Christmas Traditions

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by scent of cedar, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Merry Christmas!


    Understanding that the feeling of fullness, of happiness, that Christmas brings is a matter of the heart...which are the family traditions that bring the most joy? Everyone is so down on the idea of making it all about gifts (me, too), but lately, I have been wishing for that sense of wonder and impending gratitude those wrapped presents used to bring.

    I am trying to go from the heart out to create this year's celebration.

    Baking and sending cookies ~ this always truly gives pleasure.

    Special Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. Buying and cooking and serving traditional foods brings so many special memories, too.

    Decorating the house...I had almost decided not to decorate, this year. It doesn't feel the same, is what I told myself. But here's the thing: the feeling of Christmas, that sort of magical fullness and happiness we can create in our homes and for our families doesn't have to depend on what's gone on through the year. It can be a time for gratitude, for reflecting on all the good things we do have if we go about it intentionally.

    I don't know why this imagery came to me, but it's like buying fresh strawberries. When you haven't eaten them all and they are no longer so fresh and plump and can still make strawberry jam out of them. And, if you share the jam, if you send it to all the people who are so far away from you, that package of berries goes on bringing joy for a really long time.


    Looks like I will be making and sending strawberry jam, this year. I think there is still time. I will do each of the steps of creating and sending the jam with deep intention.

    And that will make Christmas, for me.

    And just thinking about this has fired the excitement of decorating, after all.

    How are you focusing intent, this year?

  2. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    So, in rereading this, I realized it is all pretty much about what I am going to do for someone else to create a sense of joy for myself. So, I started thinking about what it must feel like to be one of those people who is all about what she wants, and intends to get, for Christmas.

    Let's do that on this thread, too. What would be the most outrageous, secretly wished for but never spoken aloud, gift you could get? If you could have anything you wanted, if it could be a heart's desire Christmas, this year...what would you choose?

    I don't even know.

    I never think like that.

    That will be part of the fun, for all of us.

    Thinking about what would make us feel so happy and cherished!

  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    We missed a lot of traditions last year as we were moving but we're trying to get back on track this year. We host some of my" family on the 22nd, some of husband's family on the 24th and we're having an intimate New Year's Eve party (no kegger here!). One thing we do every year is attend church on Christmas Eve (we'll go to the late service this year); it helps to remind us what this crazy, over-commercialized and marketed holiday is all about. We also take part in food, clothing and toy drives whenever we can. It helps us to remember that while we don't have everything we want, we do have plenty.

    I think my outlandish gift that I'll never get is to be whisked away to spa day including a massage all the while my house and car and being cleaned top to bottom. Also, a delicious dinner ready when I get home and someone else doing the dishes.

    Or perhaps Duckie treating me with dignity and respect.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    We go to my parents' on Christmas Eve, and the kids light luminaria. We hang around, eat, talk, and open one gift... Then... Christmas Day is at our house, and the kids have to wait till Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) arrive. This worked well with teens who like to sleep in, and Rose doesn't completely understand yet, but in a couple years it's going to get interesting...
  5. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Every year my mom holds her annual Christmas party. This year the party is tomorrow night. The adults do a white elephant gift exchange, and the kids get their gifts early from the relatives we don't see on Christmas day. Everybody brings their favorite appetizer to share. This year difficult child is making a new recipe she found in one of the cook books she just bought. She wants to eventually become a chef so she's really excited to be baking a dish for the whole family.

    Christmas Eve is just a quiet night spent at home, and Christmas morning the kids open their gifts from me. This year, since my boyfriend is with us, I am getting him a stocking filled with his favorite candy and a couple of gift cards to his favorite places to eat. After we open our gifts at home, we go to my mom's for a Christmas breakfast. The kids usually get several gifts from her, and she gets me a gift and I get her and my stepdad something small. We stay until dinner then go home.

    For me Christmas can be incredibly stressful, because I get panic attacks in crowded stores, which makes shopping not so fun. This year I am actually getting child support and it comes at the beginning of the month, which makes shopping much easier. Normally I have to wait until my paycheck at the end of the month to do my shopping, so I have no choice but to go in crowded stores. This year I was able to do most of my shopping online. What a huge relief! Not only was I able to avoid doing a bunch of physical shopping, but I was actually able to get my kids the gifts they wanted BEFORE my mom beat me to it and got them first. They are going to be super excited to see their favorite gifts under our tree. I love Christmas, with all the lights and decorations, but wish it didn't make me go broke once a year.
  6. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    My outlandish Christmas wish would be a trip to Europe. 2 weeks would be nice. A month would be even better! .

    Christmas traditions....I get my kids new pajamas every year and give them to them on Christmas eve. In years past they were hum drum and giving me a hard time, but I persisted and then last year they really looked forward to the Christmas pjs. I was so excited!
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Usually we decorate on Thanksgiving weekend, but we were late this year. We put up the tree, talk about the ornaments (none match, they're all ones that we liked and bought), and put the inflatables on the roof. Our sledding penguins tore, so we have new ones this year. The Christmas cards are taped to the back of the front door. Hubby wants to hang up all his Star Trek ornaments in the kitchen doorway, which means drilling holes and installing things. I am not amused.

    My impossible wish would be a cute little two seater Mercedes convertible...bright red.

    We spend Christmas Eve with Hubby's family and Christmas Day with my mom. Miss KT can't come down for Christmas this year because she's working, and I'm a bit sad but I understand. This is the first year she hasn't been home. Sigh.
  8. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    We have bought a new Christmas ornament every year since we got married (33 years and counting), and when difficult child was born, I started buying him a new ornament every year. I have ornaments marking his first through fifth Christmases, then I started getting him ornaments that reflected what he was interested in at the time. When he got old enough, I let him pick out his own ornament every year. That didn't last long, but bringing out the ornaments he picked out when he was four or five or six years old bring back some sweet memories (he wasn't really a difficult child until he was about nine). I still have them all, and someday my plan is to give them to him and his wife (if he ever meets someone and gets married).

    My outrageous gift would be a month spent with husband on a private island (tropical, of course), laying on the beach all day and swimming in our private pool all evening, being waited on when we would like something to eat or drink, but otherwise, just being, with no other obligations. For a month, anyway.
  9. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Things here are so very different this year. Every year (well every holiday actually year round!) I have hosted family at my house for a big meal and small gift exchange. We were used to my now former S/O living with us. We had traditions in our home town for certain events leading up to the 25th etc. I also hosted a New Years Eve party, family and close friends, for over 15 years.

    This year, it is just myself and the two kids. I'm so grateful my Matt is with us this year. He 20 now and lived across the country the past two years but is currently living with me and it is so nice to have him with me and his sister for the holiday.

    We are spending our first Christmas and New Years in a new town, 2+ hours away from our hometown. There wont' be a family meal here, no local events and no family New Year's party. easy child and I were both bummed a few months back at the idea. But now we are looking forward to the holidays and since we can't do things as usual, we are just going with the flow and doing new things.

    We have attended the nearby city Christmas Parade which was great and followed by fireworks. This coming week one evening we are going to the city to drive around, listen to carols and drink hot chocolate, and see the Festival of Lights, followed by checking out homes decorations. The following weekend we are going on a sleigh ride with friends and their children similar in age to my kids.

    I have a male "friend" in my life. He will share the 24th and 25th with us. We will be keeping the tradition of exchanging pjs on the 24th, watching Christmas movies and playing board games etc. Gift opening and nice breakfast on the 25th and a turkey and ham dinner of course. My new "friend" has his two kids stopping by in the afternoon for a couple of hours. My closest friend here is also stopping in with her brother, as well as another friend and his son, in the afternoon as well for a few hours. We certainly won't be lonely for company!

    New Years Eve will be spent at home, but the same basic group of people mentioned above are coming too. We will all provide a couple of food dishes, the adults will share some drinks, we will play card and board games etc.

    I don't really want anything for Christmas this year, I guess maybe in dream world, a wonderful new wardrobe would be pretty great! I have a serious lack of clothes that fit! At least this time its from weight loss instead of weight gain.

    Realistically however, this year I'm going to be glad to just have a holiday not be bleak as easy child and I imagined a few months back it would be given being in a new town. We have actually made some wonderful friends here and don't feel lonely at all.
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I truly enjoy Christmas. Almost all of it. Well, not the cleaning the house before part. And not the last minute panicky gift shopping part. But rest of it.

    As much as I don't like the cleaning, I do enjoy it when I have gotten a room cleaned and can put up the Christmas curtains, Christmas table clothes, change my Christmas/winter rugs on the floor and all that. I think even cleaning part would be okay, if I didn't have too many rooms to clean.

    I like to entertain myself looking (and marking the places to my phone) for Christmas tree whole fall when walking my dogs in in-laws (or certain neighbours who's forests we more or less have a permission to cut a tree) forests. Then adding that to what other people have found and going with whole family (including father in law and often some of husband's siblings and their family) to actually pick the trees and argue who gets which.

    Around here Christmas Eve is the centre of Christmas celebrations. Eve of the eve is already hectic. I often host our family Christmas (at least father in law and mother in law and few siblings of husband and their families are in attendance. Usually 15 to 25 people) so even though others bring some dishes I also do lots of cooking. And some dishes are cooked together at evening of 23nd. The night before Eve is spend baking Christmas ham and playing board games and drinking with husband's siblings after kids are put to bed. It tends to be 25 pound ham, or two of them if we expect most of the family to be in attendance, so it takes some time.

    At Christmas Eve my favourite, and in some ways very sensitive, tradition is visiting cemetery to light the candles to graves of the loved ones. Snowy, silent cemetery full of candles in winter night can be breathtakingly beautiful. And gives you certain unique sense of grounding.

    Big Dinner is also at Christmas Eve and gifts are given and opend after that. Santa Claus visits our homes in person and gives out the gifts. Children sing or give other musical performances to honour him before gifts are given. Also Santa Claus's traffic reports (was were enough snow for his sling or did he need a helicopter (our reindeer don't fly)) are important tradition. We are lucky to have young kids in our extended family and it is so much fun when you still have kids around who do believe in Santa.

    Night is spent playing with new board games gifted that year.

    Christmas Day is spent with our own family and is a very calm day usually. Starts early, 6 a.m. is a Church service and we have to leave right after five to be in time. After that it is back to jammies, breakfast and everyone gathering the gift books etc. and just reading and doing nothing for whole day. If the weather is nice, maybe some outdoors activity later on day. At evening we usually have some guests for coffee or visit someone else. Boxing Day is spent either visiting or inviting family and friends for brunch, lunch, afternoon coffee, dinner, evening coffee or a drink for good night. That excessive visiting (and often with same people, at worst you may visit someone for lunch and then you drive to your place for afternoon coffee) goes on till Epiphany. You just absolutely have to see everyone's Christmas tree and taste their versions of ham and other Christmas dishes. It doesn't have much sense to gram that much visits on so short period of time, and then not to visit or invite almost anyone in next four months, then have almost as crazy socialisation time from May to August, then go hermit till Christmas again, but it is how it goes.
  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Our Holidays are going great! Today is a candy/cooking making marathon at my house. easy child will be here in about an hour and we are making choc dipped candied grapefruit and orange peel, rum balls rolled in gold and silver sprinkles, aztec bark (72% cocoa, roasted pumpkin seeds, ancho chili), homemade payday bars, haystacks in both butterscotch and dark choc chipotle. It should take most of the day!

    This holiday will be a little low key as we are not expecting out of town company for Christmas. It will be the first year in several and we are actually looking forward to it! Two days after Christmas I have a crew coming in for my birthday (the 28th) and will have a weekend filled with family and friends.

    Christmas Eve our tradition is to have everyone's favorite appetizers in waves when friends stop in over the course of about 5 hours. Christmas Day the kids and I plan on having our traditional formal Christmas brunch in the dining room with all the silver and crystal and then a laid back buffet style supper much later in the day.

    The Christmas cards were sent last week, the house has been decorated since the week before Thanksgiving (when we ushered in the season with Christmas Vacation), the gifts are wrapped ---- we are ready!
  12. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I miss my old tradition of Jewish Christmas. We would go out for Chinese food and a movie. However, for the past 20+ years, I have accommodated H's Catholic upbringing. Years ago, I used to decorate the tree. I had cute ornaments that had cutouts for pictures of the kids, tons of tinsel, nothing religious, etc. Since H and I have been having marital issues, I have stepped back on that and if he gets a tree, fine. If not, fine, too. H has promised me that when his mom passes, we can do Jewish Christmas again. However, I really love my mother in law so I hope she will be around for many more years (she will be 90 soon). We compromise by having Chinese food on the 26th, which was my dad's birthday.

    As for a fantasy gift, I would love for H to have a brain transplant and realize he really wants to live where there is never snow. My dream is to never see snow in person ever again after I retire.

    Ironically, two other Jewish people and II organize the office holiday breakfast where we give gifts to the staff, none of whom is Jewish.
  13. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Svengandhi~ I just told Duckie about your Jewish Christmas celebration and she wants to do it this year since we mostly hang out at home on Christmas Day. We're going to run it past husband later. :)
  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have always loved Christmas, I am a sentimental character and all of the traditions and beauty, decorating, cookies, gift giving, all of it is a real pleasure for me. I have started baking cookies, tomorrow we put up the tree and decorate the house. I can sit on the couch with all the lights on the tree and the scent of pine...... family milling about......... and be a very happy camper.

    We're having Christmas dinner here which will be easy and fun. I actually am having someone else make the dinner and dessert so that I can enjoy the whole day with family and friends. I've never done that before, so this is new. I've been making a lot of choices lately which make MY experience more enjoyable and easier.........YAY!

    I think my secret desire would be that I feel a deep and profound sense of personal freedom, the kind of freedom I seem to have missed up until now..........the freedom to grab hold of my life and go have some serious FUN adventures with my SO who is the best playmate I could imagine. To travel around the globe with no thoughts but what is the most fun thing I can imagine doing right now............and then go do it.
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We used to have some small family traditions that came basically from when I was growing up. The first is that every Xmas eve we have oyster stew. For some reason that just happened from as long as I can remember. It might have something to do with my father being catholic. The other was going out to see all the lights we could find. I have kept those up with my boys though when they were younger they had chicken noodle soup while just Tony and I had the oyster stew. On Xmas ever I also gave the boys new Xmas PJ's and they would put them on and we would pile in the car to go see the lights and then we would come home and have hot chocolate and they had to go to bed.

    There was a time when they became mid to late teens that the whole going out and seeing the lights and getting new PJ's just wasnt all that fun for them anymore. I started it back when Monkey was born.

    I am so not good baking and every time I try to make those sugar cookie with cookie cutters its nothing but a mess. I sometimes get the ones already ready to bake and use This year I am making those salt dough ornaments and cinnamon ornaments with Monkey...she doesnt really care that they arent coming out of the cutters perfectly.
  16. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Tired -

    I didn't realize you are Jewish. I hope you and Duckie and husband enjoy a new tradition. I loved going out with my friends, the best times were when we went into Manhattan to Chinatown.

  17. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    We're not, we're Episcopalian, lol! But we celebrate as Christians on Christmas Eve so it sounds like a fun tradition to start. I get entertained and I don't have to cook!
  18. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    She's even picked a movie: Saving Mr. Banks. :)
  19. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    It may sound corny but when we hang the Christmas stockings we place 2 nickles in each one - the idea is if you ever woke up Christmas morning without 2 nickles to rub together (because spent everything you had on others) come Hell or high water you would have those 2 nickles. It's became tradition to have those nickles in our stockings and we also go to my parents for dinner.
  20. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I like reading this thread and the ones like it year to year. Help, yours was the very interesting!

    Over the years most traditions have stayed, though altered due to changing family dynamics. I think it's been posted before but this is ours:

    Used to be that we'd get our tree December 4th. It used to be a real tree for many years until 2009 when for financial reasons we switched to a fake tree (and have regretted it since but still haven't switched back yet). The reason behind this date is because in 1997 my grandfather died on December 3rd. That is a day before my oldest's birthday. It made for a really sad birthday for her that year as we all were very close to such a sweet, genuinely good person. Someone that has and always will be irreplaceable. We hoped it would change things going forward. It barely touched it that year even adding in the normal "pick your dinner, etc" stuff that comes with birthday's for the person. That being said, that is one tradition that pretty much has held as to when the tree gets done except for this year we are really behind on that.

    The next one is Christmas Eve. Like so many of you (and this is so interesting that so many of us do this!) we give pajamas as the 1 gift the kids get to open. My mother was the one that used to do it but now I do it (since the whole family falling out and my moving away lots changed). We also usually went out to dinner Christmas Ever. Again, my parents used to be the ones who took us out. When my sister and I had our own families and the kids were young we all went. As troubled times started and families didn't get along (my ex and sister) my parents alternated year to year who they took. Now we do it on our own and in the last 2 years we've pretty much decided to get take out (Chinese seems to be the choice) and satisfy with that as choices of places being open narrowed down as did the difficult child's behaviors and desires. This year is seems they are in better behavior period and if we go out earlier we might actually be able to GO somewhere. I'm just not sure I'm up to it or want to. As time comes closer I will decide that.

    Christmas day used to be the extended family got together and all had dinner together in late afternoon. No longer and again, it had to be rotated between my sister and I (who ever got Thanksgiving didn't get Christmas dinner but at least got a visit). I've had dinner for my family up until last year because as of then everyone's eating habits have changed. No one really wants to big dinner. We're just a small family now. Usually it was ham. I'm not sure this year what I'm going to do or have. I'm thinking maybe something really unique.

    Oh, Christmas morning was always presents when they were little then breakfast. It's gone reverse as they have gotten older now. Breakfast then presents now. Most of the time it's Pancakes and sausage. Sometimes we through in hashbrowns. One year we did a batch of specialized french toast in the oven.

    This year is so very different for me. So much has changed. My whole life it seems. My priorities have evolved in very strange ways as well. In some ways I feel very pressured to do things "before it's too late" and appreciate things I wouldn't normally in different ways and at the same time I also feel as though I'm "not going to stress over anything anymore". Weird place to be? I suppose but it's working and I think I'm actually finding a calmer place, a more peaceful place in life. Even with difficult child's stressing moments and there are and have been quite a few.

    Like the other day I found out mr busy, again, used my cc to make a "donation" to his favorite private gaming site so that he could gain some items he wanted. It WAS a donation and he had been begging for a gift card to do so for his birthday last month but I declined. It was not cool but the upside of this was that HE took entire responsibility for his actions, contacted the owner of the website (a friend-adult) and asked him to refund the money back to my cc. He was told by owner that it would mean he'd be banned for LIFETIME from the website if he did so. It also showed that he had the fortitude to face the consequences/music on his own knowing he'd loose major respect from that community that he's been part of for a year and look really bad. Long story short. After doing all of that ON HIS OWN, I conversed with the owner (I had previously never interacted with anyone) and explained some things to him about my son and his diagnosis as well as what that community has done for him and what he's currently doing (ie: the type school he's in, goals etc). In HONEST parent conversation to what I believe was another parent who apparently GOT it! :) My son is not banned but will not be monitored AND this owner is going to assist me in helping my son reach his goals in life (ie: make sure school comes first instead of gaming). He also has him being a beta tester for the games. I can't ask for anything more. It's a big accomplishment all the way around.

    As for a long wished for Christmas gift, I don't really know. I've actually done a lot in my lifetime when I sit back and think about it. Maybe not as much as I wanted to do but enough compared to many others. I'm thankful for what I've got and done. I'm thankful from where I was in life to where I've gotten to now. Sure, there is always more to go in life and perhaps someday I will reach that point as well. Life is every learning and growing. Many years ago in a class I was in we needed to write an epitaph for our grave stone (how morbid right?) The only thing I wanted on mine, and still do, is "She earned the respect of all those whose lives she touched or knew her." Nothing more, nothing less.