I seem to have gotten a bit off-track on my proposed “Things November” series. Honestly, there are some days in November that, for centuries, have just been… well… boring – plain and simple. Today is one of those.
So, with the holiday season in full swing and families starting to gather all around the country, I started thinking about traditions – particularly those that kick off Christmas. Most families have at least one tradition that gets passed from generation to generation – sometimes quite on purpose and sometimes it is just such a part of who we are, we don’t even know any different.
Here are a few traditions that I have either personally taken part of, or have wished I could!
I grew up an only child, so needless to say there were lots of presents…just for me. My mom was always too excited to wait until Christmas for me to open them, so beginning on or around the first of December, I was allowed to open a present a day – HER choosing of course! Amazingly, there were still a ton of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. I compromised on this little tradition with my own kids. They are allowed to open ONE present on Christmas Eve, but nothing else until Christmas morning!
My parents’ respective families all lived very far away from us, so we often ended up traveling long distances to visit over the holidays. There was one particular set of aunt/uncle/cousins that we visited where every year they made holiday cookies with colored cookie dough – red, white and green. They were in many different shapes – candy canes, wreaths, etc. They all tasted the same but I think it was just how festive they looked that made me completely fall in love with them. And of course, we were always sent home with a tin!
When I was a freshman in college, I dated a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Polish boy from Syracuse, New York. One of his family’s traditions was the making of pierogis, and let me tell you…he brought me back some frozen ones that he had saved for me…oh, myyyyyy…if they were that good frozen, what in the world must they have tasted like fresh?? Apparently it was quite the production, as everyone in the house was put to work to help make them!
My parents had some neighbors for many, many years who really liked to par-tay! They were well known for their big bashes, which always seemed to involve the host and hostess becoming what my mother called “schnockered”. And it’s no wonder…every year they would send us over a box of homemade bourbon balls and all I can says is WHOA! They must have used a whole bottle in the recipe. They were actually fun, sweet, delightful people who were very giving. I remember them fondly, although I have to admit I think I remember the smell of them first. ;-)
The one tradition that I started with my own kids and have carried through the years is what we call “special ornament shopping”. Every year, within a day or two of having set up our tree, we venture out to several stores in search of the perfect ornament for each of us to add to the tree for that year. The purpose behind this is so that when each child leaves home, they will have a full box of ornaments to decorate their own tree. Plus each ornament has special meaning to them. It’s really sweet to see almost-grown kids choosing carefully – sometimes painstakingly – their ornament.
What traditions do you and your family share that make the season memorable?