October 1, 2009

Spinning up some Holiday Traditions


You can already feel the magic in the air as the holidays approach at a rapid pace.  *ducking for cover*  I know, it's only the first day of October and I'm using the H word.  But this is truly when the traditions start to really kick in as the upcoming festivities prevail.

Since I don't traditionally decorate for Halloween with ghosts and goblins and ghouls and witches, I  keep the decorations pretty generic with a 'Fall' theme.  Sure I have scarecrows and pumpkins included, but not the scary kind.  That way I'm covered not only for Halloween but for Thanksgiving, too.

Thanksgiving Day is such an enjoyable time, though I do spend a majority of it in the kitchen.  But I enjoy cooking the Thanksgiving Feast, so it's not such a bad place to be.  My mom always cooked a wonderful feast on Thanksgiving Day, and having the whole family together giving thanks was always so much fun.  Eating the feast was even more fun. 

Now that I live so far away from my family, I still follow with the traditions instilled in us growing up.  I want to instill those same traditions in the Princess Nagger to pass on to her future family, too. 

I cook a huge Thanksgiving feast - whether it's just going the be the three of us, or if we end up having 15 people over to share the blessings.  I don't even mind the clean up afterwards, because I'm still buzzed from wine the whole 'thankful' thing.  I never venture out the day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday does not appeal to me.  Been there, done that - twice, and vowed never to be suckered convinced to ever do it again.  Instead, I start to pull out the boxes of Christmas decorations to swap the fall decorations with Christmas ones.

My original tradition was to wait until the first Saturday after December 9th to go out and get a live Christmas tree and do all my Christmas decorating.  Why?  Because my birthday happens to be on December 9th.  I didn't want my birthday celebration 'muddied' by the influx of Christmas decor - after all, you get bombarded with Christmas earlier and earlier each year, and being that my birthday is a mere two weeks from Christmas I ended up getting gypped by the old "This is your birthday and Christmas present!" routine.  Bah Humbug!  Christmas was not going to invade my birthday.  Not on my watch.

And then I grew up.

Or, I realized that I was spending a lot of time and effort decking the halls for Christmas, only to have to yank it all down two weeks later.  That's a lot of work in a short two-week period of time.  So I started a new tradition - Christmas decorating over Thanksgiving weekend.  That way I have a nice, long weekend to get all my fall decorations taken down and the over abundance of Christmas decorations put up.  Quite frankly once I changed that tradition, it seemed to make my birthday even more festive.  Go figure.

One of the very important traditions of Christmas when growing up was that we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve.  In Swedish tradition, Christmas Eve is the height of the festivities. Traditionally it is a day when "no work should be done other than seeing to one's livestock." This is the day of the Christmas feast, which comprises a smörgåsbord including a few traditional dishes such as ham, jellied pigs feet, lutfisk and rice porridge. Thankfully, though, my mom didn't include the jellied pigs feet in our Christmas Eve smörgåsbord.  Pickled herring, though, was a different story.

We'd have a huge Christmas dinner, we'd play games, enjoy family, and yes, open our presents on Christmas Eve.  It was my Swedish Great-Grandmother's tradition, passed down.  We would, of course, wake up Christmas morning and excitedly go see what Santa left us overnight. 

You see, the gifts we opened on Christmas Eve were the boring ones - the ones from parents and grandparents.  The pajamas and socks and wildly knit sweaters we would put on only for a picture and quickly shove into the back of the dresser or closet, conveniently forgetting about them until...darn!  They don't fit any more, how sad!

But Christmas morning was always the exciting morning - because that's when we'd get the cool gifts.  The ginormous play house one year - the barbie camper and skiing Ken another....those were the fun Christmases and my parents did a great job keeping the magic alive for us when we were kids.  I don't remember how old I was when we decided that Santa really wasn't all that and we stopped getting Santa gifts on Christmas morning.  But we still celebrated on Christmas Eve anyway.  It was tradition.

One year my dad suggested we do what 'normal' people do and open one gift on Christmas Eve and save the rest for the next morning.  We reluctantly agreed (not that we really had any say in the matter) and each opened one gift Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning we took turns opening our gifts - but for some reason the 'magic' didn't seem to be as prominent.  Maybe because Santa was no longer bringing the magic.  We cleaned up the wrapping paper mess and went about our day.  It didn't feel right.  It felt like a regular, ordinary day.  With gifts.

We went back to our Christmas Eve tradition the following year and never deterred from it again.  We decided that doing what our Great-Grandmother (and her mother, and her mother, and so on, and so on) had passed down to us was worth keeping the magic alive.  We figured out that the reason waiting until Christmas Day to celebrate didn't feel right was because it was only one day.  Celebrating on Christmas Eve, we got to celebrate for two days. 

Now that I have a little munchkin to spoil rotten spin some magic with, we're keeping that tradition alive, too.  On Christmas Eve she gets to open all the gifts from friends and family.  Of course being as young as she is, it takes a major feat to get her in bed at a reasonable hour so she can be fast asleep before Santa makes his appearance.  We almost got busted one year close to midnight as we were relocating the 'Santa gifts' from the shed into the house under the tree - luckily hubby has 'teacher hearing' and heard the pitter patter of little feet upstairs.

I went up to investigate.  Princess Nagger had scurried down the hall and was hiding, giggling, behind the door in the guest room.  It took a while to get her all settled back into bed, with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head, so we could complete our Santa task unnoticed.  We decided to wait a little longer to be sure she was sound asleep and wouldn't wake up and spoil the surprise.  By the time we finished, it was 2am. 

Now we all simply go to bed at a reasonable hour and I set my alarm for 3am to get up and move the packages in stealth mode.  In the dead of night.  In my jammies.  Hopefully the neighbors aren't up at that ungodly hour watching me balancing packages between the shed and the house.  Unless they can't sleep and are in need of a good laugh.

Since Swedish Christmas celebrating starts on the first Sunday of Advent, Princess Nagger starts her Advent Calendar - she has a felt one with just numbered pockets to put the felt candy cane in to mark off each day as Christmas Eve approaches, but I always make sure I get her one of those chocolate advent calendars...so she can have a piece of chocolate every day during Advent.  I also get one for myself and one for my hubby - so we can have a piece of chocolate a day, too.  It's a tradition.

What are your Holiday Traditions?


This post was brought to you by the Spin Cycle... To see what kind of traditions others are enjoying, stop over to see Jen, she's keeping traditions alive for  Sprite as her Keeper and I bet she'd love to hear all about yours!    

31 Random Sassy Comments:

Martha in PA said...

I am TOTALLY going to enjoy every single day of Fall, but I can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas too, this will be the first year in 6 yrs that we spend with family. Most years mom visited at Christmas, but one year it was just Tara and I. We already plan to rent the community room here so we can have a big family dinner! I can't wait. Tara loves her advent calendar! It was so hard being Santa.... there were several years I almost got caught. Don't have to worry about that anymore!

Just Breathe said...

I do my decorations for Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend too.
But it takes me at least 10 days before I'm done. I cook the big meal too. Our kids are older but not entertaining dinners yet. The rest of the extended family are all out of town. Growing up we did Santa on Christmas Eve. We would go to church and Santa came while we were gone. So now our kids spend time with their spouses family on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day with us. I go to a Christmas Eve service. We started making prime rib for Christmas Day.
It's allot of work but always well worth it.

Jaime said...

thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. i love having the family together and spending 2 days cooking all the food with my mom and sister.

but i can't stand the stores decorating for christmas and the radio plays nothing but christmas carols the day after halloween. i had to buy an xm radio so that i could listen to something other than jingle bells all november long

Vodka Logic said...

Last years Christmas just didnt get exciting for me. We had a major ice storm in the North East and we had no power for days...this all right before Christmas. We did get power back before the holiday.

My husband is Swedish so the boring gifts get opened on the eve. Needing to blend the two familys we still wait for Christmas day to open the majority. and Santa gifts.

My job having odd hours and family being far away we tend to spend it alone, just the 4 of us.. I like it quiet.

As the kids are older some of the traditions relax but we still talk about them and enjoy the changes
xx

otin said...

I loved the reference to the boring gifts. It always seemed like you knew whose gifts that you were going to hate, and being a kid, it was hard to contain you disappointment when you got a pack of socks! LOL!

Yaya said...

I'm not a huge holiday decorator. I can't stand putting it up and taking it down. And the added clutter gets my OCD going.

Traditions? Hoping to start some new ones as soon as we have kids!

LiLu said...

I am totally crashing your house for Thanksgiving.

Hit 40 said...

I wanted to start a new tradition of a family trip over christmas with no gifts. We went to Orlando last year. This year Austin's band is taking a trip over Christmas. So.... I think we are back to gifts??? Bummer.

kyooty said...

What great traditions. I've got 11days until Thanksgiving. When we lived int eh USA we did both Canadian and US ThanksGiving, some years I'll cook TG dinner in November up here as well. Here's a 3day weekend for us. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Christmas is the 1 gift and then to bed because the kids getto bed earlier and we can be sure they are asleep before I start getting to "work".
My husband is of Polish descent and they do a lot of celebrating on Christmas Eve but we Celebrate until the 7th of January. The decorations are a slow process so that the boys can stay focused on school until break, before that they get too antsy and homework and other tasks get too side tracked.

Jan said...

You have lovely holiday traditions! I love cooking the huge feast on Thanksgiving, too - only I don't clean up. Beloved herds the kids into the kitchen and makes them do it. I love that man.

I had to laugh at you getting up at 3 a.m. to sneak Santa's presents into the house. Too funny!

Tammy Howard said...

Too much to leave in a comment! But thanks for the inspiration for future posts. :-)

buffalodick said...

Frankly,Up until my parents were gone, I would host the party one year, my sister the next.. We tried to do it a couple times after they passed, but my sister and brother aren't close- he never showed. Finally gave up on that side of the family.. Wife's side is Christmas Eve- only the kids get presents! The rest of us eat! It's a good time..

Sprite's Keeper said...

The beautiful weather I've woken up to this morning has me in a fall mood. I'm really looking forward to this holiday season especially since Sprite is beginning to really get it. She knows that Christmas and Hanukkah mean presents (she's not old enough to get the more meaningful parts) and Thanksgiving means a lot of family and the day after, Mommy looks hungover. Yes, I do participate in the Black Friday events EVERY YEAR and actually enjoy it, but mostly to defend my mom and her best friend who are certifiable on those days. Great traditions, I can't wait to see pictures and please put some holiday recipes up for me to try! You're linked!

Jenners said...

Oops! Did the shoe I threw at you hit you or did you duck quick enough?

I did enjoy reading this post EVEN THOUGH IT IS ONLY OCTOBER 1ST AND I AM OPPOSED TO TALKING ABOUT THE OTHER HOLIDAYS BEFORE NOVEMBER 1ST.

I'll come back and read it again when I'm ready.

humph.

Brian Miller said...

i look forward to thanksgiving dinner 364 days a year. and i always tried to get my mom to celebrate on shristmas eve...it never worked. oh well christmas day was always fun! happy fall!

Mango Girl said...

The turkey picture made my mouth water!!! Reading the rest of the post almost made me wish I had little ones around again...the wonderment in the eyes of a child on Christmas morning ~ pure Joy!!!

xo, Mango

Kathy B! said...

Decorations Dec 1st, cookie baking constantly (!), Christmas eve mass and big dinner, all gifts on Christmas day :)

Medora said...

That turkey makes me hungry - most of your posts do!

Kristina P. said...

I don't decorate for anything, other than Christmas. And I didn't even want to do that, until 3 years ago. And then I went hog wild, and I love decorating for Christmas. I do it the day after Thanksgiving.

We also have a fake tree, and I bought one of those decorating kits from Target, so it's really easy to put the tree up.

We don't really have other traditions. My family didn't have a lot of holiday traditions growing up, and my husband and I don't have kids, so we just do what we feel like doing.

blueviolet said...

I really can't believe I'm talking about this on October 1st. ;)

We open our presents on Christmas day. All of the presents always went out on Christmas Eve but Santa's were wrapped in different paper. The Santa years were fun but it's SO much easier now!

Heather, aka Jake's Mommy said...

Ha, I just wrote a holiday post last night, too! I guess we all are all sort of feeling this same thing regarding starting the long race towards the holidays.

We have a tradition of eating Thanksgiving dinner (always enough to feed 20 people although we never have more than 10) and then we go and look at Christmas lights. Most places start their lights on Thanksgiving. Then, we ALWAYS participate in Black Friday, just because it's just one of those parts of the season. I talk myself out of it every year, but then by mid-January it's just a sweet memory that I can't wait to relive. We put up our Christmas decorations (inside and out) on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Our Christmas traditions include making homemade salt dough ornaments for friends and family (from Jake), purchasing a new 'family' ornament for the tree, baking a special Christmas treat at least once a week, doing at least one charity thing like spending a day at a soup kitchen or donating something to the children's hospital, and we always go to see a movie on Christmas night.

We always have a large pot roast dinner on Christmas Eve and open up presents from friends and family. However, all presents from our parents and Santa were opened on Christmas morning. We are carrying on this tradition with Jake. He sees his wrapped presents out for the most of the month of December. But on Christmas morning, Santa always stuffs his stocking and leaves a huge Santa toy with a big red bow.

Gosh, I love this time of year!

Unknown Mami said...

This post made me so excited about creating magic for my daughter. Thank you!

Mel Fraase said...

I can't believe it's time to start thinking of the holidays. Our Christmas Eve is one present and any relatives' if we're not home. Christmas morning has been the majority of the present opening, followed by a late, big breakfast and lounging in our jammies :)

The Redhead Riter said...

"I realized that I was spending a lot of time and effort decking the halls for Christmas, only to have to yank it all down two weeks later."

You are so right! It is so much work that I am exhausted throughout the holiday season.

Mrsbear said...

I'm so not ready for the holidays yet. Yikes. I love love love the eating portion of the traditions, just thinking about it makes me hungry. Now the logistics of Christmas, hiding presents, wrapping them on the sly, bringing them back out in the wee hours. Just thinking about it is exhausting. So not ready yet.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Now you've got me excited for the holidays!
Great Spin.
And thanks for commenting at my blog today!

Jack said...

That turkey looks great.

CaJoh said...

Great Spin. We typically have two thanksgivings— one with our kids the Sunday before, and one with other family members on the day. I don't know how many wishbones we have collected over the years, but it's a testament to our diligence.

Megan said...

Kyle's family has always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. My family always on Christmas. {and because we're now married AND my parents are divorced, it works just fantabulously!} Growing up, we always opened PJ's and an ornament on Christmas Eve. I still try to do that with Kyle but he's not as into as me. :0P

Mama Badger said...

Ooooh, the chocolate advent calendar. Mmmm. I might need to get a Cadbury one this year. Maybe we'll get LG one, too.

Brochure Printing said...

I envy you guys sometimes. In our place, we never celebrate Thanksgiving. I want to experience turkey even just once. :D Haha!
But seriously... I'm so envious.