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What are your winter/holiday traditions?

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

I thought it might be fun, with the longest night of the year coming this weekend, to share some of the things you do now, or enjoyed doing as a child, during the dark and gloomy months of winter!

Holiday, outdoors, or whatever comes to mind.  It's fun learning a little something about each of you that isn't related to our shared illness.

Mine is from childhood.

My parents divorced when I was four, so the holidays were never quite the same after that.  I spent them at two different houses, and while it was fun getting double the gifts, I always wished that my parents would spend those days together.  They didn't, of course, but my dad did keep one tradition going...the cutting of the tree for the family home in which I lived with my mom.

Every year, he would show up with his truck and his ax, and drive us out into the forest.  We'd hike around for hours, on a quest for the perfect tree.  Which it never was (perfect, that is), because the forest is no tree farm, and every tree out there was pretty darn funky looking.

For some reason, that didn't matter.  We always found one that seemed perfect to us, my dad whacked it down (usually with a certain amount of cursing, it's true...they don't show that in most holiday movies), and off we went.  If the weather wasn't too bad, we would sit in the back of the truck with the tree (the old days!) and sing carols.

To this day I enjoy going out to hunt for the perfect tree (although these days we stick to the tamer enivronment of the tree farms).  Muddy, cold, often in the drizzly rain that we get so much of in the PNW...my husband does not get it!  We have great trees in lots a few blocks away from our house, so why not go there and save time and effort?

Hard to explain.  How to say "Honey, listening to you curse while you roll in the mud, trying to saw down a tree with a slightly rusty hack-saw, is music to my ears"?  But it is, it really is.  Funny how childhood sticks with us, even when we are allegedly all grown-up.

**So how about you guys?  Any tradtions, old or new, you would like to share?**

 

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

Every year with the exception of two years (due to colon cancer surgeries) I have spent Christmas with my daughter and ex-in-laws, so I find myself (and spouse) leaving where ever I am to head to Ohio to spend Christmas.  I wish Ann, yours could have been like my daughter's.  Her father and I as well as my ex MIL (now deceased) and ex FIL have always gotten together for Christmas dinner, no matter who our current spouses were or weren't at the time, they too got dragged to the Christmas dinner.  We even exchange gifts with each other.  My daughter has pictures of every Christmas with her whole family together and happiness spread to all that day.  I love Christmas more then any other time for that alone.  We used to have it at my ex-MIL's until my daughter left home and married, after that we've always met at my daughter's house for the merriment. I leave on the 24th to fly out for Christmas this year even though I was just there for her graduation ( her father and I sat together) I can't miss the Christmas tradition!

Winter Marie

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

It's so nice when the adults in a divorce can take the high road and act like actual grown ups.  My parents did their best, but it wasn't a great situation in general, esp when my mom found out about my dad's barmaid girlfriend...who is now my much-loved stepmother!  

Life is weird.

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

we divorced when our daughter was five.  I only disliked one girlfriend he brought for Christmas, I had forgotten about that.  LOL, we stayed cordial and friendly during dinner, but every picture I took, through the wonder of photoshop (my daughter couldn't stand her either, which might be why I didn't like her as well) she didn't appear in any of the photos that I gave my daughter later. We did have a good laugh over it though.

Winter Marie

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5510
Joined: Jan 2013

I have fond memories of Christmas. 

I still do many of the traditions from my childhood. 

We always have decotations hanging from the ceiling and of course balloons, lots of them. 

We always start off December with an Advent Calendar. The best ones are from Germany for some reason. 

There were never lots of gifts as a kid, usually something we wanted and something we needed (yes, the dreaded underwear gift), so for the most part we still do that. 

Food for me is a big part of the holiday season. I start on my birthday by baking my own Lemon Meringue Pie the day before so that I can have a slice for breakfast. 

Christmas dinner consists of Turkey, Bread Sauce (no gravy), peas, carrots and creamy, creamy mashed potatoes. And we follow that up with the traditional Christmas Pudding with a hard white sauce. No Sixpence to go in the pudding any more though. 

Crackers, as in the ones you pull. We have to have those, though the ones we get here in the States don't explode like the ones from my English childhood. We love the silly paper hats, cheap gift and funny jokes found inside. 

One of the traditions we started as a newly married couple 30 years ago was the reading of 'A Christmas Carol' by Dickens, and our family favourite adaptation of that is 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'. Silly I know, but we all love it and have to watch it once, if not twice. 

I love Christmas carols, and play them every day. I have them playing now. 

My husbands family are here in this small desert town, and their traditional Christmas dinner is homemade Ravioli made with a recipe handed down generations from his Italian side. So we get two Christmas dinners. 

There, you see how much I love Christmas. 

lilacbrroller's picture
lilacbrroller
Posts: 412
Joined: Jun 2012

My family had a Christmas tree business - land where they actually grew the trees, and a stand (plus wholesale as well.)  They did it for about 50 years and then we all got tired of it.  What I remember most about it is the smell of freshly cut wood, and of course the boughs.  Just wonderful.

So my tradition is to have a real tree.  I can no longer get family trees, of course, but do try every year whereever I live to find something green and fragrant and alive if possible.  One year I used a Norfolk island pine in a pot, and another year I spray painted a dead sisal stalk green and hung ornaments.  The previous year I used a live sisal stalk, but it rotted!  

This year I put up a 5 foot frasier fir and it is glorious!

The food I most associate with Christmas is salmon.  We eat a lot of it this time of year - baked salmon, salmon mousse, and smoked salmon.  Yum! Can't wait.

This year I started watching this TV program about a Christmas light competition - it is pretty good - but my all time favorite Christmas movie is "A Christmas Story" (you'll shoot your eye out.)

happy  holidays!

_Karin

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

but this is to Karin.

I LOVE A Christmas Story!  That movie is basically my childhood, right down to the parent swearing up a storm while trying to fix the furnace (although in my case, it was my mom, not my dad), and the desperate desire for a bb gun.  I think for many of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s, it rings true in many ways.

I really need to go watch that, so thanks for the reminder.

And salmon is interesting...are you in Canada?

lilacbrroller's picture
lilacbrroller
Posts: 412
Joined: Jun 2012

Hi, Ann-A. No not in Canada. that movie reminds me of my Dad's childhood - in the 30s and 40s - and my Grandmother, who by the way did give me a pink bunny suit like set of onesie pyjamas.  So goofy, and so embarassing!  

hummingbird cake sounds fantastic  (Ketziah) carrot cake without the carrots. 

 

I forgot to mention cookies. Every year, I buy the Better Homes and Garden annual cookie magazine and bake away.  This year I want to try a chocolate sesame recipe, and macarons - the colored sandwich cookies, not the coconut egg white drop cookies.  They're a bit tricky but I do really like them.  

Karin

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
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We do Christmas crackers too.  Everyone has to wear the silly hat throughout dinner.  It's the rule.

Do you ever do a roast at the holidays?  My family emigrated from England , and my father always wanted Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner.  I always wondered if that was really something English people ate traditionally, or whether my dad had just read one too many Horatio Hornblower novels!

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
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Joined: Jan 2013

We didn't have Roast as that was our weekly Sunday dinner. 

Turkey we just had once a year, at Chirstmas, so it was special. 

Thats not to say that others don't have a Roast. 

Of course, Yorkshire Pudding is wonderful, and I've no doubt your dad would get that any chance he could. 

danker
Posts: 1282
Joined: Apr 2012

For most of our married life we had a house with a cathedral ceiling.  So Christmas meant a live 12 to 14 foot live tree with about 1200 lights on it. A real treat for our children to go and find a tree big enough for us.  And decorations with some home made ornaments.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
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Joined: Oct 2011

Your kids must have loved it.  My dad built my family home with an A-frame living room for exactly that reason.

I'll bet decorating a tree that big muct have been a huge (but fun) project for everyone involved.

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
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Joined: Jan 2010

It has long been our tradition to gather at my parent's home to celebrate...because of all the households involved it usually is not Christmas day but either the weekend before or after Christmas.

My mother started a tradition with her gift giving.  She would wrap all different kinds of "extras" in the box...like a pound of sugar, a cake mix, a brick, a small log, whatever was at hand to help disguise the real gift.  For the greatgrands she started hanging a special ornament on her tree which contained some "folding money".  She would wrap the box the ornament came in, then each child would have to hunt fot the matching ornament on the tree.

One year, I put all the gifts for my grandchildren on the floor...tag side down.  The grands then sat in a circle around the pile and each got to pick a package in turn.  If it wasn't theirs they had to return it to the pile tag side down.  Another year we made it a scavenger hunt with clues in the packages rather than the gift.

This year I am giving "folding money" in addition to other gifts to the grands (6 plus sister's 2).  The each bill has been folded and put into a balloon.  To make it more interesting some of the balloons have play money instead.  Each grand is assigned a number which is written on 12 balloons.  All inflated 96 balloons will be mixed up in a very big box.  Each grand will have to find a balloon with their number on it and take it to one of the adults in charge of the scissors, in order to claim their prize.  Each will also be given a container to put their "loot" in.  Should make for a "popping" good time!

Marie who loves kitties

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

You really take the "money on the tree" concept to new heights.

Last year was the first for us to not have tree envelopes, as my mom was the one who always did that, for the "grands", as you say.

You're inspiring me to try to revive the tradition somehow...although I think I would have to draw the line at 96 balloons.  I hope you have someone helping you blow all those up!

ketziah35
Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

Has anyone seen the movie My Big Fat Greek wedding? Welcome to the Xmas without the Greeks! Well we have an open house policy and everyone is welcomed to come in. I told someone my mother is like the statue of liberty - send me your people that need love and comfort, which is cool, but we end up with about 10 fruitcakes, 5 hummingbird  cakes and several rum cakes, a 24 pound turkey, 2 full hams, a case of wine about 200 dollars of liquor mixed with Christmas music. It is a blessing to experince this with my family whom I love.  We have childrens activities and crafts. 

We give a lot away after we eat. Everyone gets something to take home. Sharing is the biggest tradition in my family (besides the sense of rebirth and hope through a nice little book that reminds my family we are not alone and we are individually loved).  When the family didn't have anything, my grandma always told us to add a little more to the  pot. She said compassion and love cross all kinds of religions boundaries. Someone else may need comfort and care from a good meal.  So now we have consistently have people from different  religions come over for Xmas. They enjoy the sense of family.

On Xmas eve the kids get crammed in a truck to go look for a charlie brown Xmas tree. My mother tried to teach us that life isn't perfect, but love is.

check out the menu (food is love down south!)

turkey

dressing and gravy

ham

potato salad

candied yams

mac and cheese 

cranberry sauce 

rolls and cornbread 

collard greens 

green beans

fruitcake

hummingbird cake(google it)

rum cake

sweet potato pie

sugared pecans

sugar cookies 

gingerbread men

chocolate chip cookies

 Whatever your tradition have a happy holiday with your family and cherish every moment of it!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

 

love ktz

 

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

Laughing

ketziah35
Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

Sure, but don't look at me if my 90 year old aunt has a little too much wine and starts to describe the location and song her kids were conceived to. These things happen and have happened as we sat there in shock lol.

 

 

Ps we simmer a pot of cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove to make the house smell like Xmas and put up 2 xmas trees.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

Just last night we had my husband's family over for dinner, and grandma shared some intimate details about her younger days with one of my daughters.  Possible due to the wine, or the "tis the season" cocktail I served before dinner.

I'm not sure a family gathering without at least one instance of inappropriate behavior on someone's part can even be considered a true family event!

Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011

I am so enjoying this thread.  Thanks AA for starting it. My parents loved Christmas and that was certainly passed on.  One of many favorite traditions in our family happened on Christmas Eve.  Before hanging our stockings my Mom would read the Infancy narrative from Luke's gospel followed by my Dad's resounding rendition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'.  We would then hang our stockings and put out a snack for Santa and the reindeer.  Lovely memories and lovely still to watch it continue into the next generations.

A Happy and Healthy Christmas to all!

CM

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
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Joined: Oct 2011

and *someone* always has to eat most of the cookies, and nibble on the carrots we put on the porch.

That someone is not me, needless to say.  That's a job for dad!

Thanks for sharing your memory and merry Christmas!

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 631
Joined: Jan 2010

are pleasant and varied.  As a child in the south we did not have snow every year but decorating our home was a very big deal. My father volunteered at a Christmas tree lot and would bring lots of excess evergreen that he would make into a huge 8' wreathe that would go around a large bay window outside the front of our house.  From the outside looking in it framed the Christmas tree inside perfectly.  I loved to go outside and look at it at night when the Christmas lights were on.  It took my breath away and the fact that my father made it, well, I just loved that.  The rest of the evergreen he would bring home would be placed everywhere in the house; I remember that lovely fresh pine smell fondly. Also, back in the 1950's it was still possible to safely go door-to-door Christmas caroling which I would do each year with the neighborhood kids ... I haven't thought of that in so many years.

As an adult, living in San Francisco with my agnostic artist husband I had to inititate him very slowly to celebrating and decorating for the holidays ... having a Christmas tree was just not cool. Through the years and after moving from sunny California to the dark cold of the winter in the northeast and then the midwest my husband finally surrendered to the beauty of twinkle lights, cinnamon brooms, and lots of evergreen everywhere in the dark of winter.

Our family took part in many different types of celebrations during the winter season over the years ... Catholic Mass, Boxing Day, Winter Solstice, Bodhi Day, and Mardi Gras. I can't say our traditions were really Christian, but since we were both raised in Christian homes we sort of chose what we enjoyed from the celebrations. I must have read our son every creation story from every religion there is when he was growing up.  But, we did have a Christmas tree, exchanged gifts, and always set out a little manger that my father had carved when I was a child. When our son was little I went so far as making footprints from my husband's boots with powder as if Santa had come in to deliver gifts ... kind of creepy when I think about it now:) Sometimes our family would have a reunion at Christmas in New Orleans. My brother and his family lived in a very old, large home in the Garden District and we would all be together there. The ceiling was very tall and so was the tree. My brother would play Christmas carols on the piano and we would all sing, most rather poorly, but with great gusto. 

This year is the first since my husband passed last summer but my son and I are determined not to give in to sadness or grief. We are going to volunteer on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day serving meals at a homeless shelter and then a safety house for women and children. Our decorating was simply placing those little window candles everywhere ... and it is all ok because we have our wonderful memories ... next year maybe we will restablish new traditions.

Whatever your beliefs, non-beliefs, whatever your traditions ... love one another, hold those you love close. Light a candle in this darkest time of year for all those who are suffering everywhere. Peace to you all. ~ Cynthia

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

that's very beautiful.  I think it's wonderful that you and your son will be sharing your goodness with others, as a way of marking the season.

Hugs and love to you both.

ketziah35
Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Xmas if you celebrate it. It seems that we have started a new tradition.

My 5 year old niece asked if we could take some of the hummingbird cake and apple cake to the police officers and firemen.  She said they may want a snack when they work. So guess what we did, we supported her and took some cake to the police station and the fire station! 

Sharing is caring!

Love ktz

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