Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Our RCIA class the other night got me thinking about the Christmas traditions that we have in my family.  *B* and I are also in the process of making some traditions of our own.

Advent Calender
We have a wooden advent calendar that we put out every year since our first year together.  *B* and I are particularly fond of Lindt truffles, so every day we each get a chocolatey treat.  Yum!

Christmas Movies
Christmas usually means lots of movies in our family.  These are some of our favorites:
  • Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Mickey's Christmas Carol
  • Ernest Saves Christmas
  • The Santa Clause
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone
  • White Christmas
  • Miracle on 34th Street
In my family, Santa Claus brings the tree (at least until we're all old enough to know better), which meant that my parents stayed up until 2:30 am decorating the tree as well as putting presents out.  When I was about three, I ran down the hallway toward my parents while they were getting ready. They caught me before the surprise was ruined, but it made them change their game plan.

For a long time after (even after I stopped believing though my brother still did), my parents had us sleep in their bed.  It was attached to a bathroom, and they tied the doors shut so we couldn't get out.  We watched a tape my dad made even before I was born.  It had been added to a little over the years, but not much.  In order, we watched Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Ernest Saves Christmas, and The Santa Clause.  When I was younger, I'd pass out just before Mickey's Christmas Carol.  It's safe to say that I can now stay up the whole way through.

Christmas Tree
Like I said, Santa brings the tree until the kids are old enough to know better.  Once we all knew, we started going out with our parents to cut down the Christmas tree.  We've frequented a couple of places over the years.  One of my favorite had free hot cider that they'd serve you while they bundled up your tree.  It wasn't always fun though.  Once, when I was younger, my dad held up the saw to show me how big the tree should be.  When he brought down the saw, it sliced a bit off the top of my finger.  It grew back, but every year I think about it.
Regardless of how we get our tree, one mainstay is C7 light bulbs - the painted ones, not the clear ones.

*B*'s family always had small lights, but I insisted on keeping this one going, and he obliged.  I think he even likes the big lights.  When we put on the lights, we always do the "squint test".  Some people know about this trick and some don't.  If you stand back and squint at the tree, you can see holes and bright spots in the lights so you know where to readjust.  We also use bubble lights in place of some of the burned out bulbs:

The light bulbs heat up, boiling the colored liquid inside.  We even have a bubble light nightlight in our kitchen that we just never took down.

As for ornaments, we got new ornaments every year when I was little.  We'd always go to the same place.  They had hot cider, a really nice little deli, a Halloween section, and tons of trees decorated with ornaments for sale.  My brother and I each got one choice of ornament.  Sadly, the cider went first, then the deli, and now the Halloween section.  They still have a nice selection of ornaments, but it's not worth the hour trek anymore.  Maybe we can find somewhere close to home to fill that role.

Christmas Dinners
This tradition will take a nosedive this year given the fact that I'll be on my honeymoon, but I'm sure it will be back next year.  Every year since I was 16, I've gone to dinner on Christmas Eve.  It's always a special restaurant that we don't go to during the year.  They're rarely the same restaurant from year to year, but it's always a nice splurge. In the years to come, I have a feeling we'll be going to Christmas Eve Mass before or after dinner, too.

On Christmas, my small extended family gets together and has Christmas dinner.  As of late, it's been a weird situation (what with my parents getting divorced), but everyone's still there regardless.

The Hat
On Christmas day, there is a person designated to pick up presents and give them to others by wearing a hat.  It's traditionally been a red and white Santa hat, but lately it's been a little snazzier.  Right now, I really want the singing, dancing hat they have at Wal-Mart to be our new hat, but we'll see how it goes.

Stockings are always the last part of Christmas morning.  Since I was little, my mom has put giant fruit in the toe of the stocking.  My dad and brother get oranges, and I get pomegranates.  Oh, how I love pomegranates.  The fruit ends up being part of our Christmas breakfast of bacon and eggs.

What are your Christmas traditions?

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