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Holiday Traditions

December 21, 2009

Today, we’re talking about holiday traditions.  As in we.  As in, yes, I convinced Jason to type a few words for all of you.  A Christmas Miracle?  Perhaps.

We have yet to develop any major Christmas traditions with just our little family.  It’s tricky to develop your own traditions when you’re always at someone else’s house for Christmas!  But we’re working around it.  St Nicholas fills our stockings with treats and small gifts on December 5th (so that we wake up to find them on December 6th).  It’s a tradition that my family did while I was growing up, and we’ve decided that it’s just too fun not to continue!  We also send Christmas cards and host a festive sweater party.

This year, we’ll join my family for Christmas.  Typically, we head to church on Christmas Eve, followed by a trip to my grandparent’s house for dinner, gifts, and my grandparents’ matching plaid pants.

Grandma & Grandpa + Plaid Pants = Awesome Christmas

We’d play with our cousins, or in recent years, just chit-chat.  After we’d gotten our fill of shrimp cocktail and cookies, we’d open presents.  Every year, my grandma buys too much for us, and every year, my grandpa claims that he was the one that went to the store and bought it.  We pretend to be fooled.

Then, we head to my parent’s house to sleep and await Santa’s arrival.

Santa & I circa 1985

In the morning, we wait until everyone wakes up.  Poor bother Trevor – when Ashley, Robby, and I were younger, we’d be up early, ready to get a start on opening the plethora of gifts under the tree.  Now that we’re older, we sleep in later.  And, one of my siblings is not to be woken under penalty of death.  Ahem, you know who you are.  So, we wait.  Someone makes cinnamon rolls and we eat them, then read the Christmas story from the bible.  Finally, it’s present time!

In the afternoon, we’ll usually head over to visit with my mom’s family. (unless it’s an “off year” for them… then we’ll gather with them on one of the weekends close to Christmas).  After eating a huge and very delicious meal, we swap gifts.  We each buy one gift that anyone might find appealing… so on Christmas, we put all the presents in a pile and pick numbers.  We go in numerical order, picking a present out of the unwrapped pile or stealing from someone else.  We usually go through the order twice.  It’s hilarious to see what gifts everyone brings – there’s always some sort of hunting equipment, tools, and kitchen-y stuff.  Then, the desserts come out.  Yummy!

Sometimes being the oldest isn’t that cool.  Like when you’re 13 and forced to wear clothes that match your 8-year old sister and 3-year old brother TO THE MALL! to sit on Santa’s lap.  Mom and Dad – you are very lucky that I played along without a fight.  Future Children – I can’t wait to torture you like this in the name of a good Christmas picture.

On other years, we spend Christmas with Jason’s family.  So here he is to fill you in on his family’s traditions:

My family traditions starts with mass – we always go to 8PM mass, which includes the full choir doing renditions of religious Christmas tunes as well as some secular favorites. After mass, we eat Chinese takeout from the local restaurant. Other traditions we flirted with on Christmas Eve were a movie tradition for Christmas Eve, and last year we tried instituting a Chipotle lunch tradition, but those don’t seem to have the staying power of the Chinese dinner.

On Christmas night, my parents stay up watching the mass from the Vatican, wrapping presents and having a cocktail. For Christmas morning, Santa leaves an apple and an orange outside our bedroom doors. I have taken this tradition to the next level by utilizing these fruits as wake up alarms for my sister. (read: Jason hurls them at his sister’s head! poor Bridget!)  Then after we are all awake, we sit at the top of the steps while my parents find the camera to take our picture and finally we can go downstairs and open the presents.  After all the fun and merriment of opening presents, we go over a relatives house and have entirely too much fun. On one of the days following Christmas, my extended family takes the train into Philadelphia to go to the Macy’s light show and Dickens village… two cheesy holiday events that wouldn’t be half as fun without the extended family!

Jason, his brother Kevin, and Santa

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

To see other holiday traditions, head over to Kim’s blog for the final week of her holiday party!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2009 10:39 am

    Husband’s parents passed down a little Christmas tradition that we share. We buy a Hallmark ornament each year to remember each Christmas together.

    Simple, but sweet.


    • December 21, 2009 6:22 pm

      Cute idea! I try to collect ornaments throughout the year to represent things that we’ve done together – this year, I bought an ornament from Ireland, and will probably buy/make one to remind us that we got our puppy this year, and maybe even another to remind us of our move to Michigan!

  2. December 21, 2009 10:56 am

    I love your pictures…. makes me wanna dig through and find some of our own. =)

    (And, I had to lol at the matching dress. So funny what parents do to us. )

  3. Debbie permalink
    December 21, 2009 11:15 am

    First of all, Jen, I have to print those Santa pictures to add to our collection! How cute were you? (even with the matching dresses)
    Santa always put an apple and orange in your beds which was a tradition handed down from my parents. When other “guests” started coming we started to leave them outside the bedroom door. This was not as much fun but I feel better in the long run for everyone concerned if you know what I mean.
    We used to have a birthday cake for Baby Jesus; for some reason no one remembers this. Maybe I only did it when you were very young.
    When you were young, we always lived away so we would get up Christmas morning and then drive to NJ so our ritual was not always the same.
    (Trevor & Bridget, sorry you didn’t make the Christmas pictures in the blog)

  4. December 21, 2009 11:50 am

    U poor thing! My mom use to make me wear certain outfits for my school’s Christmas parties. This was up till 6th grade. lol. I feel your pain.

    My dad’s side is Polish, so we do a lot of Polish traditions. One of my favorite is called the Christmas Wafers, or Oplatek in Polish. Everyone breaks a piece of someone else Christmas Wafer and wishes the other person good wishes. When I was little, I use to eat my wafer before anyone else could break off a piece. lol.

    Great post!

  5. December 21, 2009 12:04 pm

    Honestly…. I protested your mother’s wishes on the santa thing (matching unis and all) after you were 10 years old…
    The traditions you recall from youth are a conglomeration/ modification to all those from “family past”. You will “hunt and peck” until you have kids and then make your own traditions. Just remember the reason for the season!

    • December 21, 2009 6:25 pm

      I guess you didn’t protest hard enough. I always thought I had to, and didn’t want to make anyone mad… For Trevor’s sake, I think we should all dress up in matching outfits and go to see Santa this year!

      • Mom permalink
        December 22, 2009 12:28 am

        Oh Goody! I’ll get right on that…I saw some fabulous flannel pajamas with reindeer flying all over them, I bet I can get them in all of your sizes!

  6. December 21, 2009 2:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing these traditions – loved reading them.

    Love those tartan pyjamas! I hope you and Jason now have matching tartan pj’s too! (and we need pictures!!!)

    • December 21, 2009 6:26 pm

      Oh, Janmary! Those are NOT PJ’s – those are real wool pants that Grandpa wears to church!! 🙂

  7. December 21, 2009 5:01 pm

    Matching plaid pants = AWESOME! Maybe I can convince my husband to do this with me. And the collar on that plaid dress… wow, the things our parents do to us. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    • December 21, 2009 6:27 pm

      I know – they are amazing, aren’t they? I was totally hoping to find some red plaid tights to wear with a grey sweater dress this year so that I could match my grandparents… but I never found them. Oh well.

  8. December 21, 2009 7:24 pm

    The matching outfits to visit Santa are too funny! Its amazing what parents force us to do in the name of Christmas, isn’t it. And I also have a sibling who is also not to be woken up early on Christmas morning, its so annoying!

  9. December 21, 2009 9:45 pm

    Hey Jen! Thanks so much for your questions and I love the Christmas Eve Eve tradition!! We may have to start that one 🙂 I love the idea of matching PJs for the Christmas morning photos! Thanks for sharing it with me!! I will keep in mind that it will be hard on Mr. B and thanks for pointing that out, I wouldn’t have thought about it until next year, so I really appreciate the insight! I hope you had a great Monday and y’all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    xo, KA

  10. December 21, 2009 9:54 pm

    I love this whole post–the traditions, the photos, and that you convinced your husband to participate!!

  11. December 23, 2009 1:41 pm

    Love the matching plaid pants!!! Gotta Love It!


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