Recently at an impromptu office holiday pizza party to celebrate the last day of work before the holiday, the topic of holiday traditions came up. When I was asked what my family did, I froze a little. Do we have traditions? Did we have traditions growing up?
Growing up my Christmas dissolved a little to instead of buying a holiday tree, we cut down part of an evergreen bush or shrub on the property…they never did grow back right. Then instead of a Christmas tree, we started decorating my dad’s six foot tall lemon tree in our living room (I grew up in Jersey not Florida, so the tree lived in the house). Lemon trees have thorns in case you didn’t know. You can get the picture. Then it was up to my Aunt’s for Christmas dinner with my dad’s family. The Christmas meal would feature ham, turkey, ravioli, and Hungarian desserts like poppyseed roll. Turns out that poppyseed roll is a traditional Hungarian Christmas treat.
When I met my husband, we split the holiday with Christmas Eve with his family and Christmas Day with mine. Christmas Eve was interesting because they did something called the seven fishes. The meal would feature seven dishes featuring different seafood items like shrimp, clams, even anchovies. His stepfather’s mother was fresh off the boat Italian. So there were also things like lasagna made with sauce that took all day to cook.
Food seems to be central to my memories of Christmas, huh? Once we were married and living away from extended family, I decided to keep some of this. On Christmas Eve, we do seafood. Though with only three of us, I don’t do seven different types. I was afraid that this year would be devoid of most of our staples since I had not made it to the store, but Aldi came through for us. I cleared them out on what they had left of their lobster and snow crab in the freezer section. I also picked up shrimp and sea scallops. Honestly, while I want to make more, I don’t think we would be able to eat it all…four fishes is enough, right? Christmas Day will also have ham and possibly a pasta dish. I haven’t decided yet. I am also making a Mint Chocolate Chip Cake for dessert. We are skipping making cookies since we have a care package coming from my mother-in-law filled with homemade cookies. I also bought a Hungarian Poppyseed Roll (Amazon for the win!).
While we might not be carrying across family traditions passed down through the generations, we do have new traditions. A new one is finding a Christmas themed flamingo decoration for my father-in-law. It is a running joke between my son and his pop-pop…I don’t even remember how it started. We also watch a holiday movie together as a family. This year was Kurt Russell’s The Christmas Chronicles. Last year was that version of A Christmas Carol that features Obi-Won Kenobi ( I mean Alec Guinness) as the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge. The year before that was The Nightmare Before Christmas. We also go to the movies on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We have tickets to go see Aquaman this year. I think last year was one of the Star Wars movies.
The point here is that you shouldn’t stress yourself out trying to make Christmas perfect. You shouldn’t worry about having the right gift or even the right food. If it is meant to be, then it will all come together. The important thing is that the holidays be focused on spending time with the ones you love. Do the things you want…make new traditions.
Has your family made any new traditions? Post a note in the comments to keep the conversation going. Happy Holidays!