Sorry, I was wrong (and other holiday traditions)

Chase: I listened to Christmas music in the car today. Not like I was flipping through stations and happened to hear a Christmas song; I intentionally tuned my radio to a Christmas station. I guess I’m not a Christmas purist, after all.

I was thinking today about what I expect from Christmas. Not in terms of gifts – I mean how I imagine Christmas Day will play out. And even Christmas Eve. The Romgi and I both grew up with Christmas traditions, some stronger than others, some more enjoyable than others. In my family, we went to see the luminarias in Gordon Valley on Christmas Eve. Then I’d try to go to sleep…it was a lot easier once I discovered Excedrin PM (once I was old enough to take it, of course!). I still have trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas morning, I’d wake up at some ungodly hour and go open my stocking. The rule at our house was that you could open your stocking when you woke up, but presents waited until everyone (meaning our parents) was awake. Our stockings usually had some cash from grandparents, some trinkets or toys, goodies like Lindt truffles, and a chocolate orange. I’ve come to associate Christmas morning with feeling sick from eating too much chocolate on an empty stomach. You know you’ll be sick but you just can’t help eating more…

This is how we did our present-opening: one person would go find a present for each person, and we’d go around and open them one at a time. The problem there is that you can definitely see who got the most presents that year! After all the gifts were opened, and the living room was pleasantly covered in wrapping paper, boxes, and new toys, my mom would go make her to-die-for crescent rolls. I will make them for you sometime. Maybe. If I feel like sharing. Christmas comes but once a year, and it’s the same for those crescent rolls. Sometimes I looked forward to those more than to my presents. Try one and you’ll understand.

Christmas dinner is in the early afternoon, right? That meant we had several hours to eat more candy and more crescent rolls, play with our new toys, and take a nap. The rest of the day always seemed like a freebie. You could snack whenever you wanted, enjoy your gifts, sleep as much or as little as seemed right, and finally go to bed content and full.

When the Romgi and I got married, it finally occurred to me that not everyone does Christmas the same way.

In the Romgi’s family, they have a Christmas Eve program. There are specific scriptures and hymns as well as a script telling the story of Christ’s birth. Later, they eat plum pudding that has coins baked in it. Whoever finds the smallest coin gets to open a Christmas present first. I have to say, I’m a big fan of opening a present on Christmas Eve (as long as there are still presents left to open the next morning, of course). And on Christmas there are traditional dishes for dinner, like goose and a surprisingly good brussels sprouts dish.

The worst thing about growing up is that now I have to help cook dinner instead of napping or playing with toys. The best thing is that now I can (to some extent, while we’re sharing Christmas with family) help decide what dishes we’re going to eat. And this year the Bwun will be big enough to understand that he’s getting new toys. That will definitely be worth it.

What Christmas traditions did you grow up with? What are new ones you want to start?

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4 thoughts on “Sorry, I was wrong (and other holiday traditions)

  1. Jim Lewis says:

    Happy to help with the traditions. I know that my family of origin certainly had some that are different than what you grew up with. Part of the delight of being the PARENTS is realizing that you are the ones who get to continue, discontinue, change, or implement your own Christmas traditions. We, of course, will miss having you with us, but we totally understand how cool it is to have your own “family Christmas.” Love you lots!

  2. KHL says:

    I never, ever got sick from eating chocolate. And we used to do Christmas Eve stuff too, but, well, you know our family had challenges, and some wars aren’t worth fighting. I’m glad you like all of those in-law food dishes. (I thought after growing up that maybe I had misjudged brussel sprouts. Nope, I found that they are still horrible.) You can blame me for the no-presents-on-Christmas-Eve part. Dad would have been more than happy to go with opening one or all. Any way you celebrate, we hope it’s great for your little family!

  3. Jennifer says:

    For me, my favorite part of Christmas has always been the carols of the season. My family would go caroling to the neighbors, my high school buddies and I went caroling to assisted living facilities and old folks homes; we sang in the car, around the piano, with choirs, at church.

    For me, this has been the biggest adjustment in our melding of traditions. While my husband likes to sing, his family is definitely not the gather-roundst-the-piano type. This means I do a lot of belting Christmas carols by myself. Chase better beware, though, because I fully intend to do some caroling this year.

    On the flip side, we have inherited some fantastic traditions from my in-laws –Christmas morning means opening presents in brand-new pajamas (opened Christmas Eve) instead of waiting for the whole family to be fully dressed before we could look at/open anything. Also, I mark the fifth generation of my husband’s family to make his family’s traditional Christmas ebelskivers, which are delicious.

  4. Kate says:

    Our Christmas day was pretty much exactly the same as yours. :) We always got “food bags” with our stockings, and they included food my Mom wouldn’t let us have during the year. This is usually where we got “sugar cereal”. We would get treats that we loved that we normally couldn’t have. I loved it!! Josh and I still do this.

    Christmas Eve has my favorite traditions though. We always have avocados with baby shrimp and fry sauce (no judging until you’ve had it), Chicken Cordon Bleu, and a few other dishes that we continue to have each year. Dessert is always Rice Creme with a hidden almond. The person that gets the almond gets a little prize. Once it was a box of checkers. That wasn’t nearly as cool as the time it was a giant jar of jelly bellys – or the time it was fudge covered oreos. Mmm…

    We picked up the tradition of new pajamas on Christmas Eve (from Josh’s family). It’s definitely been fun to pick and choose the traditions we want to carry on.

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