Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions

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...


RhondaLue said...

we'd always open one present christmas eve, from an aunt or something. We'd have a ham lunch/dinner (linner, if you will), and grandma would come over later.

When we had kids we always took the whole fam to my parents on Xmas day and sometimes it would take my parent's following us home in their truck because our vehicle wouildn't fit all the gifts they got for us and the kids! Those were the good ol' days, for sure.

Kaye Butler said...

Like RondaLue we'd always open one present on Christmas Eve, and it was always PJ's. We still do it. Yesterday Taylor wanted to know if she had to open her PJ's or could she pick a present...nope, PJ's it is!

I broke tradition this year, for 36 years there has been a popcorn string on our tree. I just haven't had the time this year. I put ribbon on it instead. It looks a little sad. I may find time before Christmas Eve, who knows. You may ask how I know this seeing that I just turned 36. I have yearly pictures of the tree....I retired the 35 year old tree last year and got a new one.

My dads parents on Christtmas Eve, My mom's mom at noon on Christmas Day, my mom's dad (Papaw Clark) on Christmas Day night or left overs.

Now, the girls go to their mom's parents house on Christmas Eve and we go to Tim's parent's on Christmas Day. I see my family whenever because they all live at least5 hours away...Scottie being the farthest away in Alaska...

Alice in Wonderland said...

Emma, I hope that you enjoyed my piece on the traditions of hanging up Christmas stockings!
The mean comment that you had lately got me looking into the real Saint Nicholas! I hope that it helped you out!
Hope that you have a great Festive season, and I wish you everything that you would wish for yourself!
Have a great time!
Big hugs!

BlueCastle said...

Your traditions sound so fun. :) We are slowly building up our own traditions.

I wanted to be sure and stop over and wish you a very Merry Christmas in case I don't get by before then. :) Merry Christmas, I hope you have a really great holiday.

okeydokeyifine said...

I grew up with the whole nine yards of Christmas, Santa Claus, mistle toe, Christmas Eve mindnight service at church, all the food and trimmings, the sneaking downstairs to see what Santa had left under the tree and in the stocking which was hung by the fire. House decortated to the hilt and the front windows painted with Christmas scenes. The huge REAL tree that was so decorated you could not even see any GREEN. But I ended up marrying a man that received a few gifts on Christmas and mostly gathered for food and good fun and all without any decorations. So we compromised. We had a few of my traditions coupled with a few of his. And we started this the first year we were married. Our little girl got one gift, as did we. This continued on with all the children, however I do not count stocking treats as presents.
I enjoyed walking down memory lane to my own Christmas of yore and the Christmases I had with you children. Made me snile, made my day. Thanks

Susie said...

Growing up, we celebrated St. Nick's Day which was basically a small preview of what was to come...some candy, small toys, etc. I have carried that tradition over for my kids and it really gets the holiday mood going for the rest of the month:-)

Puphigirl said...

I miss getting still in their shells peanuts and an orange. I have resorted to giving myself a chocolate orange in my stocking.

Jennifer Rae said...

Oranges in our stockings, opening stocking first Christmas morning. The Nativity Story Christmas eve. Oh and mom made a food buffet and we snack all day, no formal dinner!

Ruthykins said...

i remember a year when dad said the earliest we could get up was 4:30 am. just be glad i didn't get your name this year. you'd be getting a bunch of nerds since i'm feeling spiteful that you thwarted my attempt to be rid of the name drawing this year.

Sweet Sassy Molassy said...

My wife and I buy each other an ornament for the tree each year. We have done that since the second christmas we dated. My grandmother seem to always have fudge with and without nuts. She would also have clam chowder available.