December 6, 2008

My Christmas Quirks

Emily at One is Not So Lonely tagged me to list six holiday quirks, which would have been a lot harder to think of before I finally got into the Christmas spirit this morning with Bradley and Blue. All I needed to do was crank up the holiday tunes, put up the tree and unbox our ornament collection - it's always a walk down memory lane. Now I have plenty of holiday traditions to share with y'all:

Six Random "Holiday Facts" About Anne:

1. There is a definite ornament hierarchy on my tree. My favorite and more memorable ornaments are gingerly placed at the top. Pretty but slightly less meaningful ornaments stay in the middle of our tree. Less valuable and more Blue-friendly ornaments are hung towards the bottom.

My very favorite ornament is a beautiful Clara ballerina I got after a performance of the Nutcracker in elementary school. She's always the first ornament to go up and the last to come down, still kept in her original box. When we got engaged, Mom and Dad sent us up a number of family ornaments "on loan" until we could put together our own collection. Clara, however, is one that will be staying with me!

2. My mom makes an amazing hot holiday punch every year that makes the whole house smell like Christmas. I always try a batch or two a year myself, if just for the scent of it. It tastes delicious, but mine is never quite the same as hers. Mom's perfect proportions of apple cider, cranberry juice, orange juice, cloves and cinnamon make all the difference.

3. Christmas Eve candlelight service is my favorite of the year. The hymns and carols, the candles, the completion of the Advent story, the Scriptures read, the excitement of everyone. When I was old enough to hold my own candle, I knew I'd really grown up.

Because we travel and aren't at my home church each year, I don't always get to attend. If I had my way, though, we'd be in that pew every year. Such a meaningful service to me.

4. Growing up, my family read the Christmas story out of Luke every Christmas Eve before we went to bed. I loved how quiet everything was, that no one in the world seemed to be out doing anything else but spending time with their families. I always remember Dad's voice reading it, but when we got older he would ask us to read as well. It felt like such an honor!

After we read the story, which we could probably recite by heart, we would place baby Jesus into the nativity scene our family had made. My brother and I rotated who got to put the figure in the nativity scene (of course) to keep it fair. Another small tradition that felt like such an honor as a child.

It was really important to me, too, that Jesus not be in the nativity scene until Christmas Eve. I mean, isn't He what everyone was waiting for? It didn't make sense to see him in there the day after Thanksgiving. So our family's wise men, angels, animals, Mary and Joseph were gazing at hay until Christmas Eve.

5. After some creative lobbying from my brother and me, we were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. And it was always pajamas. Brand new pjs wear on Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning, we had a very specific routine my parents created to prevent 5am chaos. We couldn't come out of our rooms and go downstairs, where our tree and presents were, until 7am. Even then, my brother and I had to make our beds, brush our teeth and put our robes on before we came down together.

That drove my brother crazy when I got old enough to want to fix my hair before Christmas morning photos. Poor kid. I can't decide if my parents were trying to prevent wide-open kid craziness or just torture us a little bit.

The Christmas pjs did come in handy, though, as I always had cute candy canes or Merry Christmas in six languages written across my new Christmas morning outfit. Just in time for a photo op.

A few years ago my mom handed me my Christmas Eve gift and, as I was about to open the box, snatched it away in a panic. I guess her system for subtly labeling gifts isn't entirely fool-proof. :) She handed me another box and held her breath that it was, in fact, the correct Christmas Eve present. It all worked out the second time around and I still have the flannel snowflake pj pants to prove it.

6. In our first Christmas together as Mr. and Mrs., Bradley and I decided to start a tradition of our own. We're fortunate enough to have both sets of parents within driving distance, so we decided to have time with just the two of us on Christmas morning.

We spend Christmas Eve with one family, have time Christmas morning to exchange our gifts for each other, then drive to the other family's house for Christmas day. It worked perfectly in 2007 and I'm excited to do it again this year. Why wait 'til you have children to have "family time" on Christmas Day? Bradley, Blue and I have a fun mini family Christmas and then get to spend time with the bigger group - it's perfect.

I'd love to hear your favorite Christmas traditions! Feel free to share. And I'm tagging Kristen, Elizabeth and Ashley.


Alex said...

I want to share our Christmas tradition! My family is Greek Orthodox, so we have our Christmas service on Christmas Eve. It ends at about 9:30 at night. So after church, Dan and I go out to a late dinner together (usually sushi!) and then drive around neighborhoods looking for the goofiest Griswald-esque Christmas lights we can find.

Now that we have Eli, we might have to adapt this tradition by nixing the dinner out and doing the Christmas light hunt early another evening before Christmas .. but that's OK with me!

Katherine said...

My mom always let me open one gift on Christmas Eve too and mine was ALWAYS pj's! That's too funny! And we've also had the occasional gift mishap where she forgot which one was the pjs!

Darci White said...

love your traditions (both new and old) - how awesome to read the christmas story together as a family. great idea.

and, about the pink boots - they are by anderson bean & are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

here's a link that shows a lot of them:

The Gaymons said...

Such fun Christmas quirks! You can count on me to list a pretty similar list to yours. I'm on it!

Whitney said...

Found your blog from Mrs. Stiletto's! Such a fun little survey!
That punch sounds so good!

Sweet Simplicity said...

You have some great Christmas traditions. I love that you don't want baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas day. Thats so cute and sweet!


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