Holiday Traditions And Memories

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It’s holiday season and I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately. I am pretty sure there is nothing that I remember better from my past than great holidays. Now this means a lot as I have a terrible memory and don’t remember much from the past years. But for as long as I can remember, I have always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas the most of any of the holidays. Yes, I even love them more than Valentines day which is also my birthday {maybe that’s why I can’t stand that holiday 😉 }.

For me it’s not about getting presents or the shopping deals. It’s about FAMILY! And food is an added bonus! I honestly couldn’t care less if I did not receive a single gift for Christmas, in fact I’d be pleased because to me that really doesn’t matter. However, I really enjoy giving gifts to others. The only part with this that I struggle with is finding the right gift. Often I like doing homemade gifts personalized for who it’s going to. Or finding something with meaning behind it for that person. Or I choose something I know they want or need. Giving gifts is my favorite! I wish I had endless budget to give many gifts to everyone.

Another part I love is the food! Whether it is Christmas or Thanksgiving I love the food! Stuffing is delicious! Pie is amazing! And boy do I love turkey (or roast)! I also love making sweets for the holidays. This year I plan to make caramels and peppermint bark. YUM! I have this amazing recipe for cranberry sauce {which is something I never used to like or eat} and I can’t wait to make and share it with my family. I also got this delicious cheeseball recipe from a friend that I only make during this time of year and plan to make as an appetizer for us to snack on while making Thanksgiving dinner. -Drool- After months of many pregnancy aversions, I am looking forward to eating and eating and eating!

I also love the timeline of what holidays bring. Thanksgiving allows us to focus on the many blessings we have. Christmas is about where those blessings come from, spending time with those we love, and giving to others because we have been given much ourselves. Then follows New Years with a renewal to make ourselves even better and start fresh with a clean year ahead of us to make the most out of it. It is such a wonderful time to reflect on things and look inward instead of comparing and wanting more and more..

My favorite part of the holidays has always been the time with family. For thanksgiving and Christmas Eve we would get our big family (on my mom’s side) together for a delicious meal, presents (Christmas), and fun! There was nothing more wonderful than spending time with my cousins running around having a ball! I even loved how some uncles would “pick” on us because I loved spending time with them. I loved that no matter what gifts were brought, just being with my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, and parents was the best part of these holidays. It was my favorite tradition!

When I graduated high school and moved to college it seemed like things shifted. It became harder to get home for each Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom and stepdad moved to Missouri, one sister was in Washington along with aunts, uncles, cousins, and dad & stepmom, and another sister was in Idaho. We were no longer within the same state as each other. Each sister had their own family and many of my cousins were building their own families as well. Due to time and budgets my traveling became limited for the holidays. There were times I was able to visit my parents or sisters for one holiday or another in a year but sometimes I spent the holidays alone. I don’t bring this up for pity or as a “poor me” because I know many spend every holiday on their own as well. But I bring it up to explain how without family, a little bit of the spirit and fun of the holidays was lost for me.

This year is the start of new traditions as I have a family of my own as well. Thanksgiving my parents will be visiting and I plan to make it wonderful! {While I know this may not be a “tradition” every year as that would be selfish, I am looking forward to them being here with us this year!} I cannot wait to cook for days to make that delicious meal and enjoy endless leftover turkey sandwiches the following days! Christmas will be spent with my husband and I hope that I can make that special as well and start our own traditions and special memories. I know as we start our family that responsibility [and reward] falls to us. And I welcome that. I look forward to that!

I will always miss and think back on those special holiday get togethers with the huge family but I know that times change and family dynamics shifts. It just opens up to the opportunity for creating new memories and traditions and making it special for our children, nephews, nieces, etc.

I love the magic of the holidays! I love the lights. The colors. The mystery. And just the feel that comes with these holidays. I don’t know what it is that makes this time of year feel so different from the rest of the year but it is a wonderful feeling. I hope that even as the world changes with Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving day, focus switched from the birth of Christ to shopping, and the materialism that has tried to take over these holidays that we can still create that special feeling.

I mentioned my favorite tradition of these holidays – the family get togethers for Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve – but I want to mention some more traditions I remember that my family did and some memories I have. As far as I can remember we would decorate the day after Thanksgiving! It became an all day process of finding the tree (I don’t ever remember having an artificial tree), putting up lights outside (me assisting down on the ground), and pulling out the house decorations and tree decor. Growing up my sisters and I had our own ornaments put on the tree. Eventually, we “upgraded” to having a color coordinating tree with glass ornaments and special lights. I remember our angel that sat atop the tree and I wanted to have one on my tree when I grew up {I did make an angel of my own and love it}.

We would open presents Christmas morning then have a huge breakfast!  When we were younger we often spent Christmas Eve with my mom and her family and would go to my dad’s on Christmas day (after opening gifts with my mom) and stay for a few days.

I also loved making sugar cookies complete with cookie cutter shapes and frosting! I remember I made sure to leave some of these cookies for Santa and the reindeer shaped ones for his reindeer! Never did I think reindeer don’t eat cookies and even if they did, why would they want to eat ones of themselves? But in my mind, I thought it was fitting – like having a name on a gift knowing who it belonged to. I would love to continue this tradition with my children, what kids don’t enjoy making (and eating) cookies? 😉

I remember one Christmas when Santa came to our back door on Christmas Eve and brought me the Barbie that I wanted so bad! If I remember correctly, I was a little frightened to get close to him but was so enthralled that he was here!

Another Christmas, my sisters and I believed that we heard Santa on the roof! Not even kidding! We heard heavy footsteps and reindeer bells! It was so amazing! Now I know some people believe it is wrong to tell kids of Santa but I don’t really understand that. I think there’s an appropriate way to handle this. I don’t think it makes them expect Santa to bring endless gifts and get spoiled or that it is about lying to your kids, as some people say. I think it fosters that magic and mystery to Christmas that is important and fun for children. I also believe that there is a sensitive way to handle the situation when those children that believe in Santa are told that he doesn’t exist, that explains to your children without ruining trust or the magic. It’s not about “Santa” per say but about the spirit and magic of Christmas.

Once, when I was younger and we had a rough Christmas, I believed that Santa brought us presents and such to have a special holiday but found out later that it was family that provided this. It didn’t change how I felt about Christmas but it made it even more special when I found out how these family members when out of their way to make this day special for some little girls and took no credit of their own for it because they knew, at that time, it was important that Santa be the one who created it.

There are many traditions I’d love to continue and start for my family and I look forward to creating special memories for my little ones and watch them experience Christmas. However, I will also teach them the meaning of Christmas [because I think that is most important]..and in case you didn’t know, it’s not about shopping! 😉

Because I brought it up, I want to express something that has been bothering me. I just want to add how disturbing it is to me that Black Friday has become more important than the holiday it followed to where it has now begun ON Thanksgiving evening. Everyone has their own right to shop if they please, but I feel bad for those forced to work instead of having a day with their families. I also find it sad that people can’t even spend one full day with their families or just taking a break and will be shopping on that day. It was one thing when stores were opening at midnight but to open on the evening of Thanksgiving goes too far, in my opinion. I only wonder how it will continue to progress in years to come where it may start early Thanksgiving morning and continues throughout the day.. I hope it never comes to this but I could see it happening. :/

{NOTE}: I do not mean to pass judgement on those who will go shopping or work or create these shopping times. As I said, everyone has their choice to do such. It just makes me sad that (my favorite) holidays are being replaced by the shopping and deals of this time of year. This is only me sharing my opinion.

On a happier tone, I hope you all enjoy your holidays and get to find “magic” however you decide to spend them. And remember the meaning behind each of these days (or any holiday you celebrate during this time. I only speak of Thanksgiving and Christmas because that is what I celebrate).

I love hearing what other families do for the holidays — What traditions do you have in your family or that you want to start for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas (or other holidays you celebrate)?

What are your favorite parts of the holidays?

What foods do you have on the table for Thanksgiving?

3 thoughts on “Holiday Traditions And Memories

  1. Pingback: The Santa Dance | The Gifting Whisperer

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  3. brunimar48

    I did enjoy your story. Thanksgiving is the start of what I call the magic season. I love to spend time with my family and I cook a lot for them. We all enjoy talking and eating but I feel the same way about how the reatilers stores has been dominating the holidays. Very Sad. I can’t wait to start my decoration for christmas tomorrow and already thinking what I’m cooking for my wonderful family. Enjoy everyday and enjoy every moment with your family.

    Reply

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