Tuesday, November 23


Today is day 1 of the 12 Day of Christmas blogging challenge.

{1} Christmas/Holiday Traditions

My family has lots of Christmas/Holiday traditions. I won't bore you with Thanksgiving because we no longer have any Thanksgiving traditions. Christmas is my favorite holiday. There are many reasons for this, two of which are gift giving and gift receiving, but probably my favorite part is the holiday traditions.

Growing up, the tree never went up the weekend after Thanksgiving, like many peoples' do. Instead, my mom did not like having it up for extended periods of time, so we would find a time 2-3 weeks before Christmas when all 4 of us were around. In recent years, however, it has become our tradition to put the tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This started when my brother and I would go off to college. It wasn't worth putting the tree up after we could get home from school after finals, so I suggested we do like most other American families. So now we are.

My parents are both from Alabama, so growing up, it was our tradition to drive to my mom's mom's house the Saturday before Christmas, eat, open presents and visit with my extended family. Then we would pile in the car, drive to my dad's mom's house and spend the night. The next day we would eat, open presents and visit with my extended family. Then we would drive home.

This used to be all we saw of my relatives for the Christmas season. When I was 11, my grandfather, Baw Baw, passed away. After that, my grandmother would come stay with us on Christmas Eve-Christmas day. This continued until she passed away when I was in college. This altered our Christmas plans and now we only go to my dad's mom's house the Sunday before Christmas to eat, open presents and visit with my extended family.

My family spends Christmas Eve with our neighbors. The festivities alternate between my parents house and the Harshman's house. We get together at 5 pm, eat finger foods, we used to open presents when we were younger, then go to church. We'd attend the 7 pm candlelight Christmas service. The Harshmans and Elmores would take up the whole pew, we'd take communion, and go home. From there, we might hang out with the Harshmans a little longer (i.e. Robert and I would listen to Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, and we'd play shoot 'em-up video games) We'd go home, Drew and I (mostly I) would ask to open a present, be denied that opportunity, and be told to hit the hay or Santa wouldn't stop at the house.

Some years Drew and I will read the Nutcracker, an edition we had illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Until I was in high school, Santa brought unwrapped presents to the Elmore household. Mom and Dad and Drew each had a present for me under the tree. I wouldn't be able to sleep on Christmas Eve. I would get up around 4 or 5 am, sneak into the living, see what Santa left me and go back to bed until 6 or 7, when I was allowed to wake my family members. We'd get up and Drew and I would play with our presents while breakfast cooked. We weren't allowed to open our stockings until after breakfast to keep us from filling up on candy. Now, we sleep in because we're older, and mom wraps all the presents 3 weeks before "Santa comes." When we do get up, we pass out all the presents and open them in a round, watching everyone open each present. It's quite fun, but takes a couple of hours. We typically eat breakfast in the middle. My dad started this weird tradition growing up where we made goofy gift tags for each other. The tradition persisted until last year when it was just too difficult to come up with fresh ideas.

Once we're done opening presents, we can start on stockings. You check out your swag and then we play "Let's Make a Deal." Yes, we barter with each other to get the candy we really wanted in our stockings. Dad always tries to hoodwink us into trading for our Starbucks gift cards.

At this point, we lay around, play with our new toys, try on new clothes and generally be lazy. When I was little, and occasionally still, my childhood best friend and I will go to each other's houses to see what each other got that we can play with.

Delicious Yorkshire Puddings!
Mid-afternoon people shower and get ready, then we help mom cook dinner. Evidently most people each turkey or ham accompanied by Thanksgiving-y type sides for Christmas. How strange! We eat a traditional English dinner of: prime rib, Yorkshire puddings, green beans, Waldorf salad, new potatoes, and crescent rolls. Dessert varies, but in the past few years we've had cheescakes. We eat off the fine china. Every year when we sit down to sup, no one will volunteer to say the blessing, so it usually falls upon my brother. Then, while we're eating, we go around and say what our favorite gift we received was. It's quite fun.

Christmas with my family is very important to me. I love my mom and dad and brother dearly, so it's wonderful to get to share such a meaningful holiday season with them. I look forward to continuing holiday traditions with M, and starting several of our own!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, my brother and I will inevitably watch A Christmas Story clips all day long, whenever we can catch part of it.  It is our hands down favorite movie, but more on that to come a later post!

On an unrelated note. I thought I would share this hideous photo of Kesha at the American Music Awards. I'm embarrassed to say I went to high school with her! At least it's entertaining to laugh at her and say WTF?!


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