December 9, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a Traditional Christmas

If you’re anything like me, you think you don’t like tradition.  The very word just sounds so rote and boring and purposeless.  But somewhere, deep in the secret recesses of your soul, tucked away behind all those hidden memories and classified thoughts, you know you love it.  Especially this time of year.  What would the Christmas season consist of if not for your beloved traditions?  Honestly, there are thousands of options for your spare time (if it exists, which is questionable) this month, but what will you do?  Probably, the same ten things you do every December.  Sure, you might throw in one new item for good measure – bake a new cookie recipe, finally send out Christmas cards, watch a different movie – sort of like a Pre-New-Year’s-Resolution to try new, bold and daring things.  (Watch out, world!)  But you’re pretty sure it won’t be worth a second thought compared to that one thing you’ll never spend a Christmas without.

Since tying the knot and moving far from the land of my fathers, some of my traditions have been swapped out for different ones, or merged into Eric's for brand spanking new ones altogether.  Instead of praying for a snow-white Christmas, for instance, I plead – no, beg, prostrate on the floor – for a warm front.  Instead of swooning over JTT in “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” I admiringly sing along to “Peter, Paul and Mary’s Holiday Concert.”  Instead of consuming inordinate and unholy amounts of chocolate on Christmas morning, I eat even more.  (The weather in this part of the country requires one have quite a bit more insulation, you know.)  Yes, some traditions have bitten the dusty white stuff, but there will always, always be the lovingly hand-decorated stockings, Grandma’s sodiumazing sausage balls, and the Count-Down-to-Santa Calendar (I won’t even pretend it has anything to do with Advent, though I'm thinking of adding a baby Jesus to the mix if I can only figure out how to portray him respectfully with felt.).  One tradition I've picked up from Eric's family (in addition to the aforementioned folk concert) is Gingerbread-man and -woman crafting.  Here are our attempts from a few years ago:

 I didn't say they were works of art.  But they were yuuuuummmmmmmmy.

A few times in the last couple weeks I've stumbled upon old traditions from my childhood which have stirred up all kinds of ooey gooey happy feelings.  Traditions such as this one:

Christmas tradition doesn't get much better than that, folks.  

What's a Christmas tradition you won't do without this year?  
Any new traditions you hope to add to the repertoire?


  1. One of our Christmas traditions--which I will always associate with Dad especially--is a "treasure hunt." :) In our stockings, or taped to 'related' gifts, we find these clues that lead us on a treasure hunt all over the house (and sometimes yard!), ultimately leading to a prize at the end. One year, for example, I wanted a toolbox, so each tool had a note attached to it, leading to the next one...all twenty or thirty of them! :) Often Dad would hang jewelery items for Mom and I on the tree with no notes, and we would just discover them throughout the Christmas season. :)

    We have several other traditions as well, like a buffet for dinner ALL DAY instead of a sit-down turkey or ham dinner. And we always drink sparkling juice to celebrate the memory of the birth of Christ. We also always start the day with a cup of Mom's amazing hot chocolate (I can give you the recipe--it REALLY IS amazing) while we open our stockings. Um...others would mostly include things we can no longer do, since they were Dad things (like him being me a new angel every year for my nativity--totalling something 14!), or Christmas Eve shopping--the only time we enjoyed Christmas shopping because, well, Dad was "special." :)

    Oh, and I almost forgot--Mom and I have a fave tradition which is weird for people who hate shopping--we LOVE going to Sam's Club and going down all the aisles of ridiculous gifts, books, software, gadgets and things we would never buy...there's something about the store at Christmas... ;)

  2. "I'm thinking of adding a baby Jesus to the mix if I can only figure out how to portray him respectfully with felt"--that made me laugh! Also, your gingerbread cookies are adorable.

    I love traditions--no hesitation there. My husband and I split Christmas Day between our parents' houses, which are just a half-hour drive from each other, so it's been a challenge to come up with our own rituals. But we hold to my childhood tradition of rising early Christmas morning (6-7 AM) for the present exchange, and his of oyster stew at his parents' before Mass. I also make sure we have chocolate drop cookies and fruit cake.

    Celebrating Advent, which I'd never really done before marrying, is one of my favorite things--but it's just so backward to what most of the country is doing. Holding off on Christmas carols till the day itself? Practically impossible. Oh well. We do our best. :)

  3. I don't think Jesus really minds being portrayed in felt...

    Jenna--holding off on Christmas Carols, now that's a new one for me. My experience tends to be Truly Awful Pop Renditions of all those horrid Holiday Songs we can't escape, usually ubiquitous by 3 November.

  4. Oh, and speaking of synchronicity (because when aren't we?), today's post at Over the Hedge dovetails pretty darn perfectly here.

  5. Oooh, what are these amazing sausage balls you speak of?
    The Christmas tradition I'm sticking to is angel food cake for breakfast. You read some Scripture while spreading on raspberry jam (to represent our sins) and then covering the whole cake in freshly whipped cream (Jesus' forgiveness). I love it! I don't think it would feel like Christmas morning without the cake and coffee.

  6. Mr. Pond, see, there are benefits. :D We work hard at this. Of course, it isn't easy: in order to avoid the Truly Awful Pop Renditions and the Even More Appalling Pop Christmas Love Songs, it helps to stay out of banks and department stores as much as possible, and to listen to anything but the radio.

    We never wholly succeed, either. My husband signed up for his company's Christmas choir, which means this year that he's stuck singing the words of Jingle Bells to a medley of tunes from the Nutcracker.


  7. Jenna (St. Hilaire)-- One would think that you'd have to also take the associated tradition of observing Christmas from Dec. 25 through Jan. 6 just to fit in all the songs! (Knowing about Epiphany does make "The 12 Days of Christmas" marginally more intelligible.)

    Carrie-- Don't we have a picture somewhere of the Gingerbread Dalek from last year?

  8. Wow - So much action for my little blog! Thanks, guys, for answering with your traditions! It's really lovely to read about them and I've even got it in my mind to bring some of them to life in my own home...

    Eric - that particular Dalek is dead and gone. But, now there's a Christmas tradition worth repeating: Doctor Who Marathon!!! :)

  9. Eric, of course! What good is putting up the Christmas tree just days before Christmas if you don't get to keep it up till January 6? ;)

    Carrie, you're welcome, and thanks for hosting!