It is Tuesday and so it must be time for Carole's Ten on Tuesday. Today's topic is 10 favorite holiday traditions.
As an adult I have become somewhat ambivalent about Christmas. I love christmas and I love traditions even more (to the point that I was constantly making up my own as a child to add to those my family already followed). But then my parents got separated shortly before I left for college and that sort of threw me for a loop. I think we all spent that first Christmas together and after that I was usually coming up with one reason or another to avoid coming home for the holiday. I would come home for New Year's but often would be the person to volunteer to work over Christmas or I would plan to travel and there was once a point when it was cheaper and less crowded to travel on Christmas day. I am not sure if my behavior had any effect but around this time my mother started to complain that Christmas had become too commercial and really dialed back any real celebration of the holiday. So we would usually get together for her late December birthday but not do much for Christmas. Then my sister married a man who had converted to an evangelical religion shortly before they were married and they made the decision to raise their children in his church which doesn't recognize any of the religious holidays that I grew up with. So, once my father died, I really didn't have any family to celebrate with and most of my close friends seem to travel for the holiday and I often find I am spending it alone with little to differentiate it from any other day. Maybe if I had grown up going to church more, I would go to services and feel that religious connection but alas, I did not. Despite this, I love Holiday traditions and though I don't always follow through with them every year, they live on in my imaginary life (you know the way you think or wish that you lived that doesn't exactly match the reality of your life?) WIthout further ado...
- Lighting Candles One of my great aunts used to make the most beautiful candles for all of her brothers and sisters. Each one was a work of art often with a theme and a complete scene. My grandmother would share the former year's candle and the tradition was that everyone would light them at the same time (I think it was 5 pm, PST on Christmas Eve) and think of the family who was not there to share the holiday. It brought us all together. I believe it still does although I am not sure anyone else is lighting candles.
- Cookie Saturday which I have talked about here and here. These days it is usually a much smaller affair (or I count bendy girl's party as my Cookie Saturday) but I still try to get an unusual or complicated cookie or two in the month of December.
- Christmas Stockings These have always been one of my favorite things about gift giving. A big sock full of usually unsubstantial gifts but it always held so much promise and excitement. Last year I made one for myself full of wrapped gifts and chocolate as well as the one I made up for my boyfriend (and he added a few things to mine).
- Turtle Candies My dad loved these and so they were always part of our Christmas -- there were a few years that he got the fancy candy shop version with different nuts and they were always larger -- but they were always chocolate and caramel and nuts. I still buy these for myself at this time of year usually just the classic from Nestle (although they weren't the original manufacturer).
- Lasagna This is a splurge I usually save for the holidays. Sometimes I make the one I remember my mother making from the Playboy Gourmet Cookbook and other times I will make a vegetarian version but it is always gooey and cheesy and good.
- Driving Around looking at Christmas Lights One year when I lived in Vermont we did this from the back of a Limousine while drinking champagne and listening to Christmas music. We were all dressed up for Nectar's Christmas Party, and they dropped us off after our foray into the country to look at all the best lights.
- Little White Lights I don't always do a Christmas tree but I love to put up the little white lights and then sit around in just the glow they create.
- Listening to the Christmas Shows on the Big Broadcast with Ed Walker
They are always the same but they take me back to listening with my mom when I was a kid.
- Pistachios I am not sure I have an explanation for this one -- maybe it was stocking filler but I always associate these with Christmas and can remember my mother giving me a bag long past the time she celebrated Christmas much.
- Making new traditions