Traditions have always been important in my family., as I’m sure they are in every family. Today I want to talk about a few of my favorites that I hope to pass on to my children.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because well, food. And family of course! However, we had three special traditions in our house, that I hope Oliver will be a part of.
Just before we sit down to eat, we pass around this tiny wicker basket with corn kernels in it. We would then each take two and say the two things we were most thankful for. Now having nine siblings, most of who have children, this can take a while. But it’s still one of my favorite traditions.
The second tradition is my sister Cassie and I always breaking the wishbone. I can’t tell you when this started because I just always remember doing it. We always got to do it because we were the “babies” but the tradition has carried on through the years even though we now have nieces and nephews who could do it. We always fiercely stake our claim, which probably cuts down on the littles fighting between the 13 (Oliver is number 14) of them!
We have this long-standing arrangement with all the girls sitting down around the table, playing the first Christmas music of the season (my dad still glares at it since it’s Thanksgiving not Christmas,) and cutting up fresh fruit for fruit salad. This is a girls only thing, (except for oranges if we can convince my dad to do it because we all hate cutting oranges with a vengeance,) and recently, my nieces have become old enough to join in the fun! It’s been great passing on this tradition as we all talk, laugh, and sing. Most people probably wouldn’t be able to make sense of all the noise, but we sure do love every minute of it.
I grew up without tv. While most people are shocked by this and find it appalling (mostly kids my own age,) we never knew the difference and enjoyed our childhood immensely! Maybe I’ll write a whole separate post on this. Anyway, since we didn’t have tv, our Christmas Eve tradition is a little different from most everyone else’s.
I always knew Christmas was near when we pulled out the box with our Christmas village in it. This is one of my absolute favorite things about Christmas. We always helped my mom lay out the fake snow, carefully set out each building and place each little figurine in their spots. When I moved out with Russell, I really wanted to have a Christmas village but they can be very expensive! I was at the local flea market when I saw this elderly man who had this entire little village laid out. I was so excited and promptly went over to ask how much. He told me that he had lost his wife earlier in the year and he couldn’t bear the thought of Christmas without her so he was getting rid of all his Christmas decor. This broke my heart and I gently told him how much this little village would be loved and cared for. He had tears in his eyes when I handed him the $20 for the entire set. Every year, I think of that man when I pull out the buildings and I send him merry wishes that he somehow is able to find joy in the holiday season. Oliver will know this story and how precious things like this are, not because they cost a lot, but because they mean so much to those who own them.
My mom always makes the best snacks on Christmas Eve. Sausage balls, (let me tell you, no one makes them like my mama,) smokies, cookies, the works. Then she puts together the BEST stockings. All your favorite candies, one of which is laughy taffy which we all sit around reading the dumb jokes, Chapstick, makeup, car gadgets, and all the girls get a pair of fun Christmas socks which we all promptly put on. We turn off all the lights except the Christmas lights and pull out all the blankets. Next, we all settle in with our popcorn, plates of yummy food, stockings and Daddy turns on Focus on the Family’s “A Christmas Carol.” To some people, it may be difficult to listen to a dramatized version of a story. But for us, it’s the best way. After years of hearing this story, we can picture it in our heads perfectly and know most of the lines. We only listen to it once a year and honestly, Christmas Eve is one of my favorite nights of the year. I would rather spend it at my parents than anywhere else in the world.
Somewhere between the snack getting and the story starting, we always get to open one family gift. This usually ends up being the mysterious box from my dear Aunt C. For as long as I can remember, she has sent a box for the family for Christmas and we always look forward to opening it and see what quirky and yummy gifts it contains! I remember one year getting a chicken shooter. Don’t worry we didn’t shoot real chickens! It was a little sling shot style gun that shot plastic chickens and we took turns seeing who could get it the furthest! This was always one of the gifts we looked forward to most. Not because it was expensive or extravagant, but because the gifts were always fun and unique!
The final Christmas tradition I love in my family, is Christmas morning. We all rouse around and drag our sleepy butts out to the living room in our cozy pjs, sit down and quote half of the Christmas Story while Daddy reads it from the Bible, sing a Christmas song, then each and every person has to have their gifts before we open them. This all sounds pretty standard, but the best part isn’t the gifts. It’s what comes after: my mom’s breakfast strata. My mama is an amazing cook and there isn’t really anything that compares to her food but this breakfast strata is yummy eggs, sausage and cheese all baked into a warm breaded casserole and I’m pretty sure it came from Heaven. She always gets the best of the ingredients and since we only have it once a year, it disappears quicker than you can believe. This is all consumed while we share our gifts, laugh and talk.
Now that I am married, my husband’s family traditions have become my own like meeting up for dinner every Wednesday night or celebrating birthdays as a family. My family also has many more traditions such as getting together for a cookout for every summer holiday and calling and singing the worst possible rendition of happy birthday to whoever the lucky person is! One time we sang the whole song off-key and with random musical instruments before the person was able to tell us we had the wrong number. Talk about embarrassing!
Each families traditions are different but that’s what makes them so special. It’s important to me that Oliver grows up with these traditions and appreciates them as I do. Family is a precious thing and by keeping traditions alive, we keep a part of them alive as well.
What are your family traditions? I would love to hear about them!