Reflecting on Christmas Traditions

Looky here – the world didn’t come to an end.  At least at the typing of this post it hasn’t, so if you’re reading this, that means you’re safe.  And parties and plans for this holiday season are still going on as scheduled.  Princess Nagger will be very happy to hear that, since she’s been admiring the wrapped gifts under the tree, and as Christmas approaches at lightning speed, her excitement level rises exponentially.

Because it’s such a busy time of year, I’m recycling a recycled post from deep in the archives – with content edited to bring it current, and pictures added to jazz it up more.  So if it sounds vaguely familiar, you’ll know why.  Plus it seems the perfect time to talk about Traditions.

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 before 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.

Christmas Tree 2009

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 a few weeks later.

FrontPorchChristmas

That’s a lot of work for a short 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, with one ‘extra’ gift to look forward to on Christmas morning – Santa or no Santa.

It was tradition.

One year my dad suggested we do what ‘normal’ people do and open only 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 – the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas. 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 simply 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.  And leftovers from our Christmas Eve dinner.  But mostly just an ordinary day.

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.  This is Little Dude’s second year in that tradition, and he’s caught up in the wonderful magic of it all.  Especially when every so often I’ll show them ‘proof’ that Santa exists – if I can keep them believing in the magic for a while longer, the effort is well worth it:

Santa2008

Even though Santa gets to take all the credit for the ‘cool’ gifts, seeing the excitement on Christmas morning like this also makes it worth it:

PNChristmas2009

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.

Which brings me to this weeks question:

What are your traditions?  If you celebrate Christmas, do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, or save it for Christmas Morning?

 

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas – or whatever holiday you might be celebrating during this time.


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Kailani’s had her plate full and hasn’t had the linky up the last couple of weeks for Aloha Friday, so I’m bringing back Friday Free For All I used to have available for you – link up if you’re participating in Aloha Friday or the Spin Cycle – or neither… just link up so I can easily come pay you a visit:
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Happy Aloha Friday!

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From Kailani at An Island Life:
In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So on Fridays let’s take it easy on posting, too. Ask a simple question…nothing that requires a lengthy response. It’s a great way to make new blogging friends!

 

More Friday Follow Fun:

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Feed Me FridayfriendandfollowChubby Cheeks ThinksLet Them Eat CakeBericeBabybloghopbutton

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I’m also joining Barb from Frugal (Local) Kitchen with her Christmas Open House Linky Party:
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9 thoughts on “Reflecting on Christmas Traditions

  1. Your linky isn’t working my friend! I’ll be back tomorrow morning though, and we always open presents Christmas morning hubby & I. His family comes over Christmas Eve cuz it’s my house this year. Next year it’s at hubby’s sister’s house & then back & forth. Chinese food & presents. :) I have our real Christmas with the kids the weekend after Christmas so they can stay all day & not have to run off to their in-laws. I’m greedy that way! :) Have a great weekend. Love your pics!!!!
    Xmasdolly would like you to read…Flashback Friendship Uncorked Aloha Friday!My Profile

  2. Every Christmas morning we wake up & check our presents…then we have a huge Christmas breakfast that has been the same for as long as I can remember. We eat ham & cheese strada with tomatoes…yum! It reminds me of Christmas as a kid with my parents, cousins, grandparents, etc. Such wonderful memories!
    Jessica would like you to read…26 Acts of Kindness-A few more!My Profile

  3. I love the pictures, and like you I don’t mind giving Santa credit (the picture you have w/Santa by the tree is AWESOME!).

    We used to open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day, but now to save the day from being too frantic we open everything on Christmas Eve and the kids wake up to Santa’s (big gift) on Christmas day.

    Merry Christmas!
    Rosey would like you to read…Thyme Maternity LaunchMy Profile

  4. Our tradition changed each year (maybe it wasn’t a “tradition”, lol) because my hubby and I both worked shift work so we had a lovely Christmas whenever we were all able to be together:)

    Merry Christmas, my Friend
    Evelyn would like you to read…Merry ChristmasMy Profile

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