Today is the first installment of Celebrating the Holidays at the Cafe! The topic: Holiday Traditions & Ideas.
I almost hate writing this, but my family actually has very few traditions :-( Every year I have big dreams to remedy that, BUT....we end up with the same decorations and same way of doing things every year. So, here are some of the things that are consistent each holiday season...
1. We do have an amazing nativity scene made by Willow Tree that gets prominently displayed on our fireplace. It is so simplistic, yet so beautiful. You can see it here.
2. Somewhere along the way, we acquired a set of four coffee mugs with Santa's eight reindeer on them: two per cup. We love them. Let me repeat that: we love them! I can't tell you exactly what it is about them, but my husband and I both hate when January rolls around and we have to pack them away for another year. Those are absolutely a holiday favorite!
3. Cookies and milk for Santa. I know that Santa has taken the focus off of the reason for the season, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But, I also believe that some of the most magical memories of my childhood are from waking up at 4 am Christmas morning, and sneaking through the house to see if Santa really came. I don't see anything wrong with letting my children have that same experience, as long as I also teach them about Jesus.
So, every year we set out a special plate that my sister gave us, that is just for Santa's cookies and milk. And he eats them every year :-)
4. I'd like to say that riding around our town looking at Christmas lights is a tradition. I really would. I enjoy that a LOT. But the last few holidays, for one reason or another, we just haven't done it. Maybe I should just pick a day RIGHT NOW and set it aside as the 2008 Christmas Light Driving Tour. (Sounds all official, doesn't it?)
5. Getting together with my family. My in-laws (with the exception of my mother-in-law) live several hours away, and we just don't see them every Christmas. But my family all lives in the same area, so we meet at mom and dad's house for a few hours to exchange gifts. We used to draw names when our families started growing, but now we just buy gifts for our parents and any little ones in the family.
Mom usually cooks a huge meal for everyone, but since she's almost 80 we're thinking of scaling it back a little. Maybe just snacks?? That one's still up in the air...
6. Using the children's ornaments on the tree. (See what our tree usually looks like here.)
I have this vision every Christmas of the perfectly decorated Christmas tree, just like Martha would have in her home. And every Christmas I end up with a tree that I think needs more lights. And coordinating ornaments. It's a tree covered in construction paper wreaths that my kids made in kindergarten. And collectible ornaments that have been broken because the kids thought they were toys to be played with and got a bit too rough. And really cheesy fake-velvet bows. (WHY did I buy those again?? Had I been drinking too much eggnog?)
Don't get me wrong: some of those handmade ornaments are just precious. But some of them are just junk.
I want a pretty tree. Not a junky one. (Girls, can I please get a witness?) Maybe I should just have two trees???
7. Peppermint Pig. On New Year's Day, I always serve the traditional meal of pork, greens and black-eyed peas. (Yum!) And a few years ago, we were introduced to a new "dessert:" a peppermint pig. (Read about them here.)
Everyone takes a whack at the pig with the little hammer, and then everyone shares the broken pieces, hoping for a year of good fortune. The first two years we did this were some of the best years Jeff and I ever had. I know, the superstition stuff is hogwash (no pun intended), but it makes for a good story, especially if you give a pig as a gift to someone else!
So, considering that it's still November and my mind refuses to embrace that fact that Christmas is just a flip of the calendar page away, those are the Christmas "traditions" that come to mind right now. I'll probably think of more later. But for now, I hope you've enjoyed a little glimpse into Christmas at my house!!