Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Traditions

What are your Christmas Traditions?

Each family has its own way of celebrating the holidays, and as we grow up and form our own families, we blend the traditions of our families to form new ways to observe holidays and other special events. Traditions are important, because they give us a familiar comfort zone to which we can always retreat in difficult times, and they provide focus for activities we conduct as a family. I'm particularly interested in the concept of traditions writ large as they shape the lives and destinies of families and groups (this has long been the kernel around which I've tried to develop the idea for my eventual novel - no fair stealing the idea, Serena!). As Sir Stephen said in Story of O, "I have a fondness for habits and ritual."

But I digress. What are your Christmas Traditions?

Ours begin the day after Thanksgiving, which is when we kick off the season by putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house inside and out. This includes sub-traditions like The Cursing of the Non-Lighting Lights, The Sweeping of the Broken Ornaments, The Search for the Missing Decorations, and the ever-popular Watch Bilbo Try Not to Fall Off the Ladder While Hanging Non-Lighting Lights from the Eaves. A fairly new tradition is Watch Bilbo Throw the Radio Out the Window After Hearing Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer for the Five Thousandth Time.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve we don't have any particular traditions. My daughter-in-law Tabitha would tell you that I observe the ritual of The Late Mailing of the Gifts, but I think that's just laziness rather than ritual. I should know...I'm the guy who put the "pro" in procrastination.

We celebrate Christmas in the German way. On Christmas Eve we have a traditional dinner of baked ham and warm potato salad, after which we exchange and open gifts. This is the celebration for the immediate family. Christmas Day is the celebration for friends; we invite our close friends over for a visit and our traditional Christmas dinner of Rouladen, red cabbage, mashed potatoes and salad.

There are the after-Christmas traditions, too, like Try to Lose the Holiday Weight, Figure Out How to Get All the Decorations Back Into the Boxes, and Oh My God, How Will We Pay For All This?

For the moment, though, it's not yet Christmas, and the ordinary daily rituals apply: The Walking Of the Dog, The Feeding Of the Dog, The Search In the Darkness For the Matching Socks, and The Sluggish Movement Of the Lazy Rear to Work.

Unfortunately, it's time to observe the last one.

Have a good day. Observe your own traditions. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

I have that last daily tradition of yours too!

As for Christmas traditions...Christmas Eve dinner is my favorite...

John said...

Fun post to read. As always, a great sense of humor and wit. Try a dozen or so pairs of the same dark socks to increase your chances of matching them in the dark.

Amanda said...

That was an interesting read. And your traditions really sound like so much fun.

We normally have Christmas Eve lunch at my maternal grandmother's house and then dinner at my paternal grandmother's. Midnight mass followed by a 2am 'breakfast'.

Christmas Day is usually just a slow moving day visiting friends and family.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

All families celebrate Christmas in their own way, and it is usually a similar style each year.