At our MOPS meeting this week we were asked to talk about our family traditions. After a week of holiday stress and battling illness in our home, I sourly thought as I arrived that it appears that my holiday tradition is to overextend myself and make myself sick in the process. Now, I know most of you are probably playing some delightful music on your "world's smallest violins" for me because we all tend to do too much at this time of year, but after I really reflected on it, I do tend to get sick every year by the time I reach my parents' home for the first round of holiday visits, and usually it is following a month of mega-baking, mega-decorating, and mega-celebrating. So, indeed, I think I can safely say that I have created a tradition for myself. Not a great one, but a tradition nonetheless.
And that brings to mind many other things that my family and I do every year that aren't exactly what one would see on the pages of a Christmas magazine. These are things that have simply happened along the way, yet they have managed to ingrain themselves into the patchwork of our experience. These are the accidental family favorites that make us real, and in some cases, they are the "favorite things" that we recall from year to year.
For example, years ago my parents started celebrating Christmas with my sister and me on Christmas Eve. This was a decision based on us no longer believing our gifts were "delivered" on Christmas morning and the fact that we started our Christmas day family gatherings early, thus leaving little time for our own festivities. When we made the switch to the Eve, we also decided to go a step further--since then, we have eaten a non-traditional Christmas Dinner of Pizza Hut Pizza on every December 24th. It has to be Pizza Hut, and it must be the "pan" variety. Bread sticks must also be involved for it to truly be Christmas Eve Dinner. We drink Goldenrod-brand Boiled Custard, and we exchange gifts when dinner is finished. One year someone actually suggested that we make pizza at home instead of ordering it. That suggestion was swiftly denied. Sorry, Pizza Hut is our tradition (and, well, it's the only time of the year that I can actually allow myself to enjoy every bite of that butter-soaked crust).
A version of this tradition has now become a part my little family--we visit our parents in other states during Christmas, so my husband, son, and I have begun celebrating our personal holiday on New Year's Eve. What's on the menu? Spaghetti with ground beef and jarred sauce. And as much buttery garlic bread as we want. Simple, um, pretty fattening, but delicious.
So, what do you do? What makes your holiday celebration unique?