I’d like to pen something super-serious and politically relevant, but I don’t have the attention span at the moment. So instead, I’ll just ask you all to describe your holiday traditions this time of year. What, if anything, do you do? Songs, movies, decorations, presents, family, food, rituals… what do the holidays entail for you? Anything you can think of. Any culture, any religion, any background, any upbringing, or any lack thereof. Tell me about it!
Honestly, I’m a big stick in the mud. Or a Scrooge, or whatever you want to call it. I am not that fond of the holidays, and if I had my way, I would not be “celebrating” Christmas with family or gifts at all. However, I come from a devoutly Christian conservative southern household, and my family takes Christmas pretty seriously.
It’s not that they do that many things. But the things they do, they do a LOT of.
Tons of Christmas music floating throughout the house during evening waking hours. (Can I go on record here saying that I cannot stand most Christmas music?) Plenty of decorations. All your standard stuff: wreaths, garlands, bows, tree (massive and real with way too many lights and ornaments), nutcrackers, knickknacks, angels, candles. My brother had a huge obsession with nutcrackers for several years, so he has at least 20 of them, which he strategically arranges on the mantle above the fireplace. The only somewhat garish decoration my parents put up is the life-sized angel made of Christmas lights (only white ones, of course!), and the ghastly, blinding floodlight my father uses to illuminate it against the front of the house. The other odd decoration we have is a large Father Christmas figure (about 1 1/2 feet tall, with a beard nearly as long). It is altogether unremarkable, except for the real-life cigarette butt my brother sticks in his mouth. He did it with one of my grandfather’s cigarettes as a kid, and a lot of people laughed… so he still sneaks in and does it every year. (It’s also part of the tradition to just shake our heads and leave it be.)
Our Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation. It’s ridiculous, but we’ve been watching it every year in my memory, so I do feel a fondness for it. The Night Before Christmas is read by someone before bedtime on Christmas eve, and this has lost most of its luster since we no longer have any children in the family.
Christmas dinner has become less traditional. We used to do all the usual foods, but now we kinda wing it. One year recently we did sort of a seafood buffet thing, and that was probably my favorite holiday meal ever. No clue what we’re doing this year.
We open gifts with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas eve — one at a time, so that everyone can see what everyone else got. This used to be a big deal, with a lot of pictures being taken and hugs between gifts… but most of my family has died off, so it’s rather muted now. On Christmas day we open gifts with my dad’s side of the family. This was always kind of chaotic, with everyone ripping into their presents simultaneously and “thank you, so-and-so’s” shouted from across the room. It’s less disorganized now that there are fewer people involved.
I’ll be dragged to church by my parents. Well, not dragged — I go willingly as a “Christmas gift” to my father. We have always gone to either a Christmas eve or Christmas day service. (Never both, thankfully.)
So that’s kinda what my family does, in a nutshell. It’s a much smaller family than the one in which I grew up. There aren’t very many of us left. Most of the older generation(s) have passed away. There are no kids. Some folks didn’t have children, some folks don’t plan to have children, and some folks just don’t have children yet. (I’m hoping for lots of nieces and nephews from my kid brother!) Frankly, the holidays make me sad now that most of my family has died and many of our friends moved out of town. I can’t say I much look forward to it. I appreciate the family I have, but many of the most special things about Christmas that I remember from childhood are… long gone. Ah well. The Christmas tree still smells good. 😉
So anyhow, what do you guys traditionally do — or traditionally not do — this time of year?