Once upon a time, I believed my family owned the copyright to all traditions. We’re pretty awesome. But somewhere in my mid 20s my eyes were opened. Ever since then I have loved learning and even implementing the traditions of others.
Cookies – is there any more universal tradition than the making and giving of Christmas cookies? (Well, probably.) My sister makes a sugar cookie that not only melts in your mouth, but sets the standard for what other sugar cookies strive to be. But then there’s my dad – the true Christmas Cookie Master (not monster). Many neighbors and friends have been lucky recipients of that blessed plate, delivered by my parents. I LOVE to walk in to their home at this time of the year to see every counter, table (and any other flat surface they can find) piled high with chocolate chip, peanut butter and the leg-en-dary gingersnap cookies. I know of *adults* who (while visiting their own parents for the holidays) have shown up on my parents’ porch for the soft, yummy gingersnap cookie that they enjoyed as a child.
‘Jesus Food’ – the most recent, and possibly my new favorite, Christmas tradition was introduced to me by my sister in-law a few years ago. On Christmas Eve we eat foods (or versions of) that were eaten in the era and regions of Jesus Christ. My normally picky-eater family LOVES our dinner of fish, cheese, grapes, pita bread, and olives. It’s surprisingly filling, and a (somewhat) healthy lead-in to the sweets that we’ll later indulge in.
Camping Out at the Tree – a friend shared about her family’s tradition of gathering sleeping bags, pillows, blankees and spending a cozy night on the floor by the Christmas tree. Norman Rockwell should have painted this family time, highlighted by the enchanting glow of the beloved tree.
Christmas Luncheon for Stay at Home Moms – that same friend also started a tradition of inviting over some girlfriends from the neighborhood (and their small kids) to come over for a pot-luck lunch while the big kids are at school. We refer to it as our Work Christmas Party.
Pajamas on Christmas Eve – a widely observed Christmas tradition: that ONE gift we get to open on Christmas Eve is new jammies. My uncle first implemented the tradition in their home because he loathed the Christmas day photos from his own childhood – the kids were all wearing hole-y (not holy) pajamas. So to make sure that every scrapbook was filled with cherished photos (instead of dreaded) the Pajama Tradition was launched.
Movies on Christmas Day – I married in to this tradition, and it is NOT *my* favorite, but definitely is a favorite for my husband and big kids. Much conversation goes in to deciding which blockbuster they will go see, and you’d better believe there is much splurging on popcorn, soda and candy.
Dart Guns – every few years my husband and I resurrect this tradition from his childhood. Whether it’s the latest and greatest Nerf has to offer or the plastic darts from the dollar store, the Christmas Day Dart Gun War in the family room makes great holiday memories. There truly is something special about being down in the trenches, taking shelter behind the sofa, and planning your next attack on your parents and siblings.
Christmas Day Eating – I miss the clam dip my grandma used to make on Christmas Day, and not knowing that it was the lactose in the eggnog that was giving me a tummy ache. I wish I could still eat cookies by the plateful. But when it comes to Christmas Day ‘eating’, a favorite and rather unique tradition at my parents’ home is BBQ pork chops for breakfast. My dad dutifully and lovingly takes his chilly perch outside at the grill to bring us perfect ‘chops to go alongside yummy hash browns and eggs. Once again – a yummy, high-protein start to a high-carb rest of the day.
Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition, or even bring back the old ones. Whether you’re cooking up a storm or driving around looking at Christmas lights, don’t let this special time of year pass you by without stopping to smell the… uh – cookies.