This is the sixth and final week of the Dare to DIY blog party hosted by the NewlyWoodwards. It’s been a lot of fun so I’m a little sad to see it go…
This week is “Dare to have traditions”: Everyone has traditions for the Holidays. Tell us all about your favorites or start a new tradition to share.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is the traditions. I love knowing that I’ll get to see a bunch of my family in a span of a couple of days, make and eat lots of goodies, and enjoy the moments without worrying about what needs to be done at home or work. (That last one may be a large factor in why I’m enjoying the season so much this year.)
Traditionally Christmas Eve is spent with my dad’s side of the family and Christmas Day is spent with my mom’s.
The Christmas Eve festivities have evolved over the years as the number of cousins increased and grandparents passed on. We used to have the festivities at my dad’s parents’ house. I don’t remember a lot of the details… adults drew names for gift giving and a lot of “Dead Fish” was played. (With 10-15 young kids running around, “Dead Fish” was the sanity saver. Someone would yell “1-2-3 DEAD FISH” and all the kids would flop to the ground. The first to move/talk lost. It was very competitive, even with no actual prizes.)
These days my parents host Christmas Eve. All of my relatives on my dad’s side are invited with an open invitation to anyone else (other family members, friends) that might want to (or are brave enough) stop on by.
There’s no gift exchange… just a time to spend together. My mom usually makes clam chowder and chili and other people bring cookies, desserts, appetizers, etc. After a little while it’s too loud to even hear yourself think, much less carry on a conversation. That’s part of the fun, though. (I have 20+ first cousins on my dad’s side, ranging in age from 10 to 30ish.) Last year my Aunt Charlene brought guitars and music… we sat in the living room and “sang” Christmas carols.
Christmas Day is a little less crazy… at least in the number of people. We head up to my grandmothers, exchange personal/family gifts, have an early dinner, and then do the “Tree Gifts.” You might know the game as “White Elephant” or “Yankee Exchange.” It is one of the highlights of the day and often times get quite competitive. I don’t know when the Tree Gift tradition started–we’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember.
Growing up my sister and I felt special because we got to decorate TWO Christmas trees: our own and our grandparents’ on my mom’s side. (Their house is just up the driveway from my parents’ and my grandmother still lives there.) Eventually we got tired of decorating two… we couldn’t just decorate for fun anymore. Grammy got too specific of where she wanted the ornaments and how full she wanted the tree. And she has a LOT of ornaments: big balls, crystal bells and swans, glass icicles… and everything needed to go on.The icicles were the worst. She would tell us, “Squint your eyes!! Look for the holes!” after we declared the tree complete. We would moan and groan, putting icicles wherever we could find an empty branch. Then we would tease our cousins when it was their turn to decorate Grammy’s tree.
Now my mom decorates Grammy’s tree for her… poinsettias and icicles are the norm.
The icicles are a bit of a running joke with us granddaughters now, something we can reminisce about and laugh. But we all love our Grammy and if she really wanted us to put all of the icicles on her tree again, we would. And the crystal bells and swans, too. We all got icicles for Christmas last year from my mom. I put them on my own tree this year… and I squinted to see the holes.