Alright. The moment of truth has arrived. The giveaway winner is…
Mary Lynn Derstine
Congrats, Mary! I sent you an email and haven’t heard back from you yet, so check your inbox!
Now, on to the bulk of this post. Last year, a reader suggested that I write about my favorite Christmas traditions.
My family isn’t really the type to intentionally craft a meaningful collection of Christmas traditions. I mean, we buy each other gifts and open them on Christmas morning as, I assume, most families do. Although as time goes on, we’ve shifted that “Christmas morning” around to accommodate various family members. Last year we celebrated on January 5. This year it’ll be December 30.
Nevertheless there are some random things we’ve done so often they’ve become traditions. And also one very intentional, very unique tradition, which I’ll talk about first.
Tradition 1: Gotcha Day
On December 24, 2004, my family drove up to the Portland Airport. We walked inside and waited, standing expectantly on the famous teal carpet, waiting for our new brother to arrive.
And then we saw him, coming with my dad down the hallway. We were now a family of eight instead of seven.
Ever since that day, my family has celebrated Christmas Eve as “gotcha day.” We cook traditional Kenyan foods: chapatis and ugali and sukuma and chicken gravy and pineapple and Kenyan chai tea and soda in glass bottles. We spread a bright leso on the table, and decorate with carved animals we brought back with us when my family was in Kenya.
And then we sit around talking about how amazing Steven is, and how glad we are that he’s in our family, and stuff.
Tradition 2: Festive Pancakes
Growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but she didn’t often cook breakfast. We usually made our own breakfasts. But my dad rather enjoyed cooking breakfast foods. Particularly pancakes. So if there ever was an occasion to make breakfast, my dad often did it.
I think this is where the pancakes-on-Christmas-morning thing came from. Someone needs to cook breakfast on Christmas morning, right? So dad would make pancakes.
And not just any pancakes. Fancy pancakes. Pancakes shaped like turtles. Pancakes colored with red food coloring. Pancakes colored with green food coloring. Blueberry pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes. All the pancakes.
Tradition 3: Complaining about the Christmas Stockings
I’m trying to remember where the Christmas stocking thing even started. Originally, we just gave presents and didn’t bother with stockings. But at some point I bought a red velvet stocking at a garage sale. And then Amy traced around it and made her own flimsy cotton stocking. And Ben got a cheap felt stocking from someone…a Sunday school teacher maybe? His name was etched on it in red fabric paint.
So, since we had this meager collection, sometimes we’d hang up Christmas stockings. But we never bothered to collect a decent set.
Sometimes we’d supplement our collection with real socks. At one point, we took the stocking that had “Ben” fabric painted on one side, and painted “Jenny” on the other side. I don’t remember why. And one year, someone bought a stocking for the dog at Dollar Tree. And then the dog died, and we started using the stocking for humans. Even though it was covered in little green paw prints, it was the least pathetic-looking of the bunch.
Somewhere, somehow, we acquired these decorative fabric bags that were supposed to hold wine bottles. I don’t know how or why…we don’t even drink wine. But we started using these wine bags as extra stockings to fill in the gaps of our collection.
For some reason we’ve never bothered to purchase or make nice stockings. Instead, this is our tradition: every year we pull out our terrible collection of stockings and mock it mercilessly.
But Mom whipped up this really cute Christmas stocking the other day, so that particular tradition may be on its way out.
Tradition 4: Going to the Coast
For the past…I don’t know…five-ish years? We’ve started a new tradition: We go to the coast every Christmas. We rent a house and just hang out oceanside for several days.
Sometimes we bring our presents along and exchange them in our beach house. But that’s a lot of work, so this year we’re having “Christmas Morning” at home, before heading out to the coast in the afternoon.
Again, I’m not sure how this tradition started. I guess as my siblings started leaving home, we wanted to do something a little more special when we all came home for Christmas. So the coast it was.
Oh, I just remembered. We went to the coast in 2011/2012. So maybe it’s been eight years? Wow!
Anyway. It’s a tradition that’s developed during my adulthood, not my childhood.
So there you have it! My favorite Christmas traditions. And by “favorite” I mean “the only ones I could think of.” But I like them all, so it works.
Come back tomorrow for Day 6 of Blogmas. We’re almost halfway through the entire 12 Days of Blogmas challenge!