Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Traditions

This is an interesting time of year when people all celebrate one of the same three holidays.  They all celebrate in their own way for their own reasons.  I just find it fascinating. 

Gavin’s school makes a big deal out of cultural differences, especially this time of year.  For the holiday party on the last day before the winter break the classes have a multicultural luncheon.  Last year everyone was told to bring a dish that represented the student’s cultural heritage.  Ok.  We’re as white and American as they come! 

The closest relative Gavin has that immigrated to the United States was my great grandmother who came from Germany.  I don’t know what my grandpa’s cultural heritage is.  We always celebrated my grandma’s German heritage.  My dad is a European mutt.  Aren’t most Americans a mix?  I just have to remember that Gavin is almost a minority in his school as a blond, white student whose family has been here for centuries on his dad’s side and generations on his mom’s side. 

This year his class is having the same luncheon party.  I liked how his teachers brought it to the parents’ attention.  The students all have a number based on their names.  The teachers grouped the kids according to their numbers and the kids bring something based on that.  We have been asked to bring a dessert that we traditionally have in our family around the holidays. 

Well, Heath and I have been married for nearly nine years and in that time we have not settled on many Christmas food traditions.  I have talked to people about Christmas food their family has every year as a tradition.  The consensus is people don’t like the food!  They continue the tradition because it’s comforting. 

My mom made angel sandwiches every Christmas morning with gumdrop bread.  I have to admit, I hated it as a child.  The angel sandwiches were a casserole of sorts consisting of sausage, eggs, bread, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and melted cheese.  I liked the sausage, eggs, and cheese but all the stuff I hated like the peppers, onions, and mushrooms were hard to pick out.  The gumdrop bread was good every other year.  I remember my mom would be really upset the years it didn’t turn out so well. 

Even though I wasn’t a fan of the angel sandwiches it was a Christmas tradition.  I remember the year my mom made angel sandwiches while we were camping in the summer.  We were not fans of that decision.  Angel sandwiches were Christmas and we only wanted them for Christmas. 

There are no special breakfasts we have landed on being a tradition.  We don’t eat a special lunch or dinner.  We don’t even have traditional treats.  Oh sure, we make cookies for Santa.  The last couple of years we have made sugar cookies in Christmas shapes.  They taste like cardboard because they came from a mix that I swear was three years old before we ever cracked the box open!  I think it was a neighbor gift from some friends years ago!  Heath assures me that it won’t go bad.  We finally finished the last bag in the box when I posted this

Gavin will be taking reindeer candy canes for his dessert item on Friday.  I remember making these for friends at Christmas time when I was younger.  I use brown pipe cleaner for antlers and glue on googly eyes and a tiny red pom pom for a nose.  I drove all over kingdom come trying to find some flavored candy canes because who wants a plain old peppermint candy cane?  I finally found what I wanted at Target yesterday.  Chocolate mint.  Yum.  I know the kids will love how fun the reindeer candy canes are.  Plus, those kids are going to have more food choices than they know what to do with.  A candy cane can be taken home and eaten later.  Or hung on a tree.  decorations-001 Since I only have two made so far I better get crackin!  I keep talking on the phone though.

My mom and I had a long conversation last night about Christmas and traditions.   My mom is not really into the Christmas spirit this year.  She finally convinced herself to put up her tree.  It’s not pre lit.  Every year that woman does the lights at least three times before she’s satisfied!  She suffers from extreme perfectionism like me.  I guess she was having trouble convincing herself to put on the ornaments.  She was talking to my sister and her husband.  My brother in law, Ed, asked my mom if she wanted them to help her decorate the tree.  My mom told him no.  My sister, Candi, told Ed that they needed to leave my mom alone with that task.  I just laughed when she told me.  Ed must not know my mom very well yet.

My mom said that next year she plans on getting a small table tree to put in her front window like some little old lady.  I know she won’t.  She knows she won’t.  I was telling her that I always put up the little table tree she bought for me when I was in college.  My mom knows my taste in decorations.  This table tree from Big Lots came with beautiful gold decorations.  I am not into cutesy decorations on my trees. 

I told my mom that this year I was having trouble finding a place for all the cutesy decorations given to me over the years by students, family, and friends.  My mother in law, Dawn, makes the kids decorations every year for Christmas.  I think it’s super sweet especially since Heath told me that was not a tradition when he was growing up.  It was for me.  Every year my parents would give us a new ornament.  I guess Dawn does it for her grandkids now.  Great tradition. 

Anyway, I told my mom that there was no way any of the ornaments from over the years would ever find there way on my tree.  My mom laughed because we have the same taste in decorating Christmas trees.  To us Christmas trees are beautiful and have little to do with kids!  decorations-002 By the way, Gwen sits on the presents and plays with the bows.  My friends are all getting headaches rolling their eyes at me because they all let their kids decorate the tree!  I finally put all those decorations and ornaments on my little table tree.  My kids could not be more excited about it.  They love looking at all the fun decorations, especially the ones with their names that Grandma made for them.  decorations-005 I didn’t clear my counter before taking this picture because I realized the crackers in the background are a Christmas tradition in our house.  We always have to have crackers with cheese spread.  And birthday cake that lasts the whole month!

I’m going to have to get a kid tree soon.  I grew up with a kid tree.  We had to have a place for all those ornaments we got every year!  And they weren’t allowed on my mom’s tree!  I have turned into my mother and it cracks me up! 

My mom reminded me about how my grandma celebrated Christmas as a little girl.  My great grandma came straight from Germany like I mentioned.  German tradition is to not do any decorating, tree included, until Christmas Eve.  My grandma and her brother would play all day while their parents decorated the tree and got things ready for Christmas.  When they were done they would ring a cow bell to let the kids know it was time.  The kids would see the tree and gifts for the first time late on Christmas Eve.  My great grandma would cook the whole week leading up to Christmas.  All special foods they didn’t normally eat.  Then for the whole week after Christmas she didn’t cook anything.  They would eat what she made before. 

decorations-006 Gavin made the tree and the first reindeer last year in kindergarten.  So I had Parker and Gwen make reindeer this year.  I love Parker’s antlers.  He cut his hands out by himself. 

decorations-007 This was what the kids opened for our family home afternoon the first Tuesday this month.  (Gavin puked on Heath the night before when we wanted to do this!)  And here’s the rest of it.  decorations-008 It’s in our bed because Parker kept chasing me around the house with it today.  He kept playing the music while I was on the phone with Candi. 

I love Christmas traditions.  We have so many because this is my favorite holiday.  What traditions do you enjoy this time of year? 

2 thoughts:

Dawn said...

Christmas Eve pajamas! I have been making PJs since my boys were little and now I make them for the grandkids. They sometimes don’t fit too well but my family indulges me and wears them anyway. We always have sticky buns for breakfast on Christmas morning. I have several goodies I like to make but this year there has been no effort yet. My most recent addition to traditions is that I fill my mom’s stocking and she fills mine. When the kids were growing up I always did everyone’s stockings and I really like this new idea. It is nice to have some surprises and I almost always know what I am getting for Christmas. My favorite tradition when the boys were at home was to surprise a neighbor with the 12 days of Christmas gifts where you leave a little gift and ring the doorbell and run. I usually grumbled about getting it ready everyday but it was fun to surprise someone and have our kids participate. Whatever you decide has to work for your family and when it is no longer fun it is time to give it up.

phonelady said...

wow the angel sandwiches got me LOL !!! awesome . My family really dont have traditions in food except for my green bean casserole and I talked to my cousin and he wanted the recipe to do for his daughter and her husband coming over . I do something different than the normal recipe so he had to call me . LOL !!!