Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I've been a bit sick the last few days, but I will not be stopped from having Christmas Eve at our house this year.  Since before we were married, we've done Christmas Eve at the Warden's parents' house with his siblings and their families.  In the past number of years, as their family situations have changed, the siblings have been come and go from this tradition, so we decided that maybe it was time to do things a little differently.  This year, we're on our own.  I'm excited about his prospect.

Tonight we will have a few friends over for food and fun and games.  We'll, hopefully, sing carols around the piano.  We're having the Warden's family food tradition--Chicken Tortilla Pie with layers of tortillas, chicken and cheese and a sauce of sour cream, diced chilies and cream of chicken soup.  There are a few other things in it, and I'm happy to post a recipe if anyone is interested.  This was my favorite recipe as a kid.  It was the Warden's too.  With my being sick, the Warden was the chef.  I believe he has prepared four 9"x 13" pans of the stuff.

After dinner, we'll have the kids get in costume for the reading of the Nativity.  This has also been a Hess family tradition.  Funny, but I don't remember my family being particularly social when I was a kid--no big Christmas traditions.  We got a new pair of pajamas each year; most of the time, my mom made them for us.  That was pretty much our Christmas Eve celebration--new jammies and a picture of all the kids in them then off to bed early "so Santa can come."

We draw names a couple weeks before Christmas and go buy a gift for the person we choose.  Those gifts are opened on Christmas Eve right before the kids go to bed. 

Tonight before I go to bed, I will prepare tomorrow morning's breakfast.  We're combining our two families' traditions--caramel pull-aparts from my family and breakfast casserole from the Hess family.  Our wonderful Danish neighbor sent over Kringle for our family to enjoy too.

The other tradition we started this year came from some good family friends.  Years ago, when I taught one of their daughters in Young Women, I asked her what her favorite thing was about Christmas.   She told me that she loved that each person in the family had all of his/her gifts wrapped in their own individualized wrapping paper.  This year, I found nine different patterns of wrapping paper and wrapped each of the Inmates' gifts in their own paper.  I didn't have to put tags on anything.  The best part about it is that they have no idea which gifts are theirs, so they're not sitting there shaking them and fondling them trying to figure out what's in them.

I didn't get Christmas cards out this year.  I'm going to blame that on statistics.  That was one thing my mom did EVERY year.  She hand-wrote notes to what seemed like hundreds of people.  There was always a family photo and a signed card.  In my mind, that's what should be done, but not this year.  We did get some Christmas baking done, but didn't deliver to as many people as I would have liked.  I had to bow out because of illness, or we probably would have had a lot more deliveries done.  The Warden likes things simple.

Please share the traditions your family loves.  I'd love to try something new next year.
Merry Christmas!!!


Alyson said...

Charming post! I love the idea of 9 kinds of paper and no tags. In fact I find it hilarious. We've always gone to B's mom's for a nativity. Last year, however, it was a miserable experience, so I managed to talk him out of it this year saying, "We really need to start doing our own nativity!" We haven't done it yet, this evening we will. Looking forward to it. :D

vaxhacker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vaxhacker said...

Christmas shared with friends and family is a special time indeed. When I was growing up, we always got to pick one present to unwrap on Christmas Eve (usually the one which had been bugging us the most as we tried in vain to shake, poke, and peek to see what might be inside), but we haven't done that with our family now.
Now we go to my parents' house for Christmas Eve dinner and to hang stockings there, then back to our house in time for the kids to get off to sleep before Santa arrives. That evening we usually review the nativity story from the Bible, often with the kids dressing up and playing the parts (although it didn't work out this year to do it, unfortunately), hang their own stockings from our mantle and then off to bed.
Christmas morning we have a nice family time together opening presents and enjoying some quiet time together. Then it's back off to Granddad and Grandma's house for more food, games, and opening the stockings Santa left there for everyone, and presents the extended family give to each other.
We usually have a specific wrapping paper that comes from Santa, and have done the individual paper thing but only to a limited extent. This year, though, I ended up with a similar situation. I wrapped all the gifts but didn't have the tags printed up yet (since I couldn't find the sheets of tag stickers), so I made sure the presents were unique between size, shape, and color of paper, and made up the master key of what was what. So the kids had no idea which ones were theirs. I did notice a distinct lack of prodding and shaking this year. Although J did offer a lot to “help me tag the gifts”.
(It also helped because in one or two cases I wasn't completely certain which gift was going to which child, to keep things reasonably even, or whether a gift was going under the tree or in a stocking, so I reserved that decision until later.)
We also have a Christmas morning ritual to wait “patiently” for everyone to get up, then go through the stockings until everyone's explored what is in them, and then tear into what's under the tree. (With, of course, some notable exceptions in the family history.)

Hesses Madhouse said...

Fun, Steve! I love that the stockings are usually done at your parents' home. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

How did the nativity go, Alyson? Love you! Merry Christmas!

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