Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Traditions - Friday Five

The Friday Five at  RevGalBlogPals is all about Christmas traditons"
So for this Friday Five, tell us five things about the traditions in your family. Think of

  • traditions you always do
  • traditions you always cook or eat
  • traditions you would like to start
  • traditions you would like to discard
  • anything about your family Christmases

My Christmas traditions are in transition now as my children are now adults, and for the first time ever, the Younger Son will not be home for Christmas.  Over the past few years our traditions have evolved as our sons left home for college, graduated, and started independent lives in other states.  But for many years our family traditions were pretty much what I grew up with.  (My husband is Jewish, so all the traditions were mine!)

In MY growing up home, we put the tree up about a week before Christmas, but we always kept it up til Ephiphany.  This was important to my Cuban father whose tradition was gift-giving on Jan 6th when Los Tres Reyes arrived.     I carried on this tradition in my own home although my tree goes up earlier each year.  This year the tree has been up most of the month, but it has only lights on it still ----  I've decided I love the lights more than the hassle of unpacking all the ornaments!!

For most of my growing up years we lived away from other family members, so we'd get huge boxes of presents mailed to us.  Mom wouldn't open the boxes til Christmas Eve. We looked forward to the grand opening of the mailing boxes and loved the pile of wrapped presents that grew under the tree. Despite my mom always warning us it was "going to be a slim Christmas", that never seemed to happen.  Of course with 5 children, and generous parents and relatives, that was quite a huge pile of gifts!   I broke this tradition with my own family  --- as soon as the boxes arrived, we'd unpack them.  I've always enjoyed the anticipation as much as the actual unwrapping, and I like seeing gifts piled around a tree!

Santa brought stockings and wonderful toys to us.  We'd hang our stockings on the fireplace or stair railing, depending on the house we lived in, and sometime during the night, Santa would fill them and put them at the foot of our beds.  We were allowed to wake up as early as we wanted to and open our stockings BUT we had to stay in our rooms/beds!  Nobody was allowed downstairs until Mami and Papi were up and dressed, and then we had to line up from youngest to oldest before heading downstairs. I think my folks were brilliant --- we had the surreptitousness of opening stockings by the light of the electric candles in our window, to hold us over until about 7 am!  I was the oldest though, so I was always last to see what Santa had left under the tree.  Santa's gifts were never wrapped, and most things were removed from their packaging. My parents were smart about that too, I think.  Trying to wrap things like dollhouses and ice skates and tricycles would have been difficult!   This was one tradition I definitely kept!

A twist on the stockings that emerged when my sons were in high school was that they started to fill stockings for husband and me.  I really looked forward to that.  I think that might not happen this year, since the 2 boys would go out shopping together to put the stockings together.

Food that has to be part of Christmas now includes:
Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve  (from  my childhood)
Farm Journal's "Best Buttermilk Poundcake" on Christmas morning  (from my teenage years on)
Mrs. Greenhill's Shortbread cookies (for most of my childhood)
Crissy's Butter Cookies (since #2 son was about 5)
Ginger Crinkles (for most of my adult life)
Cranberry Almond Biscotti (relative new comer to tradition -- only about 5 years so far)

My kids never really liked Swedish meatballs, but one year, in what I thought was deference to their tastes, I made something else for Christmas Eve.  They were so upset!!!

A tradition that has been lost, that I dearly miss, was having a huge family gathering on Christmas Eve.  Mom would serve a buffet featuring the Swedish meatballs, we'd all sit in the living room and talk and sing Christmas carols,  budding musicians would play a carol on the instrument being learned, a child would read the Nativity story from the Bible, and last of all, Mom would gather us around her and read "The Night Before Christmas".  We'd hang our stockings and head for bed, and listen to the grownups below laughing and talking, and much later, we'd hear the rustling of what I was sure was Santa, but was really the adults setting out all the "loot".  With my own family, we never had the large family gathering since we lived 1000 miles away, but I did read the poem to my kids from the book my mom read from.

This year will be very different I think ---- we'll see!  I have been discarding some traditions, partly through attrition, and partly through change of circumstance.  I've already asked First Son if he'd be upset if I made something other than the meatballs. . . ..

1 comment:

Panhandle Jane said...

Oh my, our traditions are so much in flux right now. We do have a special dish--nut pudding that we only serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother's traditional Christmas Cat is not going to make an appearance this year because he is a rather delicated piece and one of my 2 yr. old granddaughters is kitty obsessed right now. She was a cat for Halloween--costume made from sweatsuit with ears and tail--and wants to live in the costume. She wore it to a Christmas party the other day. In fact, I'm half expecting her to show up for our Christmas family day today in full cat dress. Life is good!