Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions
N. J. Walters

Christmas, more than any other holiday, is steeped in traditions. We all have them in our families. Some are fun and some are more serious. It can be anything from attending church each Christmas Eve to getting new pajamas to wear on the night before Christmas. Traditions vary from family to family and culture to culture. But, whatever they are, they are an important part of the holiday.

Food is a big tradition. I remember several different kinds of cookies, including shortbreads, fudge and snowballs, which were only made once a year. They were a very special treat and one we looked forward to all year long. It seems everyone has large bags of chips in their homes all year round now. But when I was a kid we only saw those at Christmas time. Then there is the turkey dinner with all the trimmings. That was very special. Each family has their food traditions and they help define the holiday.

Parties are also part of what makes the season special. I remember huge holiday parties that my parents gave. My mother would be cooking for several days in advance of the event. There was always a turkey, ham and a roast all cooked to perfection. She’d have a bunch of different salads from potato to fruit, something to please everyone. Christmas cake and cookies were for dessert. There was a banana/apple salad that my mother used to make that I loved and I continue to make every year for Christmas dinner. It’s tradition. :-)

Visiting used to be a much bigger tradition than it is now. I remember there were certain friends we visited on Christmas Eve morning, while there were others we saw every Boxing Day. (That’s the day after Christmas for those of you who don’t celebrate it.) When I was growing up, our house was the one every went to on Christmas Eve. The house was always filled with family and friends. It’s changed now that the family house has been gone for almost twenty years, my father is no longer with us (twenty-eight years now) and my mother has long since remarried. All of us kids are grown with homes of our own. I miss that family unity, that coming together in a place that felt like home to all of us. I’m just glad I had it during my childhood years.

Christmas cards are another tradition that is slowly fading away. The price of postage and the advent of the Internet has almost made this tradtion obsolete. I remember my parents getting well over a hundred cards each year. We’d string them all along the living room walls, put them on the television (the televison was a huge, floor model piece of furniture back in the day), and on the fireplace mantel. I still send cards to a small group of family and friends and try to write notes in them. It’s the only time of year some of us stay in touch.

The wonderful thing about traditions is that they are always changing and evolving. When I was a teenager we barbecued steaks every Christmas Eve. Now I’m a vegetarian but I make chilli every Christmas eve. I also have an open house that day and friends and family come to my and hubby’s apartment. It’s part of keeping a piece of the tradition from my childhood alive.

Whatever your traditions, old and new, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe, spend time with family and friends, eat good food and have fun.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. And if you’re looking for a sexy holiday read, check out Jessamyn’s Christmas Gift, my Ellora’s Cave Christmas Quickie.

N.J. has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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michelle said...

My christmas tradition is we have ham with pineapple and cherries and fruit juice soaked in the ham and very delicious. I make banana bread too for Christmas time. Then we watch a christmas movie and open presents with family and friends.

N.J.Walters said...

That sounds yummy, Michelle. Hubby and I have a lot of favorite holiday movies we watch too. It's fun!

Selena Robins said...

Great blog, NJ!

Being Italian, we have maintained our Christmas tradition, with celebrating with family, and extended family on Christmas Eve. No meat is served, lots of vegetables, pasta and wine of course, and fish dishes and desserts, and we gather around and celebrate well past midnight.

Whatever the tradition, I think being with family, friends, laughing and enjoying each other's company is what people always remember.

Merry Christmas!

Paris said...

Years ago when the kids were small, I held an open house on Christmas day. I served a buffet that reflected our Polish/Italian heritage and there were usually thirty or forty people celebrating in our tiny house. It was the best:-)

N.J.Walters said...

That sounds wonderful, Selena. Being with friends and family is the best part of celebrating. Then, of course, comes the food. lol

N.J.Walters said...

An open house can be a lot of fun, Paris. I loved Christmas eve in our home. Everyone came!