Whenever you read a Christmas themed book or watch ones of those ubiquitous specials, there are always happy families getting together for a big dinner, usually consisting of a roast turkey (or in an historical romance a goose or maybe pheasant) and to me that’s just not what Christmas is. Yeah, there are a lot of family get-together, but they always devolve into shouting matches about one thing or another. In my family, we even instituted rules regarding what we were and weren’t allowed to talk about on the holiday (or any time we had a big family get-together). These topics included everything from politics to school (because my cousin is a teacher and my aunt always attacked him about the state of the NYC Department of Education). At one point, I was afraid my aunt would ban us from talking about the weather out of fear of a conversation about Global Warming, which my Fox News watching, climate denying family would always scoff about if it was cold on Christmas (“See, it is snowing; I told you Global Warming was fake!).
There were, however, some nice traditions that we had in my family. When I was a kid, we would celebrate Christmas Eve with my mom’s family and Christmas Day at my dad’s sister’s house. This was always cool because on that side of my family I had a bevy of cousins to hang out with whereas on my mom’s side it was just Jimmy, Nicole, and me, and since Nicole was so much younger than me there really wasn’t anything for us to do together.
Obviously, Jimmy had a cold that year. Anyway, I actually have more memories of Christmases at Grandma’s house than I do of those at my Aunt Florence’s. I do have pictures, but some of those are embarrassing for my cousins, so I won’t be posting those here.
One Christmas I remember particularly well was Christmas 1996 when everyone at Grandma’s house was sick, so we only stopped there briefly on Christmas morning to bring them their presents. At that time, those Koosh Balls were very popular and since Aunt Mary always liked flinging rubber bands, mom brought her some of those.
The title of this post is about my favorite holiday traditions and I have to admit that we don’t actually have all that many Christmas traditions in my family. Until recently, my mom would let Jimmy and me open one present on Christmas Eve and of course that one would be a pair of pajamas for us to wear that night. While pictorial evidence out there, none of it exists on this computer.
My favorite traditions have more to do with New Year’s Eve than Christmas. Starting in 1999, my family would get together at Grandma’s house (by 2000 we were living there). In ’99, Dad was freaked out by all the Y2K hoopla and made Mom, Jimmy, and me go to Grandma’s because he didn’t trust the people in our neighborhood not to go on some shooting spree. That year, we watched the ball drop all over the world and went to bed by 12:15. Every year since then, especially once Nicole was old enough to participate, we would stay up and play games.
This holiday season, Dad and I will create our own traditions. This morning, I made pancakes for us (blueberry for him and chocolate chip for me) and later we’ll make a lasagna together. I’m trying to get him to watch Doctor Who with me tonight, but that’s doubtful.
What about you, Dear Readers? What are your favorite holiday traditions? Whatever you’re doing today (or did during Hanukkah), I hope you have a joyous holiday season!