Holiday Traditions

December 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm | Posted in Holidays | 12 Comments

We’re headed out East for what will be my second official Christmas with my new marriedfamily*.

Being away from my biofamily* at Christmas makes me realize how important family traditions are. It’s sad really, but last time I spent Christmas with my marriedfamily, it just didn’t feel like the real Christmas.

Growing up, we always went to church on Christmas Eve, then headed to my grandparent’s house for dinner and gift opening. It wasn’t Christmas Eve without a certain type of chocolate and pecan covered cookie (I have no clue what they’re called, but they just melt in your mouth), and Grandpa’s red plaid Christmas pants (not to be outdone, my grandma recently acquired a matching pair. It’s adorable!). We’d play with our cousins… I remember always trying to herd them into some sort of theatrical production that none of the adults really wanted to watch. Or we’d play with the giant dollhouse in the basement, or the ping pong table, or the air hockey table. In recent years, we’ve just hung out and talked, since we’re actually old enough to enjoy just talking to each other. After we’d gotten our fill of shrimp cocktail and cookies (and my grandpa finished off the raw meat and fishes that none of the kids would ever even think about eating), we’d open presents. Every year, my grandma buys too much for us, and every year, my grandpa claims that he was the one that went to the store and bought it. We pretend to be fooled.

Then, we head home to sleep and await Santa’s arrival.

In the morning, we wait until everyone wakes up. Poor Trevor – when Ashley, Robby, and I were younger, we’d be up early, ready to get a start on opening the plethora of gifts under the tree. Now that we’re older, we sleep in later. And, one of my siblings is not to be woken under penalty of death. Ahem, you know who you are. So, we wait. Someone makes cinnamon rolls and we eat them, then read the Christmas story from the bible. Finally, it’s present time!

In the afternoon, we’ll usually head over to visit with my mom’s family. (unless it’s an “off year” for them… then we’ll gather with them on one of the weekends close to Christmas).  My mom’s family is the louder of my two biofamilies.  I blame my uncles for this, mostly, but they’re hilarious, so we’ll let it go.  With my mom’s family, we have a huge dinner/lunch and then we swap gifts.  We each buy one gift that anyone might find appealing… so on Christmas, we put all the presents in a pile and pick numbers.  We go in numerical order, picking a present out of the unwrapped pile or stealing from someone else.  We usually go through the order twice.  It’s hilarious to see what gifts everyone brings – there’s always some sort of hunting equipment, tools, and kitchen-y stuff.  Then, the desserts come out.  These are amazing desserts, compliments of my baking grandma.  I seriously hope I inherited at least a little of this woman’s baking (and cooking) abilities!  Seriously.

My marriedfamily has all sorts of other traditions.  I’ve only picked up on a few of them – for example, on Christmas morning, we wake up to find fruit outside our doors, and J has to throw it at his sister’s head.  Then, we all have to wait upstairs until EVERYONE is ready and J’s mom takes a picture, and THEN, we can go downstairs to see the goodies under the tree.  I’ll have to wait and see what other Christmas traditions take place next week…

And it will be interesting to see which traditions J and I decide to adopt as we continue to build our own little family (so far, the only tradition we’ve got is spoiling our boy Barley!).

And now, I’m curious…  What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?  Spill the beans!

*I keep referring to people as “J’s Family” and “My Family” – but I guess now that we’re married, they’re both *technically* both of our families… so I’ll be referring to anyone who shares genetics with me as my “Biofamily” and anyone who shares genetics with Jason as my “Marriedfamily”.



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  1. It’s very fun to see what aspects of the whole Christmas craziness you remember most or find endearing. But what about the pickle? We are saving that for when you get here on your way back. You won last year so you buy the gift this year, right?

  2. oh yes! the pickle gift is mine to purchase and give this year. we’ll do that the weekend after new years.

  3. Hi Jen! One of our traditions is to got to this Chinese restaurant that is the ONLY thing open on Christmas Eve…we stumbled upon it one year on our way home from our Christmas Eve service. It was about 10:30 p.m. and we were all starving. Then, through big, wet snowflakes, we saw the sign…OPEN! We all started yelling (my mom was still alive and with us at the time) and we pulled in. We felt like the family from The Christmas Story and chowed down. We had so much fun that we’ve continued the tradition every Christmas Eve and take a picture of ourselves in front of “China Taste.” Then we sing to ourselves, “Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra, Ra Ra Ra Ra!!!” 🙂 Merry Christmas to you…can’t wait to hear when you get your camera!


  4. I found this blog while trying to find information about holiday traditions. I have to say that I was completely shocked after having read this post.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. You come off sounding like a rich, spoiled, immature brat who isn’t getting her way. You have something that very few people ever get: Two families. And, although I don’t know your specific situation, my guess is that both families love you very much. Is throwing a virtual temper tantrum any way to acknowledge and accept that love?

    One of the many joys of marriage is sharing your lives with each other. Included in that is sharing your traditions. I feel bad that your priest/pastor didn’t make this clear to you. Obviously, if you’re not ready to share new experiences, you’re not ready for marriage. I also feel bad for you because if you’d only open your eyes, mind and heart, you might just learn something. Not everyone is as rich or privileged as you, but that does not lessen or worsen their traditions or make them inferior to yours. If you could only be open to it, you might learn that their traditions are just as special and valuable as yours. And, when the time comes for you and your husband to build your own traditions, you might find that his family’s traditions will find a place in your own; it’s all part of sharing your lives together.

    There are people in this world who would kill to just have a Christmas, and you are bitching about how you won’t have your special chocolate, cookies, thousands of presents from your grandparents (only after you finish your shrimp cocktail) and your family pictures and bible stories. And why won’t you have all of these things you love so much? Because you are going to your husband’s family for Christmas, and therefore have to suffer with traditions that you don’t understand and/or don’t like. Damn, how much does it suck to be you? You have to go to someone else’s house, live under their roof, use their heat and hot water, eat their food and suffer without your shrimp cocktail.

    I’m not sure if you know this or not, but there are millions of people out there who are lucky and thankful to have Christmas, and have people to spend Christmas with. But, what about the people out there who aren’t so lucky? Have you even bothered to think about them? Have you ever bothered to help them or “walk a mile in their shoes?” You seem to be very privileged, so why can’t you just help those less fortunate than you? Seriously… See what the homeless have to go through over the holidays. Help all of the people out there who have no families, no warm meals or no gifts this holiday season. Since I highly doubt you will ever do anything to help anyone but yourself, can you just do everyone a favor and just think about those who are less fortunate than you? Then, think about all of your bible stories. I think you will find that you aren’t nearly as Christian as you want to believe you are.

    Instead of asking others for holiday traditions, why don’t you take some advice from the Bible: Consider helping at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Food banks and Toys for Tots need donations. There are thousands of ways that you can help your fellow citizens that would make for excellent and honorable traditions. Consider helping someone less fortunate than crying over your missed shrimp cocktail.

    God forbid you should ever accept your husband’s traditions as your own, or even take the time to understand and appreciate them. And, God forbid you should ever recognize that there are people out there who won’t have a holiday, won’t spend a holiday with loved ones, won’t have shrimp (or food at all) or won’t have millions of presents under a tree (or even a tree). And, God forbid that you should ever be truly thankful for the blessings that you do have.

    PS–I pee the bed.

  5. Interesting perspective, Anonymous. Especially as I meant this to be a post reflecting on Christmases past, not complaining about current or future Christmas’. But you are right about one thing – I am lucky to have two great families to spend the holidays with.

    I wonder if you’d be surprised to hear that my husband and I have donated time, money, toys, and food this past year. I wonder if you’d be surprised to hear that I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful marriage.

    I am shocked by the things that you feel comfortable inferring about me based on a few simple paragraphs. I, in no way, meant this as a complaint, but as a statement to those I love to let them know that they, and the traditions we share together will be missed this year. I also mean this as a statement to others I love that I look forward to spending time with them, learning about their traditions, and sharing these traditions in the future.

  6. I don’t think “Anonymous” likes shrimp cocktail.
    I hope his/her comments don’t bother you. You and your family are very caring and giving. I wonder if this person has ever fostered a child from a different country that needs life saving surgery or has flown to remote parts of Canada spreading Christ’s message. I hope Anonymous finds peace and happiness this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!!
    Our Savior is Born.

  7. That blog from Anonymous was so completely out of order!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That person has no idea of what a sincerely wonderful person you are. I am so angry that someone would misread you so badly. Enough said! They certainly did not read your Thanksgiving blog!

  8. J&J
    Don’t let the comments from anonymous bother you. They are the product of a warped and/or a sick person. I wouldn’t have even tried to answered them because they won’t understand any way. You just end up playing their sick game. I had a policy in the office never to talk to unidentified phone calls and unsigned letters went directly into the circular file(waste basket).It doesn’t take any guts to make anonymous statements.
    Lotsa luv

  9. Is there any way you can delete that horrible thing? I loved Courtneys comment! She must be a real character.

  10. To Anonymous,
    How truly unfortunate… the ability to play coward and call names (I have learned over the years when you have nothing of value to say, call names, it accomplishes nothing, makes you seem big and generally makes a negative impact on the recipient) with nary an understanding of a person,their past experiences or deeds… or how traditions get started, or continue.

    Yes anonyomus, I am calling you out… Courage behind a key board, man up and step forward, I think you and I need a little discussion time. The name calling clearly underscores your inability to reason or comprehend anyone or thing beyond you. I pitty you for your simpleness. I congratulate you on rasing my ire…. not easily done.

    I’d take care of you myself but your time will come…

    At some point, a decision on your life will be handed out(no God doesn’t go under the tag line anonymous, he will be front and center) I wonder if your too tight undies will be stylish in hell.
    Merry Christmas,

  11. Thanks everyone for the sweet comments.

    Anonymous’ comments are a good reminder of a few things:
    1. The internet is a public place, not a personal diary. Anyone can read it and comment on it, whether they know what they’re talking about or not.
    2. I am lucky, you are lucky, we are all pretty darn lucky. There is not a day that goes by (especially recently, with increasing news of those that suffer due to economy, war, etc) that goes by that I don’t thank God and acknowledge all of my blessings. I do consistently try to make life better for those around me. Could I do more? Certainly. Am I going to start listing every single one of my blessings on this blog daily? No. Because no one likes a bragger.
    3. My husband is seriously hilarious. He added that “PS-I pee the bed” comment at the end, and provided some much needed comic relief to what might have been an insulting comment.
    4. There are people out there that like to rain on your parade and be negative nellies and stand on their soapbox and preach and all of that. And, you just gotta ignore it. Take it in stride. Don’t let it get to you.
    5. My blog readers are awesome.

  12. Seriously, who reads someone else’s blog then posts rude comments about someone they don’t even know?? Anyways, we miss you here at GGG’s! I was not bad last year when I got woken up at 8… and I won’t be this year… I think we are going to do what Jason had us do last year, and wait upstairs til everyone is awake… Just thought I would comment cuz we are having a debate between the meaning of “simile” and “metaphor” and Mom and I think we’re right and this blog was up when I came into the computer room at GGG’s to look it up… See you on the 2nd?!?!

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