12 December 2008

Christmas Traditions

I always like to learn about other people's Christmas traditions. I must admit, though, that I always listen and think, "My traditions are better."

Growing up, we tended to put up the tree and other decorations about at the end of the first week of December, or maybe the middle of the second week. Now that I am married and in charge, we like to set up sooner- like the day after Thanksgiving. I like to set up Christmas stuff while listening to Christmas music. It's so festive.

On the Monday immediately before Christmas my family would hold a big caroling party. We'd invite lots of friends from school and work, but mostly people came from church. We wandered the neighborhood singing carols, and it was always one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Living in Texas made caroling a much more likely prospect than caroling in Utah. There were only a few Christmases where it was just too cold to go caroling.

Some years we made ginger bread houses and took them to friends. Some years we made an abundance of cookies and took them to friends.

The best part of our Christmas was, of course, Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve we gathered together and had a big Tex-Mex feast. We bought tamales from a local shop and Mom made chili. Sometimes Mom also made enchiladas or tacquitos. We always had chips and salsa. I don't know when the Tex-Mex Christmas Eve feast started. I remember that we did it one year as something new, and it was such a hit that my brother, Steven, and I requested us to do it again the next year. I think I was about 7 or 8 the first time. Anyway, it has become a tradition, and to be honest I don't know what we ate on Christmas Eve before that. (When I was little and my grandma was alive, we usually went to Grandma and Grandpa's house for Christmas Eve. That might be why I don't remember what Mom made for Christmas Eve when I was small- because Mom wasn't making much.)

After eating we gathered in the living room and opened all the presents. Yes, all of them. Not just a set of pajamas or the smallest gift or the biggest gift. All the gifts. (Apparently this was a Danish tradition, and my mom's grandma was Danish.) We had to open the gifts one at a time, and usually my brother and I would take turns being Santa- that is, passing out the gifts. Even though we'd pass out about five or six at a time, they were still opened individually. After a long night of opening gifts everyone settled in for bed.

On Christmas Day we'd wake up and go through our stockings. When we were little, we would have more presents to open- the ones that Santa had brought. Frankly, I have only vague recollections of what I got from Santa as a little kid, but my mom said that Santa brought the nice gifts. (I think when Eric and I have kids that Santa will bring the less-nice gifts. To be honest, I want to get the credit I deserve!)

Most years we went out to a rather nice restaurant for a Christmas buffet. Some years we went to a hotel, other years we went to a restaurant in Reunion Tower, which has a restaurant that rotates and has great views of the Dallas Metroplex.

We'd have all sorts of gourmet foods at the restaurant- including made-to-order omelets and pasta, California sushi rolls, Christmas ham and turkey, really fancy desserts.

After our lovely brunch we'd head home and play with our new Christmas whatnots.

Now that I've been married for a few years, it is fun to see how our Christmas traditions are changing. A lot of what we do depends on where we are and who we are with. Eric tends to be adamantly opposed to opening presents on Christmas Eve, but I am rather opposed to opening everything on Christmas day. So, we usually pick out a few gifts for the other one to open.

I love Christmas, and I do like hearing about other people's traditions. In fact, a few ideas for future Christmas ideas (particularly ones with kids) have come from other people. I look forward to coming up with more Christmas traditions for future years!


Janssen said...

I'm afraid I can't tell you my traditions, lest they be dismissed as "not as good as your traditions." :)

My favorite tradition is our Christmas Eve shepherds' meal where we eat soup from bread bowls and sparkling cider, dressed in robes and headclothes, and then recite the Christmas story (we each have assigned verses, memorized years ago).

John said...

Thanks for this, what a great wrap-up of our Christmas Traditions. Tex-Mex dinners on Christmas Eve was a tradition prior to your birth. There were a few years when we dialed it back or simplified, but as you note, by the time you were 7 or 8, it was back into full swing. In our home now, we always have fajitas with all the fixings along with Big-Red Soda...mmmm, can't wait.
Most years then, and now in our home, we would read the Christmas story from Luke 2 right before family prayer and bed time.

AmiZOOKey said...

We used to be allowed to pick out one present and open it on christmas eve - so we'd usually pick the one we which we had no idea what it was :p hehe
In the Lydiate family however there is NO opening of presents on Christmas Eve - not allowed.