cream soda. This goes hand in hand with the tradition of hanging out with the Spinks for movies. We also bought both versions of the Grinch in hopes to watch them frequently.

Big Red and I aren't going to be playing the Santa game with our kids (yes, we plan on having more). We'll tell them the story of Saint Nicholas and who he was, but we feel it would be lying to them saying there's some fat guy who fits down chimneys and flies around in a sleigh led by flying reindeer and does it for every house in one night. Instead, as his dad did, we'd rather claim ALL the presents we give them. Don't worry, we're not going to teach them to be insensitive to the kids who believe... *;o)

We've been fortunate enough to spend the holidays with both sides of the family the past couple years. This hasn't given us much time to make many new traditions, but as time goes by I'm sure we'll come up with more!

What are your family traditions?

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