It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the Spin Cycle – I’ve mentally written posts, but never put them to keyboard…boy, with new technology that turn of phrase just doesn’t sound as cool as ‘put pen to paper’ does it?
Because things have been so crazy adjusting to a new schedule since Little Dude arrived, I haven’t had as much computer time as I’m used to, and I’ve felt guilty not having time to visit all my readers and favorites as religiously as I like to – stealing small moments of time just doesn’t seem to cut it.
But since this week’s Spin Cycle is all about ‘traditions’, I remembered that there was a similar theme a couple of years ago – probably when I first started migrating towards the fun that is the Spin Cycle. In fact, I found a post entitled “Spinning Up Some Holiday Traditions” that pretty much locked in what I was mentally writing for this week. Ironically, it was 2 years ago – and almost exactly to the day.
So I decided to dust it off and recycle it – change it up and shorten it a bit so it’ll feel like a fresh read for those of you who might have read it back then.
Originally posted on 9/30/2009 (edited and redacted):
This weekend will be the weekend I pull out the fall decorations and go crazy. Weather permitting, of course – it’s not as fun to decorate in the rain.
Since I don’t traditionally decorate for Halloween with ghosts and goblins and ghouls and witches, I keep the decorations pretty generic with a ‘fall’ theme. Sure I have scarecrows and pumpkins included, but not the scary kind. That way I’m covered not only for Halloween but for Thanksgiving, too. Though Princess Nagger would probably like to see some scary décor go up this year.
My original tradition for Christmas decorating was to wait until the first Saturday after December 9th (since that happens to be my birthday), go out and get a live Christmas tree, and do all my Christmas decorating. I didn’t want my birthday celebration ‘muddied’ by the influx of Christmas decor – after all, you get bombarded with Christmas earlier and earlier each year, and with my birthday a mere two weeks from Christmas I ended up getting gypped with the old “This is your birthday and Christmas present!” routine. Christmas was not going to invade my birthday. Not on my watch.
And then I grew up.
Or, I realized that I was spending a lot of time and effort decking the halls for Christmas, only to have to yank it all down two weeks later.
That’s a lot of work for a short two-week period of time. So I started a new tradition – Christmas decorating over Thanksgiving weekend. That way I have a nice, long weekend to get all my fall decorations taken down and the overabundance of Christmas decorations put up. Quite frankly once I changed that tradition, it seemed to make my birthday even more festive. Go figure.
One of the very important traditions of Christmas growing up was that we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. In Swedish tradition, Christmas Eve is the height of the festivities. Traditionally it is a day when “no work should be done other than seeing to one’s livestock.” This is the day of the Christmas feast, which comprises a smörgåsbord including a few traditional dishes such as ham, jellied pigs feet, lutfisk and rice porridge.
Thankfully my mom didn’t include the jellied pigs feet in our Christmas Eve smörgåsbord. Pickled herring, though, was a different story.
We’d have a huge Christmas dinner, play games, enjoy family, and yes, open our presents on Christmas Eve. It was my Swedish Great-Grandmother’s tradition, passed down. We would, of course, wake up Christmas morning and excitedly go see what Santa left us overnight.
You see, the gifts we opened on Christmas Eve were the boring (in kid terminology) ones – the ones from parents and grandparents. The pajamas and socks and wildly knit sweaters we would put on only for a picture and quickly shove into the back of the dresser or closet, conveniently forgetting about them.
But Christmas morning was always the exciting morning – because that’s when we’d get the cool gifts from Santa. Those were fun Christmases, and my parents did a great job keeping the magic alive for us when we were kids. I don’t remember how old I was when we decided that Santa really wasn’t ‘all that’ and we stopped getting Santa gifts on Christmas morning. But we still celebrated on Christmas Eve anyway.
It was tradition.
One year my dad suggested we do what ‘normal’ people do and open one gift on Christmas Eve and save the rest for the next morning. We reluctantly agreed (not that we really had any say in the matter) and each opened one gift Christmas Eve. Christmas morning we took turns opening our gifts – but for some reason the ‘magic’ didn’t seem to be as prominent. Maybe because Santa was no longer bringing the magic. We cleaned up the wrapping paper mess and went about our day.
It didn’t feel right. It felt like a regular, ordinary day. With gifts.
We went back to our Christmas Eve tradition the following year and never deterred from it again. We decided that doing what our Great-Grandmother had passed down to us was worth keeping the magic alive. We figured out that the reason waiting until Christmas Day to celebrate didn’t feel right was because it was only one day. Celebrating on Christmas Eve, it was extended to two days.
I’ve had fun with Princess Nagger and the tradition of having her write letters to Santa each year – and having her get one from Santa in return. Complete with Reindeer food. I’m looking forward to involving Little Dude in that tradition this year, too.
Even though Santa gets to take all the credit for the ‘cool’ gifts, it’s seeing the excitement on Christmas morning like this that makes it worth it:
We can’t forget about the tradition of the Advent Calendar – since Swedish Christmas celebrating starts on the first Sunday of Advent, Princess Nagger starts her Advent Calendar. She has a basic one that just marks off the days before Christmas, and I always make sure I get her one of those chocolate advent calendars…so she can have a piece of chocolate every day during Advent.
I also get one for myself and one for my hubby – so we can each have a piece of chocolate a day, too. It’s a tradition.
What are your Traditions?
This Traditional Spin Cycle was brought to you in part by Jen, who celebrates Rosh HaShana today, keeping her childhood traditions alive as Sprite’s Keeper. Check out the other Spinners – see what kind of traditions others have – you’ll probably find they’re the same as yours.