December 15th, 2011 by Kateastrophe
I’m feeling all festive lately so watch out for another Christmas post. This time I want to talk about traditions.
I mentioned that my family tree is sort of all over the place, with divorces and extra parents and all that jazz. This meant that my siblings and I were in a different location for Christmas every year. We rotated between my Dad’s current home (wherever that happened to be at the time until he got married then it was Pennsylvania), his family home in Ohio, our home in Utah and my Grandparent’s home in California. We had a total blast but traditions were not so easy to keep.
All of our set and attempted traditions come from my Mom or her side of the family. Dad’s side is a little more focused on Thanksgiving so Christmas traditions were never much of a big deal to them. As for our little clan, my mom sure tried to introduce new traditions to make the holiday somewhat consistent for us. One year she decided that we were going to collect pieces of a Christmas village, one each year. My Grandma, who is OBSESSED with Christmas, got wind of this and the next year our present from her was an ENTIRE VILLAGE. Hmmm. Next she tried a nutcracker theme, with a new fancy nutcracker every year. This one lasted about two years and then Mom forgot. No more nutcrackers!
For food, our big meal has always been on Christmas Eve. Apparently when my Grandma was growing up the big dinner was always on Christmas day and she said she always felt bad for her Mom and the other women (eventually I’m sure herself included) who had to spend all day cooking instead of enjoying their gifts on Christmas. So, when she got married she decided the big meal was always going to be on Christmas Eve. She also gets some breakfast casserole ready to be warmed up so that on Christmas morning, the only cooking you do is breakfast (which is already mostly prepared) and then spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying family. As for the actual meal, we are pretty weird and picky about our our holiday recipes. It has to be just the right stuffing, creamed corn and sweet potatoes. Sometimes we mix it up with the meat and have ham or prime rib, and we are allowed to try new mashed potato recipes, but so help you if you mess with the stuffing, creamed corn or sweet potatoes. Well, it’s not like we DO something to the person who introduces a new recipe, we just feel like the holiday wasn’t complete and make the dishes that were missing within the next day or so. So basically either way we always get our favorites whether it’s on Christmas or not.
One tradition (at least when we were with Mom) was that on Christmas Eve, we read her favorite Christmas story, This is the Christmas. My mom spent a good chunk of her childhood living in Belgrade, Yugoslavia - now Serbia, and has a deep love for the Serbian culture. This story comes out of that area and involves a Serbian family and a small Gypsy boy. I’ve posted before so if you’d like to read it, you can find it here. It really is an amazing story and I’m glad that this is one tradition that stuck.
Another awesome thing our family did that I haven’t seen much was that my Mom somehow convinced Santa to put our stockings on our beds. And our stockings were AWESOME. They were always filled with games and small toys, markers and coloring books. We had HUGE handmade felt stockings that fit a bazillion things and they were still overflowing with stuff. The genius in all of this is that when we woke up at the butt crack of dawn - which we almost always did - we had tons of stuff to keep us busy and allow the adults to sleep in until at least seven when we were finally allowed out into present land.
So, now that I have my own little family and home, I’ve been trying to figure out which traditions we want to keep from my family, which we like from Matt’s family and which ones I want to introduce as new.
We try very hard to set aside at least a few hundred dollars every year to donate to a charity of some sort. We usually do it through our ward (aka local branch of our church) as there are always families who need a little help. I think as we grow our family I’d like to do something that’s a little more obvious than writing a check, so in the future I’m thinking the Twelve Days of Christmas or spending time volunteering at a food bank or something will be in order. My Mom was great about making sure that no matter how poor we were, we always did or gave something to a family who was worse off than us and it’s important to me that we do the same thing.
Matt’s family and mine have a little “conflict” in that their big tradition is to do appetizers and shrimp cocktail on Christmas Eve and then watch a movie together. While I love this, I feel torn because I tend to agree with my Grandma that the last thing I want to do on Christmas Day is spend all day in the kitchen. So we’ve gone back and forth on this. I am pretty sure we’ll end up with our tradition being a big dinner on Christmas Eve and the Murphy Appetizer Party on Christmas night, but that one is still being decided. I love the Christmas breakfast tradition so I’ll keep that, but I think I’ll try different recipes for a few years until we find THE ONE. It will probably have something to do with french toast.
Matt’s Mom introduced an awesome tradition to us. Every year she gives us a few Christmas children’s books. The point is to get 25 and before December 1st, wrap them all up and then open one each evening before bed to read as a family. I love love love this and I can’t wait to start doing it whenever the babies decide to grace us with their presence.
I’ll still read the special story on Christmas Eve, and I’d like to also read the story of Christ’s birth from the bible.
I’ve been hearing a lot about The Elf on the Shelf lately and I’m undecided on that one. I think it’s a really cool idea and a good way to help your kids focus on being good in December, but it seems like a lot of work for the parent (if the things I’m seeing on Pinterest are any indication.) Also? That thing is kind of creepy in a clown-like way and I’m not sure I’d feel safe in my own home.
At some point in my life I’m going to be better about Christmas Cards. I spent HOURS making one this year that’s clever and cute but now I feel like I don’t want to spend hours printing, addressing and mailing it. I’m such a lazy bum. I’ll still probably end up doing it but right now it just seems like more effort than I want to put into it. I’m sure when we have kids I’ll be better about family pictures which make cards a lot easier, says me.
What traditions do you have that you’d be willing to share? I’m keeping a list of ideas to try out over the next few years and I’d love to know what works for your family.
Just writing about this stuff got me all excited for Christmas again! I love it!
- Posted in The Awesome Continues