About three hours after Halloween had officially ended, all of the grocery stores in town immediately switched their displays to Christmas. I found this out the hard way, while shopping for a bag of discounted fun size Milky Ways (PS: I’m pretty sure that the term ‘fun size’ when applied to a tiny-ass candy bar was my first lesson in irony).
Now that Mitch and I are a family, we’ve been talking a lot about holiday traditions. His grandpa warned us years ago that our first major fight would occur over where to spend Christmas in the first year of our marriage. In order to skip that fight, I agreed to traveling the 500+ miles, 8 months pregnant, while the worst snowstorm in the history of the world was being predicted. Oh yeah, and our car heater went on the fritz that morning, and our wind shield wiper broke as we were leaving town. We made it to Minneapolis, spent somewhere around 6 hours with his family, and then decided to turn back to Nebraska before they closed the interstate(s). We made it to Des Moines, at which point they closed I-35 behind us and I-80 in front of us, and we ended up having dinner with a wonderful family called the Rocketships.
Well, as much as we love the Rocketships, we don’t really want that to set a precedent for our Christmases.
Mitch and I come from super different families, and as such, have super different traditions.
In my family– when we were very young, on Christmas Eve we would each select one gift to open (usually, it JUST SO HAPPENED that this gift was really cute pajamas, so that the Christmas pictures of the next morning were awesome). My mom would make oyster stew, which is better then it sounds. And then on Christmas Day, our doors were open to the public– literally. My dad would set up amplifiers, microphones, and we would dig out every instrument we own. Do you have any idea how many hand drums my brother collected over the years? And one year, somehow, we ended up with three french horns. People would stream in and out of the house all day, snacking, drinking, and playing music. To be honest, I don’t really remember any gifts I’ve ever been given. All of my memories are about the music.
In Mitch’s family, they would travel down to Minneapolis every year and spend Christmas Eve with his aunt. They would go to the Christmas Eve service, and then open presents. The next morning they would go to his grandparents and open more presents, and eat lots of food, and also participate in probably the coolest ongoing Christmas tradition I’ve ever seen. The whole family– cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc– gets together and sits in a circle. Everyone lights a candle in a special holder– I don’t know the actual history of the holders, or if there is one, but they’re sweet looking, in any case– and then, starting with the youngest, everyone says what they are most thankful for that year, and what their wishes are for the next year. Someone writes down the wishes and the next year they go through them again– they have a notebook of them, you can look back over the years and see what people wished back in the day. Mitch has all kinds of memories about wishing to make hockey teams and win tournaments, and then wishing for scholarships and acceptance letters, and then, a few years ago, wishing for me. How sweet is that?
We also want to make a tradition that is all about our family, something that Maren will say, “My family always does ______________” And then fill in with something really cool that makes all of her friends go, “Whoa! All we do is eat ham and watch football!”
So… blogosphere… I’m looking to become a tradition thief. What are your traditions?