Holiday Traditions, New & Old
Traditions. They're what make the holidays really special, right? These are the times that our bizarre little family rituals become life-long memories and usually become the very things we look forward to when we gather with our family or friends for holidays.
I looked forward to my families traditions growing up, and now my little family is still building our traditions together, and they'll continue to change—just a bit—as time moves on. This year, for example, we've decided to change our previous Christmas morning cinnamon rolls into Christmas morning ebelskivers, in honor of my Gramps. I love creating these rituals that we'll repeat, over and over, as our kids grow up, and I love learning about other people's traditions, too.
These are few traditions I find particularly lovely, and I hope you'll enjoy them, too. You can borrow and adjust them for your family, or just enjoy knowing they exist out there. Either way, let's revel in tradition for a moment, shall we? Here. Tevye will get us started.
Okay, so let's start with traditions I wish my family participated in. And we might. If I can get organized enough. And if I can make them make sense with our holiday traditions. Ha. Haha. Ahahahahaha.
The Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood," in which Icelanders give each other books on Christmas Eve and then (because they are brilliant people) SPEND THE NIGHT READING. I mean. C'mon. It is the PERFECT tradition. This one is my goal. Just gotta work on my little Smartling and teach him to read, stat.
While I'm not Jewish, I will joyfully partake in any opportunity to learn more about pretty much any holiday tradition, and Hannukah has some of the coolest. And some of the most delicious, including eating latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). These foods—cooked in oil—are traditionally eaten during Hanukkah as a symbol of the legend of the jar of oil that lasted for eight days. We always tell the Hannukah story of the Maccabees around the holidays, and we try to teach the kids about other winter holidays like Kwanzaa, Solstice, Mawlid an-Nabi, and Chinese New Year. I have much more to learn, though, and look forward to learning about world traditions with my kiddos.
Telling the kids about Santa in this way and then Secret Santa-ing the crap out of our neighbors. I love that this keeps the spirit of the story alive, so the magic is still there. I'm hoping to do this with the older Smartling for sure... possibly even this year.
And these are some of the traditions that began with my family growing up that we're continuing:
An annual Christmas tree ornament. My mom is a crafty lady, and she made ornaments for our entire extended family every year. She's also ballsier and has more energy than me, apparently, because I don't do it for the entire family every year... BUT... I do make them for our family every year and try real hard to get them to family and friends that I'll see that holiday. My grandma also started getting me an ornament every year since I was born, and she's continued that tradition with me, my Smartner, and my kids... and I love it. Having a lifetime of ornaments from both my mom and my grandma is amazing. A tree full of memories. Which reminds me... we're gonna need a bigger (fake) tree.
Eating shrimp creole on Christmas Eve. Apparently this one started because my parents were looking for an easy, delicious meal to make the day before the giant, traditional Christmas meal... but I especially love it because it's a hilarious nonsensical choice for our zero percent Creole family. Anyway, I look forward to it every year, and I'm sticking to it forever and ever in all its nonsensical glory.
Opening presents on Christmas Eve. I'm not entirely sure if this started because of some grand tradition or because of impatience... but whatever the reason, that's how we do. We open family presents Christmas Eve (after our traditional vat of shrimp creole), and save the Santa presents and stockings for Christmas morning. It spreads out the loot a bit, which keeps the kids from getting too overwhelmed, and it also extends the merry-making in a way I thoroughly enjoy.
And finally, last year, Christina and I wrote about some of our favorite, and weirdest, holiday traditions. The ones we look forward to all year. They involve butter, Rocky, and octopi. Just... you'll see.
Share with us! What are your favorite holiday traditions? Which ones do you hope to incorporate into your family traditions? Tell us all of it! And in the meantime, Happy Holidays to all of you. We're almost there. ALMOST. About Shannon