I know I posted about some of my traditions in last week's Christmas Meme post... But it really got me thinking about how many Christmas Traditions I really do have or that we had growing up.
Some of my friends claim to never have had any traditions growing up. Just remember, a tradition can be something small and simple. It's just basically something that you do every year. I bet if you think about it, you can come up with some family traditions.
I think it's important to have traditions within a family because it helps to build unity. Additionally, it makes us feel "safe and secure". Meaning, it is something that we come to count on; the expected. So, today, I thought I'd share traditions my family had growing up. Without further adieu, here is some more bloggy love on Christmas Traditions.
In My Family Growing Up...
1- Christmas Stockings. I can remember being in a one-level house, with no fireplace and my mom hung our stockings on nails around the door frame of the coat closet. It was the only place she could find, and yet it worked. Plus, it can get kind of tricky to find a place to hang 9 stockings! In another house we did have a fireplace and mantel, and in the last house, she hung them on the stair rail. We knew that among some other little candy or gift our stocking would ALWAYS contain 1 orange, 1 candy cane and some nuts.
2- Gingerbread Houses. When I was in 4th grade, we started making gingerbread houses. We had so much fun that year, that we did it every year since. My mom would also have us enter them in the local bakery's gingerbread house contest. There were children's categories, and in a small town, with 7 of us kids, one of us was always bound to win! One year I did a HUGE barn, complete with farm animals! I don't think I appreciate back then how much work my mom put into baking all of that gingerbread! After we took pictures, and after the contest, we often gave our houses away to friends, neighbors or teachers.
3- Decorating. December 1st was the big day at our house. It didn't matter what day of the week it was, that was the day we decorated our house for the holidays. My mom would go down to the basement storage and retrieve the boxes. She had so many Christmas tchotchkes, it was like a Christmas showroom! In spite of her love of Christmas decorations, we only ever had a small artificial tree. It was about 4 ft tall, and she would also set it on a table. The nice thing was that with nine people, there was room under the table and around the tree for the gifts to fit.
4- The Nativity Story. The Sunday before Christmas my mom would always read us the Nativity Story from the Bible.
5- Secret Santa. My parents didn't have a lot of money. So, we would only get one gift under the tree and something little in our stockings. When I was about ten, a few of my sisters and I decided to convince the rest of our family to allow us to draw names. We each had to find a way to earn $5 and we'd draw names and then have to get something for that person. As kids we really liked this. We lived in town, in walking distance to the variety dime store, so shopping for each other was a breeze. I remember when Ruthie, the youngest drew my name for three years in a row. Apparently, she'd get to the dime store with an older sibling in tow, and had this big idea to spend her $5 on CANDY!!! The first time she had my name, I ended up with like 3 boxes of Nerds Candy (which were only like .35 at the time). Guess what I got the next 2 years? Yup. Nerds! The 4th year, I told my mom someone else had better draw my name, or an adult needs to take her shopping! hahaha! We still draw names to this day.
6- Christmas Wake Up Call. When we were really little my mom used to wake us up on Christmas morning by playing her Christmas records, such as Bing Crosby. Then one year, we got an organ. She decided that would be a delightful way to wake us up... play Christmas Carols on the organ! Yeah...I don't think we were thrilled. So then, the next Christmas, someone asked, "Are you gonna play the organ again?" I don't quite remember how it all came about, but the deal was if the kids woke up first, we got to go down and wake up the parents; otherwise it would be "Mom's Choice"! We were up first, and ran down and jumped on their beds, screaming "Merry Christmas!" After that, that amended rule was no wakey-wakey before 5:30am. I secretly think that most Christmas mornings my parents were awake first and could hear us scheming to come down the stairs.
7- Gift Opening. My parents always wanted to make sure that we appreciated and said thank you for the gift we received. Therefore, ripping into gifts was unheard of. No, we took turns opening our gifts. We'd always start with the youngest, in turn, to the oldest. I remember one year, my dad said that we were gonna change things up a bit and open our gifts from oldest to youngest. I thought Ruthykins would pee her pants. We reverted back to tradition the following year, and at our Family Christmas parties, we still open them from youngest to oldest.
8- Christmas Waffles. One year my dad got my mom a waffle iron for Christmas. We had waffles for breakfast that morning, and every Christmas morning while still at home. Hmmm... I miss those waffles!
9- Family Play Day. My dad's extended family is quite large, so we often had his family's Christmas party on a day other than Christmas. My mom's family was a bit spread out and farther away, so it was a rare occasion to see them at the holidays. Therefore, it was just the 9 of us. We usually spent the day just playing. We'd play with our new toys, we'd play board games, we'd watch new movies we got, and if there was snow outside, we'd go out and play in the snow. A few years, we'd go sledding, and then when my dad started traveling more, my mom would take us to the movies. Back then, the theaters were empty on Christmas day. I guess everyone has caught on since, cuz now they are crowded!
10 - Christmas Treats. My dad always loved to make hot wassail on Christmas, where as my mom often made my Aunt Glenda's Boiled Custard Drink. Both are warm and delicious. Also, my dad would make his "famous" microwave caramel corn and of course we'd get tons of treats from the neighbors! Another staple at family parties during the holidays was Grandma Goldie's Date Pudding, or chocolate dipped pretzels. Hmmm!
That being said, did you know that we did not grow up believing that Santa Claus brought us our gifts? Nope. We always knew it was mom and dad. But there was a man, Don Metzler, who dressed like Santa and came to our house nearly every year until I was about 10. He would bring us little goody sacks and we always had fun with that. But we just weren't raised with Santa. Many of my friends think this is sad, sad, sad. Honestly, I do NOT feel gypped. I mean, look at all my family did?!?!?! We still had stockings, and presents, and treats, etc. And my parents weren't like "Anti-Santa" or anything. It's just how we were raised is all.
Now... hopefully this got you thinking about some of the traditions YOU had...