December 04, 2007

Traditions

At long last...I hope you enjoy...

Holiday traditions in our house start to pop up around the 1st of November...you see, with a large family (I'm sure Farmie will agree), you can't wait until the week of, and expect everything to get done. So around my birthday on the 2nd, we're already planning out Thanksgiving Day...meal, location, you name it...

Once the dishes from Thanksgiving are done and put away, we rest and the day after Thanksgiving, my family is NOT shopping at crazy hours of the night (I don't care who you are, 5am is NOT time to stand in line for a freaking video game or movie). Instead, we start the Christmas decorating.

Out comes the tree...yes it is artificial, and that's ok! We put it up, get all the lights on, and then we each get our shoebox of ornaments out and put them up. After the ornaments of all 5 kids go on the tree, the "real" ornaments go on, you know, the red glass balls, the icicles, and the angel that has seen some real miracles in that she's never fallen off the tree, or seen anything go up in flames! While the tree is being set up and lit, my dad and brothers would be outside hanging the lights on the house, tress, bushes, lightpost, mailbox, and anything else unfortunate enough to be standing still in our front yard. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, we'd purchase the ingredients and then make cookies...sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, pizzelles, hermit cookies, spritz, and the best 2 - home made fudge, and my Nana's recipe for chocolate balls...which will be on the Cookin' site shortly. We'd wrap up 6 or 8 plates, include some candy canes, and then we'd fight over who got to deliver the cookies to the neighbors. Later on, we'd receive 6 or 8 more, and fight over who got to eat the Italian wedding cookies, and who got the peanut butter chocolate cookie, gooey things that one neighbor in particular made, or who got the cookies with the Kisses in the middle...mmmmm

In the midst of the decorating and baking, we'd be preparing for concerts - choir, band, orchestra, and the Church programs, finding just the right outfits to wear for those that didn't have a robe, or "uniform", and practicing our little fingers and vocal cords to the bones (do vocal cords HAVE bones???).

There was, of course, the shopping for and wrapping of gifts, keeping special things hidden, wondering if that big box with my name on it would FINALLY be the CD player and stereo I wanted, or just another giant sweater or bathrobe...

Finally, when Christmas Eve arrived, we'd spend the better part of the day eating cookies, crackers and cheese, doing puzzles, and watching all the great specials that were on TV. You know, the one where Rudolph sounds like he has a cold because he puts the fake black nose over his glowing red one? And the one where Burl Ives sings Silver & Gold, disguised cleverly as a snowman that looks JUST like him?

We'd head off to Christmas Eve service, and then, if it was dark enough, drive around and look at the Christmas lights around town. We'd head home for my mom's amazing Potato Soup, bread, crackers, cheese, veggies and dip, cookies, and Eggnog...

We'd beg and plead to open just one present. PLEASE, just ONE?!?!?!? Sometimes, we'd get to, other times, we wouldn't.

Then it would be off to bed, trying to sleep, struggling to stay awake to hear Santa Claus putting the final gifts under the tree (sounding as though he was in my parents' bedroom, not coming down the chimney), and whispering late into the night making plans for just what our morning would like. 1 - wake up 2 - sneak downstairs to make sure there were really presents 3 - come back up and wake everyone else up...and on it would go.

Christmas morning required us to sit on the stairs while my daddy would go down and make sure Santa had come. Once the coast was clear, we'd all troop down the stairs, and into the family room to see what had been left in our stockings. Mom would brew a pot of coffee, and we'd have breakfast breads and juice or milk (or coffee when we could get away with it), to tide us over til breakfast. Then we'd head into the living room to see what was under the tree, and open our presents, taking turns going around the room, one person at a time getting to open a present, and then onto the next person, so no one lost the excitement of their gift in the melee that would ensue otherwise.

We'd clean all the trash up, making sure that no important gifts were lost in the heaps of paper, and then, while daddy would make his homemade from scratch pancakes and scramble eggs, we'd put together those "some assembly required" things, put the decals on the Barbie houses and Matchbox or GIJoe stuff, and begin to stack the boxes with clothing and books under the tree nicely.

We'd eat breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day watching movies, eating food, doing puzzles, playing our new games, and if it was one of those fluky winters, we'd go ride our new bike outside, being SO careful not get it dirty or scratch it, so it would still be shiny in the spring.

Christmas dinner rotated being lasagna, traditional turkey, ham, or on really really special years, prime rib (which for a large family is NOT cheap). We'd eat around midday, and then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening doing more of the same.

We never traveled until my freshman year of high school when my oldest brother decided to get married in December...which is when we DROVE from our house to Tennessee, laughed at the people in their winter parkas and dressed like Eskimoes for the 50 degree "cold" spell they were having, spent the week before Christmas helping make mints, cookies, bells with birdseed to be thrown at the happy couple, and for final fittings on dresses, buying shoes...and the day of was spent with my grandparents in their mobile home in NC, with no tree, no gifts, only dinner, and no TV. Grandma was a strict Baptist...you know, the kind that people joke about by saying "why is sex bad? because it leads to dancing" (no offense meant to any Baptists out there...that's just how she was), so Christmas was just as sacred as Easter and should not be commercialized...

Now, keep in mind that this is what is was when I was growing up, living at home.

Since I've married and moved into my own home, and am blending traditions with my husband, and now our son, things are slightly different.

Mom still wants us to come over put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. I tell her I can't until my own is up. BB and Daddy look at us like we're crazy, and drag out the tree and lights and hightail it to their respective wood shops to hide until we're done.

We still bake cookies and make fudge to share with the neighbors, and receive plates in return. We still hide presents and keep secrets...

But the fact remains that BB's family did things differently, and now, do things even MORE differently than before...holidays with his family are now about what is easiest and most convenient for MIL. I still find it odd not to eat until late in the day, but maybe that will change as my own family grows older...

The oddest thing is that no one in their house EVER jumped out of bed as soon as they were sure it was later than 6 am (parents' rule), and started waking people up shouting Merry Christmas!!!! No Church, no driving around to look at lights, and no sharing cookies with friends, or having people over...

The most important thing to me is that Captain Chaos and Baby #2 (as well as BB and any other babies we may have) know the reason for Christmas, and find joy in it, no matter where they are, or who they are with. The next thing, is that they understand that some things you just DO...because you did it when you were little, and your mom and dad did it when they were little...

I invite you to share your favorite family tradition, and one of the "odd" things that your other half's family does.

5 comments:

FarmWife said...

First of all, Burl Ives is my cousin. Really.

We still haven't hashed out our Christmas traditions. Things seem different every year. I would like to set somethings in stone & am working on it slowly. My In-Laws don't do Christmas at all anymore. MIL has brought over the kids gifts at odd times the past few years. They just don't celebrate the way my family does, so it's hard to get Husband to see the importance of some things.

One thing I plan on instilling is the Christmas story from the book of Luke. It's my favorite. G'pa M&M reads it EVERY year. This year we may get to be there for it. That alone is worth the drive.

Oh, and I belive the phrase is "Rock & Roll leads to sex & sex leads to dancing." At least that's what Yo Dan used to say.

Ang said...

The Saturday after Thanksgiving the lights go up on the outside and the tree goes up on the inside. My goal in recent years is to have 90% of the shopping done by Thanksgiving day. I am one of the crazy ones that is out at 3,4,5am shopping..But it's not for usually what is in the flyers. Christmas Eve recently has been shared with my father and his wife. We go out to his house and exchange presents. Say our goodbyes and holiday wishes and come back home to grandma. (She doesn't like father's family) The kids have a slumber party in youngests room and talk all night waiting for Santa...But not before they leave a carrot for the reindeer, CHOCOLATE milk for Santa, and some of mommies baked goods on a plate.

The next morning the kids awake to see Santa was quite messy. Carrot shavings in the fireplace from the reindeer and half eaten cookies on the plate with a drop or two of chocolate milk in the glass..Sometimes with lipstick (how does that man get away with it?) The kids must all use the restroom before going downstairs and waking gram. They sit on the stairs until gram has done her business. Hubby or I hand out stockings to everyone and I begin taking pictures as one by one they empty their stockings. Then one of the children gets to put on Santa's Helpers hat and pass out the presents under the tree. We then go around the room and open presents one by one taking turns. I usually will have them skip me( they forget to by mommy presents) and go onto someone else. I take pictures of it and ooh and ahh at their reactions.

When we were first married we did Christmas Eve with the In-Laws and that stopped 4 years ago when MIL and SIL snubbed me. (Hubby's choice to end it all he hasn't talked to them since) I had hand made with Thick Chenille Yarn in their favorite colors these long, soft blankets. SIL opened the box and said this is nice but never took it out. MIL said you probably did the same for me so I'm not gonna open mine. Hubby laid into them and informed them I spent 6 months working on their 3 blankets doubling the patterns so there would be enough room for them and their hubbys. It wasn't store bought. They shrugged their shoulders and said oh and moved on. I however was crushed. The year before I had made each of them personalized stockings. I had found all of these buttons of things they liked. Example one SIL liked Victorian so I found Victorian buttons and Cats (She loved cats) and other loves she had onto the stocking while still making it look Christmasie..(IS that a word?) I found them in the trash later that night on Christsmas Eve. I showed hubby and came home crying.
So now I make my family traditions for my kids and my hubby. In his youth they weren't allowed to Celebrate Christmas or Birthdays because his father converted to Jehovah Witness (Sp?) but when he became an adult his father backed off on the rule. Ok I've talked your ear off. Sorry.

But I'm so glad you posted today.
Love to you today. I look foward to seeing your Chocolate Ball Recipe.

Kork said...

thanks so much for sharing!

And thank you Ang for all your encouragement over the last weeks!!!

I love knowing that I have new friends that are caring and praying for us every day!

Inkling said...

Please, please share your mom's potato soup recipe. I'd love to try it. Farmie's is wonderful, but it's nice to have a variety of types. And besides, she did give birth to the only person who ever told me I'd make a great yuppy. (your mom, not Farmie)

As for strange traditions, my grandma on my dad's side used to have a contest on Christmas morning to see who could say "Christmas Gift!" first. When we were little, we'd take up stations at every door of her house. One of us would be the sacrificial lamb - whichever door she opened first - and the others would somehow manage to get her. When we were old enough to know that midnight is the beginning of a new day, we'd wake up my parents in their bed at my mom's parents home (where we always spent Christmas Eve). Even though my Grandma Christmas Gift is with Jesus now, we still keep the tradition going. It's a fun tradition, even if it has no point other than having fun and being silly. My husband does not understand, and just laughs at our antics. His family doesn't have any weird traditions, primarily because they really didn't have that many traditions to begin with. I think he thinks I'm strange enough for the both of us.

FarmWife said...

I must add that one year, Inkling and I posted notes all over Grandma M&M's house that said "Christmas Gift" in the middle of the night so no one could get us before we got them. Last year I emailed Inkling a "Christmas Gift" and she said it didn't count...but it did when she left it on my answering machine! Go figure!! :) But she roped me into the tradition eventhough it was the other side of her family.