Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun Friday XIII: Holiday Traditions


Hi everyone,

Thank you for doing such an awesome job on the last Fun Friday writing exercise! You shared some fantastic winter memories and survival tips. Well done.

It's getting close to December now, and for a lot of people, that means the beginning of the holiday season. To get us into the spirit of things, let's talk about holiday traditions.

What's your favorite holiday tradition? Who started it? If it came from your parents, do you carry it on for your own family?

It doesn't have to be a Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa tradition--if you have wonderful ways of celebrating Easter, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July, feel free to write about them.

For me, this question is easy. My favorite holiday tradition is the Christmas stocking. My parents always filled a stocking full of little gifts for me at Christmas, and around the time I was twelve, they decided to each do one for each other, too. However, it was quickly apparent that some people are better shoppers than others, as Dad filled my Mom's stocking almost entirely with golf balls that first year (pink golf balls, neon golf balls, golf balls in a plastic candy cane, etc.) After that, I was "hired" to do the shopping for both parents, and to this day, they each give me money and I act as the personal Christmas stocking shopper. No matter how busy I get, I always enjoy this task...it never fails to get me into the holiday spirit.

Part of our tradition is that every single stocking stuffer has to be individually wrapped. We save scraps of the previous year's wrapping paper for this. Then, on Christmas morning, we take turns opening the little gifts one by one. It usually takes us two hours to finish with the stockings, but it's so much fun. It is absolutely my favorite part of Christmas, and one I still look forward to like a little kid.

I can hardly wait to hear about your traditions. Happy Friday!

5 comments:

  1. When I found out I was going to be a Mom (something I was told wouldn't be possible) I started thinking about holidays and how I wanted to make things special for our little boy. We started some new traditions for us three, and we incorporated some older family ones in as well.

    Baking together is so special as my Ukrainian Grandma was such an awesome cook and baker. She would make TONS of food...so I make at least one of her favorite recipes each year.

    We do family Christmas photos in a fun way every year...last year we were by a bon fire in our woods and by the old truck my husband's Grandpa bought new in the 50's.

    Now that Luke is old enough we do letter to Santa, leave hay and water out for the reindeer and snacks in side for the Old Man.

    My absolute favorite tradition though is putting the baby Jesus in the nativity on Christmas morning...and reading the Christmas story together around the fire. Feels like family, feels like home.

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  2. My family has had a number of holiday traditions throughout the years. When I was very young we were always allowed to choose one gift to open on Christmas Eve. I would try to pick something small and leave all the big gifts for the next day.

    Another childhood tradition would involve my brother and I. We would wake up at what we thought was the middle of the night but more likely it was just very early in the morning, and the two of us would sneak down to the Christmas Tree and check out our socks. For some reason we always knew there was going to be a flashlight in the sock so we’d fish out the flashlight, check out the stocking contents and compare with each other before replacing everything and going back to bed.
    Another tradition began after my parents lost their home and the entire contents to a house fire. The very first Christmas, instead of going out and buying a bunch of generic Christmas tree decorations we decided that each person would buy everyone else in the family a personalized ornament for the tree. Christmas Eve was then relegated to opening the ornaments and placing them on the tree. Since there were four of us that meant 12 new decorations each year, each of them unique and reflecting the personality of the recipient. My mother would get miniature kitchen appliance and gardening ornaments, my father would get tiny boats, canoes or fish. My brother, being musically inclined, would receive musical instrument decorations. It made for an eclectic tree each year. After 5 or 6 years we had to stop that tradition as there were more decorations than the tree could hold.

    Unfortunately these days, with everyone having extended families, it’s rare that we can all get together at Christmas. But I am beginning new traditions with my children.

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  3. My family has an amazing winter tradition. Every year, on New Year's Day, we make chinese food. It is a feast to behold. It is also quite a long process. Everyone helps. The morning starts out with chopping meat and putting it into bowls to marinate. Then, at around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, everything that must be deep fried is deep fried. Beef strips for ginger beef, pork chunks for sweet and sour pork. Then we start chopping vegetables for the stir-fries. The vegetables chopped and put into bowls by length of time needed to cook and by dish. By the time the vegetables are all chopped our counters and table are a virtual cornucopia of colours.

    Around this time, I also get to do my appointed task - Stuffing the wontons. A little bit of meat is saved from each marinating dish (beef, chicken, and pork) and it all goes into the food processor with some chunks of green onion and I don't actually know what else. We get out the wonton wrappers and I start stuffing. I have a system. I am good at it.

    I have been stuffing wontons since I was five or six years old. I think it was the first year of the chinese New Year's Feast when everyone was helping to chop vegetables, but I was too small, and not to be trusted with a knife. So my mom got out the wonton wrappers and stuffing and showed me how to do one. Stuffing wontons was not the preferred job. Your fingers get slimy from the filling, and coated in rice starch from the wrappers. If you like clean hands, it is not a job for you. I was proud as anything to have the responsibility to do this one job. It was my job. Twenty-five years later it is still my job.

    Hours later, when all the food is stir-fried and sauced, we all sit down to our feast. There is always too much food. Every person has at least one dish (and usually two or three) that they have helped to create, whether it was my mom with the sauces or my sister with the vegetables or my brother-in law washing the woks. It is a day of togetherness and an evening of family. Even if I cannot be home for Christmas, I always to be home for the New Year's day chinese feast.

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  4. Last Christmas eve I wanted to start some new traditions with our new little family in our new home. We were going to walk in the snow to the Cathedral for mass, while listening to the church bells and then return for a French apres ski-type meal to warm up to (onion soup, tarteflette and a salad, and creme caramel for dessert). Then open gifts and play board games (Cranium is a favourite!).

    My well planned event didn't take into consideration the "people factor". Some people came late because they didn't want to go to church, others left early because they were tired, and everyone left the table to open gifts before dessert, because the tired early-leavers were going soon. The board game boxes were never opened. The gifts were opened and everyone left within half an hour.

    This year, I am preparing nothing and inviting no one. We are spending an exquisite evening as a family of four. We will probably eat something kid friendly and go to mass in the snow, listening to church bells, but the new tradition is just us - an intimate family night. A peaceful night among the craziness that is Christmas!

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  5. My family's Christmas stocking tradition was not to wrap the small gifts, usually the batteries or what not that was needed for something Santa put under the tree. But always the toe of the hand-knitted stockings were full of unshelled nuts and tangerines. I don't remember each Christmas's gifts, but there is the warmth of that constant- the nuts and the tangerines.
    Kath

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