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Thread: Christmas AM Traditions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Christmas AM Traditions

    Growing up, before heading to the tree my mom and dad would always make us stay in the kitchen to have a glass of orange juice and break the wishbone. We'd open presnets, then go to my grandma's later that night. Now that I'm older, with the kiddo switching holidays between mine and her dads house, my bf's sons schedule with his mom, and traveling (out of town) between families for the holidays, it makes it tough to settle down into traditions. I'm ok with it and the kids have done great, but part of me is nostaligic about growing up and I feel bad that she won't have those traditions to pass on. Even if they are as simple as a glass of oj and breaking the wishbone.

    What were some of the traditions your family had? Do you maintain them now that you are adults, with your own families? Any new traditions?

    How does your family distribute/receive gifts? My family tends to pass out gifts and basically open them at the same time, share what we have, and move on to the next one. It seriously takes about 30 minutes and is a little chaotic. My brother-in-laws family passes gifts out and each one is opened by itself, everyone taking turns. It ends up taking 2-3 hours. There has to be somewhere in the middle, right? Each and every one of us greatly appreciates what we are getting, so the chaos isn't a lack of gratitude. Actually, thinking about it Thanksgiving is the same way, sit down to eat for 20 minutes, clean up, and visit with family (just not around the table).

  2. #2
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Growing up we were allowed to wake up as early as we wanted and to take our stocking and whatever was in that (usually socks, a paperback book, some candy, beef jerky for me and sardines for my sisters, and a few other small things). After that, my parents didn't want to be woken up until at least sunrise but they were usually up earlier anyway because my dad had to milk the cows. When I was older and we no longer had any dairy cows, I couldn't wake my parents until the coffee was ready. After chaotically opening gifts my dad always made a tube of those orange-glazed Pillsbury rolls (we also always had a tube of them on Christmas Eve after church and Thanksgiving morning). One of my sisters and her son live with my parents now and they still operate Christmas morning the same way.

    In our house I always make a tube of the orange rolls as well. We don't really have any other traditions of our own yet though because our daughter is still too young to really understand everything. She is however starting to get that Santa is somebody who comes in through the chimney and leaves gifts, or "prizes" as she calls them.
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  3. #3
    When I was a kid, we'd put the tree up on Christmas Eve and leave it undecorated. Mom, my sister, and I would make 'Klejner' (KLY-ner), Danish deep fried cookies. (Danes eat these year round, but at our house they were a Christmas treat since mom only wanted to make 'em once a year.) When we woke on Christmas Day, the tree would have been decorated by Santa and there would be many, many presents! I remember getting up very early one year, I guess I was about 10, and turning on the TV and falling in love with the movie "Holiday Inn".

    Once my parents were up, we'd open the presents one at a time and enjoy munching on Klejner and milk. Since I had no extended family, we would stay at home and enjoy family time sharing presents and watching some TV until dinner, which was always a turkey-based meal with all the trimmings.

    My wife's family is more energetic in gift opening and we're usually through in an hour, at most. We haven't made Klejner at my house for several years and my protests fall on deaf ears. Oh, and they have a ham-based dinner. (Yechh!)

    Ah well, I have my memories.
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  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Tradition-wise, one of the things we had to coordinate on is how Santa operates. I grew up where Santa wrapped all the presents (except the stocking stuff) but presents from Santa were unwrapped in Mrs. Maister's family. Junior has to wait until at least 6 a.m. before he wakes up parents. Mrs. Maister also grew up with the tradition that they had to eat breakfast and do the dishes before opening presents. This tradition, however, has not carried over to our family.

    I did marry into one kinda neat tradition they call 'ho-ho's'. Ho-ho's are surprise gifts that are intentionally held back for several hours after all the presents under the tree have been opened up. People might be watching tv or playing with their toys and the giver emerges from the basement, or garage or wherever they hid their ho-ho and shouts "ho ho ho" and bestows this (usually very special) gift to its recipient.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Eat breakfast first

    My mama was the youngest of five, and one year her slightly-older sis awoke, opened a baby doll gift for herself, then opened Ma's. Decided she liked the second one better. My grandma told her youngest that the prettier doll had been intended for her. Family lore growing up.

    In my 30s I started traveling to Texas, where the aunt lived, and staying at her house when I passed through. Asked her about it. [Ann Richards accent] "Honey, I was older. Of course I deserved the pretty doll! [/accent]

    So when Ma realized that excited little kids can't wait, she made the rule: no diving into the pile o' presents until everyone is up. I think we had to eat breakfast first.

    And it was Christmas morning. I have dated guys who demand to open on Xmas eve. That causes an unsettling disturbance in the force as it leaves The Day with no focus.

    Another FOO (family of origin) tradition: dinner was simple. Steak, or ham. None of this stuff-a-turkey-cook-for-hours nonsense.

    We had two sets of great aunts & uncles (dear ol' dad's side) living nearby, but no one who needed to be visited. Ma's closest sis was three hours away and we never stayed overnight. I recall the greats coming to visit us, but not necessarily on The Day. (Later I heard about a battle over dinner time; ours was established at 5 or 6 pm, but they'd arrive while the little ones were napping, about 2 pm, and then get upset over the wait.)

    Getting nostalgic for that magical dimly-lit living room, no lights except the tree, and the huge pile of gifts. Present day: I enjoy seeing presents, and watch people open theirs, but it's a memory. And I honestly can't recall the last time I put up a tree and decorated it. Might have been the year before my mother died, 1998.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Christmas has always been a low key affair for both growing up and as an adult. Typically we get the stockings down first and go through the loot (candy, little doo dads, and whatnot) then open presents. Since it was RT and me alone for many years it went pretty quickly. Now that my partner and the baby are in tow it goes a little more slowly but still the same. I make a nice breakfast, they clean up. Generally we all take a nap afterwards. Christmas Day afternoon we go to the movies and get Chinese takeout on the way home for dinner. I am not sure that we will do the movie this year since the baby isn't quite a year and probably won't sit still but we will eat Chinese food
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I think that I might start a new tradition of drinking my Bailey's and Coffee separate.

    Other than opening the presents on Christmas morning, I don't think that we have much in the way of traditions. Family is scattered so we tend to travel either to my dad's house or to the out-laws house. Big dinner that afternoon, otherwise nothing major.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    As a kid, we could wake up as early as we wanted but were not allowed to open anything. The presents were passed out by my dad so that everyone was opening a present at the same time. Stockings were done last. Then my mom made breakfast and we would go to my grandparents.

    We pretty much do the same thing now, except where we end up on Christmas day varies.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    We’d usually go to Mass on Christmas Eve so Christmas morning was all about the presents. We could open our stockings but had to wait until everyone was awake for presents, then we’d each take a turn opening a present. Since I’m the oldest of 4 that would often make opening presents take 2-3 hours, but it was fun, we still do that these days if we’re at my parents’ house over the holidays. Someone would throw a batch of cinnamon rolls in the oven, and I still like to get them for Christmas morning. My dad would do the cooking for Christmas dinner because my mom was a labor and delivery nurse, working night shifts, so she would almost always end up having to work Christmas Eve or Christmas night so would have to take a nap at some point. Extended family was all 3-4 hours away so we would see them some other at point over the holidays.

    The past couple of years we’ve been getting either Indian or Chinese for “Christmas dinner” and I think I’ll be turning that into a tradition. We also Skype with my son’s grandparents so they can see him open their presents, which is fun.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When I lived with the folks, the AM tradition was my dad had to have his coffee before we could open presents. Mom made sure we had enough stuff in our Christmas stockings to keep us occupied until Dad was ready, which was about 8:30 a.m. This tradition continued even when we adult children came home for the holiday. Dad had to have his coffee and Mom made us Xmas stockings.

    Dad only permitted Christmas songs during the opening of presents.

    After the presents were all opened and the general mess was set aside, my Mom made breakfast. After breakfast, she and I worked on getting the Christmas dinner ready.

    At our home I have decreed that no present shall be opened before 8 a.m. Since my son no longer believes in Santa, the obligatory milk and cookies won't be left for him. I have thought about instittuting a replacement tradition - a cold beer and a Victoria Secret catalogue for "Santa," but I don't think it will fly.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    For me, it always depended on what shift my dad was working. Since, in 20 years, he got 1, maybe 2 Christmases off, we would to one grandparents houses, then the other before Christmas. On Chritmas Eve, we would stay up late and read the Nativity from the Gospel of Luke. My mom would allow us to eat some of the Christmas goodies she had been cooking since Thanksgiving and we could open one Christmas gift. On Christmas Day, if had worked midnights, we would open gifts early when he got off work, then he would go to bed.. If he worked days, they would station him in the district our house was located, and we would have a somewhat normal Christmas until and if he got called out. If he worked second shift, we would wait until he got up then open gifts, tho we got a stocking that we could open up while he slept. My mom would allows us to eat the Christmas goodies on Christmas day. We also had a prayer before opening gifts, to keep things in perspective.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    From when I was a kid: the adults get up early enough to shower and get dressed, and start the coffee. Plus a Sara Lee pecan coffee cake was in the oven for breakfast. There was a door between the main part of the house and the bedrooms, and we kids had to wait on the other side until Mom and Dad were ensconced on the couch with their coffee and coffee cake before we could come out. Then it was bedlam.

    In adult life: everyone is showered and dressed for the day, RJ has his coffee, I make the Sara Lee coffee cake (and I'm the only one who eats it) and possibly have a mimosa . The three of us each open stocking stuffers first and then gifts; it takes half an hour. Then RJ and the kid take their gifts back to the bedrooms, and mine sit around under the tree for days; I hate it when it's all over!

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