While I was away for my Christmas break, Jodi was musing on traditions and asking what other people do. I was thinking about my family and our traditions and realizing that…well…we're not really all that traditional.
James and I don’t actually have any real traditions of our own. Unless you can count arguing over who will put of the tree and then not doing it. We usually try to watch a Christmas themed movie together but that’s pretty much it. Since we spend our holiday away from our L.A. home, we both tend to rely on our families to provide any sort of traditional trappings.
I guess my family traditions start on Christmas Eve. My mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and myself all go to the candlelight service at my mother’s church (my other brother and his family spend the evening with his wife’s family). The service is always nice. It’s a pretty mellow church so there is some modern-ish music, a bell choir, lots of kids running around making noise and what have you but the best part is the FIRE. Who knew that fire could make church that much more entertaining?
Since the candle is usually only lit for the last song in a candlelight service (generally “Silent Night), you are pretty much left holding on to an unlit candle for an hour. My brother realized years ago that if you held it tightly, you could warm the wax in your hands and bend the candle into a whole new shape. This has become a sort of contest to see who can get the best shape without breaking the candle. Last year, my sister-in-law distorted his candle so much it refused to light!
Sadly, this year none of us could get the candles to bend. Most of them broke in the process and one party-pooper (yes, I am talking about YOU!) decided not to participate. BOO!
My own Christmas Eve tradition is a quiet one. I guess my dad and mom know about it, I am quite sure my sister-in-law does too. I like to sing my own versions of the Christmas songs. They are half formed and really, since I am not a loud singer (I’m not a very good singer either) no one hears them but it entertains me. A personal favorite is “Mark the Hairy Angel Sings” but the best part is where the chorus goes “Or-orrr-or-orrrr-or-orrr-OREO, in excelsior DAYGLOW!”
Other than that, I guess we only have a tradition that came about in the past few years. And I am not really sure why or how it happened. My mom started buying Christmas crackers to put on the plates at Christmas dinner. Christmas crackers are a British Holiday trimming, so I don’t know what inspired them but you know how they work, right? You pull on the little strings inside of them and they pop loudly. Inside there is a little prize and a joke (or a “motto” I think they are called) and a paper crown. It’s the crown that gets the most attention. Whenever I show friends pictures of my Christmas at home they are most amused by the photos of my entire family, sitting around the table eating Christmas dinner, sporting paper crowns. Well, everyone except the babies. For some reason, every baby has refused to wear the crown. Each of my nephews has allowed the crown to be put on his head for a moment but then has ripped it off and sat looking at the rest of the crowned family bemusedly.
Mostly, our Christmases really do seem to just be about being together. Our Christmas day lasts ALL day, you can open your stocking alone in your bedroom if you wake up early but then we all have breakfast together (by all, I mean anyone who has stayed in my mom’s house) and it’s usually “Eggs Goldenrod”. Then showers, then the opening of presents, then the other brother shows up and there is more opening of presents, then dinner, then sitting around playing with presents. It’s all good and surprisingly mellow.
I guess we don’t have much in the way of traditions but we do have our fun.