For me the holidays are an amazing time of year. First off, my birthday happens to fall between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, my birthday is 2 weeks to the day before Christmas... my birthday is December 11. When I was little I once told my mom that I was so lucky because I got birthday presents (mainly talking about my toys here), and then two weeks later, I got Christmas presents. I said that I could get bored with my birthday presents and then viola, new toys to play with! (I think I was 5... so give me a break here!) HA! Anyway, I'm changing lanes without signaling here... Back to my topic at hand.
Holiday traditions! That's what I intended to write about today. Holiday traditions. Over the years, our family tradtions have changed. When I was younger, and my grandparents were still alive, we would all go over to my dad's parents' house on Christmas Eve to have dinner. We weren't allowed to go into the living room, because Santa hadn't been there yet. And my parents and grandparents would tell us that all the boxes in the living room were just empty boxes, again because Santa hadn't filled them up yet.
At my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve, my grandmother would make a TON of food (too much food, of course). And we would eat and enjoy time together. Then we would all go home and go to bed.
The next morning, after opening presents at our own home, we would start the journey. We'd start with brunch at my dad's parents' house. Where my grandmother would make an even bigger spread of food than the night before! And she would always use the left over ham, from the night before, and make ham salad. I only ever liked her ham salad. Then one of the adults would sneak outside and ring the doorbell. This was to let us know that Santa had been to their house and filled all our empty boxes. Then my grandfather would start handing out the gifts. He'd usually have myself, my sister or one of my cousins help him. And we would all open our presents. One of my grandmother's best friends used to buy us a new book every Christmas. I read some books I had never even heard of, but am so happy I did, because of her. It was awesome. Usually, when we finished opening presents, my sister and I would start reading our books.
Then, we'd all load up the car, and head over to my great Aunt's house, my grandmother's sister. She usually would rush out of Christmas morning at my grandparents' house to get back to her house. Where she would have even MORE food... and some presents. We would open those presents, eat again, load up the car again... and drive to another house... and another... and another. Well not really, but it felt that way! My dad has said that we did, when I was really young, visit a LOT of people on Christmas day.
Our last stop was my mom's parents' house. Where we would have dinner. My mom's parents were Greek... so we not only had traditional American Christmas foods, but we'd also have Greek foods. And more presents. My dad used to say by the end of the night, the car was so full, his pants were so tight and we were all exhausted! But it was fun.
As I grew older and my grandparents passed away or just weren't able to host Christmas any more, my parents started to host it. We stopped driving all over Chicago on Christmas day... and stayed home. The nice part was that my mom's side of the family and my dad's side of the family could all be together for Christmas dinner. And then we added to the family, as my sister got married, and I got married... and we had kids, and my cousin had kids... But now, my parents no longer own that house (the house that I grew up in). And I'm just too far away to go home for Christmas.
Instead of dreaming of a white Christmas, I dream of a warm Christmas with palm trees. My parents traded in their Mid-western address for one in Florida... and I'm not complaining. We usually go to my parents' house in Florida for Christmas, for now. It is an easy drive from NOLA to their house in FL and we like being together. We now invite my in-laws to spend the holiday with us and my parents.
So what are your holiday traditions?