Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Traditions, Part Two

I've already mentioned the traditions my Mom made part of our Christmases growing up (see {{HERE}} if you missed it).  So, today, I am going to share the traditions from my father's side.

If you've read any of my blog posts over the last few years, you already know my father was raised Amish.  In fact, you probably get sick of me saying it over and over and over.  But it was part of my upbringing, so not really easy to ignore.  Well, one thing that is fairly typical in Amish communities is that they have large families.  My father's family would be about average, by comparison.  My grandparents "only" had 7 children.  And I think, if I am counting right (although, I may have lost count), there are about 40 grandchildren.  That is a lot of family to plan Christmas for, especially when it comes to coordinating schedules.  It would've also been an imposition on many of the families to purchase gifts for each other.  So, this is how we did Christmas on the Miller side.

My grandparents and each of the siblings would take turns "hosting" the Family Christmas gathering each year.  Sometimes, the family party was in their home, sometimes a family cabin, or the town scout cabin, or the basement of a local church; just depending on who was in charge that year and where they chose to host it.  Typically, the party was held on a Saturday, although once in a while a Sunday afternoon.  We'd usually begin gathering in around 11am.  The hosts would prepare the main dish and everyone else would bring a few potluck items.  Also, everyone would bring homemade treats for the "treat table" (always a hit with the kids!). We would snack until the food was ready and then stuff ourselves full.

Then, as typical with Amish culture, the men would mix and mingle together in one area while the women and children in another.  Stories were often swapped, and tons of laughter would ensue.  Then, my grandmother would beckon us all together, usually in a large circle and she'd hand out Christmas Carol books.  And we pretty much sang the carols from cover to cover.  She also loved for the grandchildren to come together to sing the 12 Days of Christmas, complete with actions.  (Yes -- I still know all of the actions, too.)  I remember one year, when I turned 11, she gave me my own carol book for Christmas.  I still have it and love it.

After the carols, we'd continue snacking and chit-chatting and the host would usually serve coffee and homemade herbal tea.  My grandmother would always have a little gift for the Aunts and my Grandfather often had a little something for the Uncles. The rest of the afternoon often included things like playing games, skits, pranks, my Uncle playing his Hammered Dulcimer and more chit chat.  Sometimes, the left-overs were reheated and we'd have supper before heading back to our respective homes.

Now, when my own parents and siblings get together for our Annual Miller Christmas Party, we incorporate a few of those traditions too.  We always have a candy/treat table.  The host/hostess always plans the main dish and the rest of us bring potluck items.  After we eat and do gifts, often times we bring out our own carol books and sing along.  And if my sister can talk them into it-- some of the kids will "perform" the 12 Days of Christmas.  Sometimes we have little skits or pranks, and sometimes they want us to do a mini-talent show.  We usually spend the rest of the day playing games and chit-chatting and if we stay long enough, then will will reheat leftovers for dinner or order take out.  :)

Thanks Dad, for having an awesome family that passed on some of their traditions to us!


okeydokeyifine said...

The opening of the gifts from the youngest to oldest came from Dad's side. In our family it was a free for all and we never really knew what someone else got. By taking turns we could see what others rec'd and be part of their joy and glee.

okeydokeyifine said...

His family also had the drawn names thing. We did that for a few years until there became too many additions to the family, then the gift exchange went away and we just got together for the good times.

EmmaP said...

Well -- good to know about more of the traditions that came from his family. See -- I wouldn't have ever known if I hadn't blogged about it! He should "share" more... tee hee.

Puphigirl said...

The jokes/pranks that I liked were from Leo's family. I remember they had chocolate covered plastic grapes and mixed it in with other goodies. Another year they covered cotton balls in chocolate. This is a prank that I have carried out a few times.

I can't get my own family to perform the 12 Days of Christmas, but I am able to get students & peer tutors in my Special Ed. class to perform with me. It is a great workout.

greenolive said...

Could you have Keenan video you and Naomi performing 12 days of Christmas? I'd love to see it.