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Christmas Traditions

December 24th, 2006

I don’t have many Christmas traditions that I honor every year but there are a few.  I already mentioned that the tree can’t go up before 12/1 and needs to come down by 12/31.  I get that one from my mom.  She found it depressing to take the tree down after the holidays or on New Years Day and I completely agree.  There is already the let down of it being January, cold and dark outside, and no long weekends to look forward to for awhile – why deal with the undecorating too?

I used to always attend Christmas Eve services.  I love the candlelight service with the bell choir – absolutely love it.  But I haven’t found a church in my new city that I like so I haven’t been as faithful to that one.  I went to my mother-in-law’s church 2 years ago.  It was a Lutheran church but a little too close to Catholic for me.  I don’t like taking communion in a strange church and I felt like I should kiss the minister’s ring – it was just a bit uncomfortable for me.  Last year, my mom was here and we tried to go.  We showed up at a church with a sign saying “Christmas Eve service 6pm” only to find it dark and locked.  Weird.  I might try another tomorrow…we’ll see what my mood is.

Another family tradition is Christmas Eve dinner.  We always have spaghetti.  It started with my grandparents (no we aren’t Italian) and has continued on.  Some people find that an odd tradition but it is one we enjoy.

We never opened any gifts on Christmas Eve when I was a child.  We had to wait for Christmas morning (and it had to be light out…found that one out the hard way).  Steve’s family has always opened one gift on Christmas Eve so we’ve done that the last few years.  I always find it interesting when blending family traditions.  My family always had a very civilized opening of presents.  We all took turns so everyone could see what everyone else got.  Steve’s family just kind of does a free-for-all.  Neither is right or wrong…I just miss seeing reactions when people open gifts.  I love trying to find the right gift for everyone so I like to see them open it.

One tradition I used to love was Magic Reindeer food.  For 4 years after college, I spent Christmas Eve working at a domestic violence shelter.   The kids were always worried that Santa wouldn’t find them because they weren’t at home.  I would prepare baggies of magic reindeer food (raw oatmeal and silver glitter) and explain to the kids that it would help Rudoulph find them.  It looks so pretty on snow – but works on plain old grass too.  The tag on the baggy said:

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

I’ll be missing one tradition today.  My dad was not a particularly sentimental guy but we had one tradition between just us.  Every year, no matter where we were, I would call him before bed.  He would read me Twas the Night Before Christmas every year.  I’ve made that call from some strange places over the years – work, in-laws, locked in a bathroom at a holiday party, my car, maybe even from a sidewalk in front of a bar one year.  I never missed that call.  Through the years it sometimes meant more to one of us than the other (during my teen years, I made the call for him…later I made it more for me) but it was our tradition.  It was our thing – one of the few things that existed just between the 2 of us.  Tonight there will be no call.  My mom offered to fill in tonight but I declined.  This year I will take a break from the tradition.  Next year, with Sabrina, I will decide how I want to continue it.  Either I will take over the reading of the story or I will let Mom step in – I’ll see what feels right.

Please share the traditions that are important to you.

In honor of my tradition, I will print it here.  The original version by Clement Clarke Moore.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 24th, 2006 at 1:35 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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