I feel that we are still in the “setting up” phase as far as our family traditions go. It seems that whenever a holiday comes up now, I begin shopping around for traditions to pass down to our girls. Both Michael (my husband) and I have great Christmas traditions that are passed down from our family. One of my favorites is Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws. My father-in-law,Gary, goes all out cooking steak and giant (fist sized) shrimp. Oh, Grandma Lulu helps a little too…you know, all of the other stuff. 😉 My mouth waters just thinking about this dinner; which is a slightly chaotic affair. There are 7 siblings, all but one married and 19 nieces and nephews under 11 years old. After the dinner, the nieces and nephews exchange gifts and Grandma and Grandpa present each family with a beautiful gold ornament from the Danbury Mint. Then the kids get to open a present from their parents; the traditional Christmas Jammies. (I will admit that I spent about a month trying to find matching ones in 6-9mo. and 2T–I’ll post a picture for you next time.) However the traditions start much earlier than Christmas Eve. As mentioned before, we decorate Gingerbread cookies on the first Sunday of the month. Grandma Lulu also does a candle nativity earlier in the month. She weaves the bible verses together with carols and lights a candle as each new person (or group) enters the story (soft blue and green votives for Mary and Joseph, White tapers for the angels, green for the shepherds and maroon for the Wise men, and a cream votive in a crystal holder for Jesus.) She also gives us a Christmas picture book every year. It is so much fun to have a seasonal collection with her writing in the front.
My family’s traditions start with putting up decorations the day after Thanksgiving as Christmas music blares through the house. I always think about being a little kid and feeling flooded with excitement that Christmas had finally come when I haul out the tree. On Christmas morning we always got an orange and a banana in our stockings. We had to eat one or the other first, but then could feast on all of the treats and our very own box of SUGAR CEREAL! My little sister also always got a bottle of maraschino cherries and I got a bottle of green olives (yeah, the craziness started early with me.) One thing that my husband and I started doing a few years ago, was to forgo presents for each other and “sub for Santa” for a family in need.
In looking around to see what others do, I found some fun things. I loved all of the ideas My Derbe shares in her blog. From nightly devotionals, where they discuss sections of the Christmas story to eating banana splits for breakfast on Christmas day. My sister-in-law makes the infamous Christmas casserole and has a platter with ham and rolls available for sandwiches during the day so that when anyone is hungry, they can just go grab something. We both agree that Christmas day is meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. A Silicone Valley Mom tells about her Filipino rooted Christmas which is celebrated from Nov. 1st to Jan. 6th and features a midnight feast, Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), complete with ham, fettuccine, turkey and a whole roast suckling pig (lechon). You can read a great compilation of how Christmas is celebrated around the world done by grhomeboy! here, including how to say it in over 40 languages. Dgrbino focuses on philanthropy by donating money to buy fruit trees for families in 3rd world countries (there is a link to do it yourself on her site). One last site to check out: Lil Duck Duck is in a similar position and shares an extensive list of possibilities. Please let me know what you love to do with your family and have a wonderful Christmas! -Keersten