We live in the Northeast so the scene above isn’t all that unusual for us. The holiday season brings snow and cold weather along with the anticipation of time being spent with family and friends. Year after year we continue the same holiday traditions in our family and look forward to them all through the year.
- Traveling to a tree farm two days after Thanksgiving to pick out and cut down our Christmas tree. The farm provides saws and sleds and three fields to choose the tree. My husband takes far too long to give his final stamp of approval on a tree. The colder it is, the more determined he seems to stay out longer looking over every tree. It is fun despite this and strapping it to the roof of the car, getting it in the house and finally trimming the tree is something the entire family enjoys.
- A photo of my daughters in front of the decorated tree is next. This will go on the holiday cards. I have seen distant relatives whose first comment is that they love the cards and keep them coming. This is not so unusual as I have friends who adorn their cards with pictures of their family. They do tend to take pictures in different places though and include themselves. Our picture is always only the girls and always in front of the tree. Boring you may say; tradition say I.
- All the extended family members come to our house for holiday meals. The extended family comprises anywhere from 18 to 28 people depending on who can come which year. We serve the same meal every year – Prime Rib with all the associated side dishes, appetizers and desserts. I have nobody bring anything and I do all my own dishes. It is family time when they are there and not a day for chores.
- Everybody gets a fleece blanket. We have a rather large sectional with recliners and in the family room, chairs and a love seat. All occupants get blankets for after dinner where they watch football or sit by the fire and fall asleep. It is cozy and definitely tradition.
- This day would not be complete without a game of cribbage. Our front closet is stuffed to the ceiling with board games but yet cribbage is the only game they want to play. Relatives divide into teams and play for hours with laughter ringing out of the dining room where they play.
- The leftovers have to leave. Everybody brings containers and takes every bit of leftovers home. My grandmother used to yell “No leftovers” loudly and in French when I was a kid. I don’t use French but you get the picture. I make way too much food and darned if I am going to eat all of that.
- Our family gives gifts to our service providers. There is the newspaper delivey, the hairdresser, you get the idea. Anybody in a service related field appreciates this more than you know. Most appreciate that you cared enough to do something for them.
- We donate some cash to every person we see ringing a bell next to a red kettle. If they are going to volunteer their time to stand out in the cold ringing a bell to raise money, we are going to help them succeed.
- We talk about how grateful we are in all that we have; we are truly blessed. My children understand you will always find those doing better than you and always find those doing worse. Find somebody doing worse and help them because they could use a lift any time of the year.
- We stop at our local coffee shop and use the drive thru and pay for the person behind us. We find this to be gratifying probably because it is just so random.
- One night we will go to dinner and leave the waitress an oversized tip. The closer to the actual holiday the better. One year we were out-of-town on Christmas Eve and the waitress told us about how her kids were disappointed she had to work. She was a single mother and needed the money. She got an outsized, crazy tip that night.
- My daughters volunteer locally to help where they can throughout the year but pick a holiday event each year and help out. It is usually a community event like a local craft fair.
Some of these traditions cost money and some don’t. The ones that do, we save specifically for and get so much enjoyment out of doing them. The ones that don’t are just as dear to us. They are as big a part of who we are as the cribbage game.