Monday, December 12, 2011

How to start traditions

I love traditions.  Holiday traditions, daily traditions, all of it.  I love watching the traditions in my little family evolve.  I love taking a little bit of Charlie's traditions and a little bit of my traditions and making our own.  This time of year I find myself struggling because I want the "perfect" traditions for my little family.  Patience.  I need patience to watch my family grow.  I realized a few years ago that we do have our own holiday traditions.  We used to celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve before we went to Charlie's parents for Christmas eve/day.  We celebrate my family on Dec. 26.  We always went to the same pizza place on Dec. 23.  We decorate cookies in December.  Weather permitting, we go to the Christmas parade Thanksgiving weekend.  We spend an evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. 

This is our second year of doing Christmas Eve and Day at our house.  I want everything to be "perfect".  I pride myself that my "perfect" is imperfection. A little kooky.  Right now, we have 4 totally different stockings on the mantle.  One really nice one for Calvin that my MIL made.  The one I had as a baby that was replaced when my brother was born so we could have matching ones.  One I randomly found for Charlie.  And a cheap 97 cent one for Laci that I bought her first Christmas with the plans to replace it when a sibling came to match.  Laci was concerned the other day that Daddy's and her stocking's don't have their names on it.  How will Santa know which is which?  So she wrote her name with a gold pen on the stocking.  I love the imperfect unmatching stockings.  My MIL made us all matching ones over the years that I could probably ask for but I would rather keep the kooky ones.  

I decided at the store the other day that I am going to have the kids pick out one new Christmas Cookie Cutter every year.  Last year, I borrowed a friends cookie cutter and the only ones I have is a Christmas tree and a Gingerbread Man.  Laci picked out a Gingerbread House cookie cutter this year.  The cookie cutter tradition may be in lieu of the new ornaments that some people pick out each year.  

The part that I am struggling with now is the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.  Growing up, our tradition was KFC before going to church Christmas eve.  We always got to open one present before church.  We spent days picking out the perfect gift to open.  But we usually had to check with our mom because she often wanted us to open a new skirt or tie to wear to church that night.  The kids all slept in one room Christmas night and then woke up super early to presents from Santa.  They were never wrapped and we could start playing right away.  Then we all started helping with the big Christmas meal - Turkey, broccoli corn bake, crescent rolls, relish tray, lemonade, jello salad, etc.  Later that night, we watched a movie, played and ate turkey sandwiches.  Charlie's family has Chicken Velvet soup for Christmas Eve dinner.  Lately, we have had it when we got home from church.  Christmas morning, they opened stockings, then had a nice Christmas breakfast of egg/sausage casserole and winter fruit compote before exchanging gifts.  Their big Christmas meal was later in the day - beef tenderloin, asparagus, salad and always ending with peppermint ice cream pie.  I am not sure how they did it as children but that is Christmas since I have been a part of the family.

Last year, we had Christmas with his family on Christmas Eve.  We celebrated "Christmas" that morning and exchanged gifts.  Then his cousin and his family came over along with Charlie's grandparents for a nice Christmas Eve lunch.  We had done this with them the last several years.  We left by 3 in time to get home to start our own thing, not knowing what our own thing will be.  We ended up with Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Hmm, maybe that could be our Christmas Eve dinner.  KFC was good enough for me growing up.  :)  Or should we do something fancier like Chicken Velvet soup?   We had a nice lunch and then frozen pizza for dinner.  I loved the simplicity and ordinariness of frozen pizza after a fancy Christmas dinner.  We haven't been to church for the last several Christmas Eves due to weather, tiny children, etc.  I never though in a million years I would ever not attend a Christmas Eve church service but life happens.  I hope we can get back to that this year.  

This year, our Christmas Eve plans are supposed to be the same with Charlie's cousin and aunt.  His grandparents aren't doing well so we were hoping to all visit them in their nursing home Christmas Eve Eve.  But things change in an instant.  Last week, my FIL had a really bad accident and hurt his leg.  He has been in and out of the hospital this past week and they aren't sure how he will be by next week.  The family Christmas plans are on hold.  I want to make it my mission to save Christmas for my MIL.  She loves "perfection".  She loves things to match, to be formal, to just be "perfect".  It is the complete opposite of me.  I told Charlie that I will do whatever I can to make sure she had her "perfect" Christmas and that my FIL is feeling better.  

I still don't have a Christmas dinner menu in mind for my family.  But I want one thing - to eat on our good china. You know, the dishes that sits in the china cabinet all year and are never used.  The menu may be very simple and ordinary.  I have small, picky children.  I am a simple cook.  It might be beef tenderloin.  It might be turkey.  It might be a pot roast.  I would love to hear other people's traditions when it comes to dinners.  But by golly, we are having a nice Christmas Day Dinner on our good china, wine glasses with candles!  With frozen pizza for supper.

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