This week has be thinking about Family Holiday Traditions, as we eat all our leftovers and prep for Christmas. My family is not super-big on traditions, but we do have some, and there's others that I'd like to start up, I think.
- We decorate with the same ornaments every year, though which specific ones will depend on what theme everyone picks; personally, I like a whimsical tree with all the ornaments I've inherited from everyone before me*
- We open one present on Christmas Eve, then gather everyone together on Christmas Morning for the rest
- There's a lot of food: We have a pretty set Thanksgiving dinner, we make spaghetti and chicken parm or Chicken fried steak for Christmas Eve, and we make a big Cuban dinner like grandma used to make for Christmas Day. New Years is usually another big dinner, with Midnight Mimosas. We almost always have a Cookie Day where we spend one whole day making All The Cookies.
When I lived on my own, we also had:
- Going to the movies on Christmas Day after everything is opened and then cleaned up
- Home made chicken and dumplings on New Years Eve or Day
- Watching all the Christmas Specials from when we were kids, and then having a dinner of traditional lucky foods
- Aveomas: like Christmas for people who work retail and don't get to enjoy Christmas because everyone who doesn't work retail isn't all that nice to everyone who does**. We'd make one present and buy one present, and it usually happened after the New Year when work went back to regular hours but we hadn't taken Christmas decorations down yet.
As someone who has mostly worked low-level service industry jobs, I've gotten this sort of shell-shock hangup about the holidays. Everything between Thanksgiving and New Years is alarming at best, and really upsetting at worst, because the sale-crazy makes everyone loud and mean and makes all the stores grabby and crowded. I don't like that, as an introvert or as a part of a community. Our insta-tradition of making one of the presents we gave to everyone was meant to combat that by making the holidays about personal things again, and that was nice, so when I'm on my own again, I think I'll add that back into my personal household traditions.
Also, I make sure to get a Pannetone*** for myself, or get someone to get it for me, because I love them and they're delicious and no one else likes them. But I think they taste exactly like Christmas and it's a tradition I hold with myself.
Some other traditions I like:
- The Christmas Pickle-- Have you heard of this? I never did until I moved up here, but apparently there's this thing that some families do**** where you have a pickle-shaped ornament, and Christmas Eve the head of the household hides it somewhere on the tree, and then whoever finds it gets a special extra present. It's cute and fun.
- I always like lighting candles. For any reason, really. And I have this vague memory of people in Europe when we lived there lighting candles around Christmas and New Years because it's the darkest part of the year, and it needs light. I like that idea. (related: some cultures light (or did light) bonfires in the middle of winter, and I like that, too.)
- I want to plant a tree each year, to maybe make up for all the trees cut down and dragged inside, even if only symbolically. This will have to be planned ahead of time, since the middle of winter is not a great time for planting anything, but sooner or later, I'll get to it. And then probably have ornaments just for those trees, or some other thing to sort of honor them and welcome them.
- I love how some countries shut down for the holidays. It gives more people a chance to actually enjoy them and celebrate them, instead of being worked to death in what's meant to be a family-togetherness time of year. That would take moving to a different country or founding a new one to incorporate, most likely, though...
What traditions do you have? And what traditions would you like to add? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah or one of the twenty or so other holidays in December, let's talk holiday traditions!
*I got some from my mom and my childhood when I moved out, so that my first Christmas on my own wouldn't be without anything from my past, and after my grandma died, I got a few bundles of ones she'd made. I mix those with all the random birds^ I tend to get every year for myself.
^I effing love a fat Christmas bird ornament, you guys. There's so many birds on my personal tree every year.
**Be nice to the people helping you out, guys; "service" doesn't mean "servant" and it definitely doesn't mean "whipping boy for your angst and frustration"!
***It's technically an Italian fruitcake, but it's nothing like "fruitcake"--it's more like if a croissant and a nice egg bread had a baby, and it just happened to have chunks of candied fruit in it.
****It's supposedly German in origin, but I'm always finding posts and articles from Germans saying they've never heard of it, so I'm guessing it's either actually German-immigrant^^ or it's been attributed to Germans but someone else made it up. I don't really care, it's cute.
^^Like how corned beef and cabbage for St Patricks Day is apparently not actually Irish, but Irish-immigrant.
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