Tradiiiiiiitiooooon! TRADITION!TRADITION!

Posted on type-pad December 26, 2007

'Tis the season of tradition. We have a few and it strikes me that it would be nice to record them somewhere-so here goes..
Like many families, we trim the tree and decorate the house on the weekend after Thanksgiving. We always do this to the soundtrack of Mormon Tabernacle Choir's White Christmas (from the movie Mr. Krueger's Christmas). But I wrote more about all of that in a previous enty. I try to get an ornament each year representative of each kid in that year. Sometimes it will be after Christmas when they go on sale. 'Cos I'm cheap like that.
Gingerbread House
Each year we make a gingerbread house. If Uncle Marc is in the house he heads up this enterprise. One year he made an African village. When Marc is not around, Aaron steps in as chief architect and contractor, he has many willing assistants.
12 Days of Christmas
For the last few years we have chosen a family to do the 12 days of Christmas for. This is sooo much fun. For the 12 nights preceding Christmas we do an anonymous "drop" at their door with a gift in keeping with the day. This year the gifts were:
Partridge in a Pear tree-Pear Sparkling Cider and a variety of fresh pears in a partridge in a pear tree bag I found at the last moment. (Being the detail person I am, you can imagine my joy).
Turtle doves-Turtle chocolate, Dove chocolate, Dove Soap
French Hens- Frozen french toast sticks and a ceramic Christmas bowl filled with eggs for breakfast courtesy of the French and the hens.
Calling Birds-Four calling cards to call someone far away.
Golden Rings-Five Krispey Kreme donuts-handy as there were 5 in the family this year.
Geese-A'laying-Goose ornament and Ferror Rocher chocolate for the "golden eggs.
Swans a-Swimming-Bath bubbles and toys
Maids a milking-We got a tin of kids cardgames and highlighted 'Old Maid' on it.
Ladies Dancing-The Nutcracker Suite CD and a couple of slabs of Symphony chocolate.
Lords a-leaping-Was supposed to be Mexican jumping beans (used in the past) or Tiddlywinks, but Aaron found a frog game that he thought looked like lots more fun.
Pipers Piping-A bunch of pipe cleaners of different types and Christmas bells along with the instructions on how to make this craft.
Drummers Drumming- Nestle Drumstick ice cream cones and a Nutcracker playing a drum.
Christmas Eve
Traditionally we do a service project of sorts and/or deliver cookies and such with a carol to a plethora of unsuspecting folk. People tolerate our singing very kindly. Here's what we gave people this year. Gracie and Aaron made the little star mince pies, the meringue Christmas hats gave us us fits (fyi-when it says parchment paper, wax paper is not a good substitute) and the reindeer were not as docile as they seem. Next  year we will make a batch of brownies and call it good.
Our Christmas eve family dinner is very cozy. We always have lamb from my mom's recipe. We never seem to manage to write this wonderful recipe down, so each Christmas Eve a call is put in to my mom to talk us through it. Since it is late on Christmas Eve in SA in our early evening, and also have their big dinner and festivities on Christmas Eve, we get to chat with them and feel a  part of that.
The kids put sugar around the glasses-another tradition from my family.
We have a very fancy candlelit dinner.
After dinner, we always read the Christmas Story from Luke. This year we also talked about what we could give Jesus since it was His birthday after all. Gracie said, "well we can't give him anything because everything is already His. All we can give Him is  what we do with our free will". Pretty deep for a 5 year old. We have discussed this of course, but I was impressed at her understanding by putting it in context. We watched the Nativity scene from Mr. Krueger's Christmas. I think it is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in any movie. Jimmy Stewart at his finest. Benjamin was sobbing at the end of it. It was very touching. While everything was still reverent and quiet, everyone wrote a card to Jesus telling Him what they would give up or commit to doing as a gift to Him this year. We tied all the cards together with a ribbon and put it under the tree. It was a very special moment
We always sing Silent Night-this year accompanied on the piano by Benj! He let his siblings get their thang out of their system first so that he could be undisturbed.
We say our family prayer
Then everyone gets to open one present. Much joy and hysteria.
Then we lay out the snack to Santa, all the kids write a little note to him. Gracie sprinkled glittery oats out for the reindeer to find, and they lay out their stockings
We read the Night before Christmas
And finally finally, clutching new toys, everyone goes to bed.
As you can tell, Christmas Eve is somewhat of an extravaganza
Since I was a kid of about 7 or 8, I would write, direct and usually act in a Christmas play produced by me and my siblings. I am hoping for one of my children to catch the vision to continue this tradition. It continued when we were with my family in South Africa but the best they could summon this year was singing their various renditions of Jingle Bells. One involving how their sister got a WII but they just got a chair, was their favourite.
Christmas Day
Kids wake up to open their stockings, (there is always an orange in the toe much to their bemusement), then breakfast and then the little matter of presents. This year we managed to string that out for 3 hours. Each kid only got about 4 gifts but we all stopped to watch each person open one, then they would play with it for a while before the next one. It was great and they got to really enjoy and discover all the presents rather then tear everything off in a 2 minute frenzy and then look around all disappointed for more.
Here's Gracie setting up a boutique to use her newly acquired cash register in.

And then we all hang out in pajamas all day long until it is time to descend on our friends for dinner. This year we had the mammoth contribution of the salad and the drinks. It was stressful but we coped.
Amy in her typical party pose
Aaron having a not so passive aggressive moment. It's my turn to talk!
I have to say that I have loved Christmas with my little family for different reasons each year, but this year was really special because it dawned on me that Christmas was so similar to how it was when I was growing up. I have always pined for my family at Christmas because we have such a fun, wonderful, hilarious festive time together.
And then this Christmas Day as we all hung out laughing, listening to music on my newly acquired iPod speaker thingie, just exactly as we would have when I was a teenager, really talking, playing and enjoying each other, it occurred to me that my little family is turning into all the best parts of the family I grew up in. And that is a pretty wonderful thing.
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You guys are the greatest. I love your Christmas. Someday, I'm gonna get my act together and celebrate with that much excitement and festivity. That sounded like a lot of fun.
Posted by: Jen | December 27, 2007 at 02:58 PM

Thanks for sharing your traditions. Your Christmases do have a lot more excitement than mine! Like Jen, I would like to get my act together and make my family celebrations as festive and creative as yours.
Posted by: Samantha | December 27, 2007 at 03:36 PM

Thanks for sharing your days! And how funny- Santa leaves a tangerine or clementine in the toe of our stockings too!
Posted by: Dallas | December 28, 2007 at 01:23 PM

Thanks for sharing your Christmas with us. Sounds so lovely!
PS Our stockings get fruit and chocolate too:)
Posted by: JenniferC | December 30, 2007 at 05:24 PM

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