I have been thinking about Christmas traditions and wanting to write down some ours for Kaiden. I realize they are evolving. Some we have had for years and some are fairly new. When I was a little girl, my mother did a lot of cooking. She made fruit cake, breads, cookies and candies, pies. We always had a large gathering on Christmas - there were 5 of us kids, spouses and grandchildren. I do not remember many leftovers. I think the tradition of all the cooking and especially the baking came from the time my parents grew up. The sweets were not an everyday thing especially during the depression when my oldest siblings were raised. These sweets were special and part of the gifts of Christmas. My parents recall getting an orange, hard candy and nuts in their stockings - usually the only time they had oranges and hard candy when they were growing up. Items not grown locally and sugar were not items readily available. I do not do much baking anymore. Our gatherings are smaller, my kids do not eat many sweets and we certainly do not need them and they are not as special anymore. I do make pizzelles every year. I think I would be in trouble if I didn't!
When my son was a little boy Santa filled our stockings and hung candy canes on the tree. He had a tree in his room decorated with his ornaments. I made our advent calendar (the original one is at his house and Kaiden puts the ornament on everyday). He learned you could rearrange the letters in Noel to spell Leon, a tradition that continues today. We went to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, which we still do.
After Tito and I were married and our families blended, we blended our traditions. Some decorations were packed away for Nathan and Carrie, some continued to be used and we acquired new ones. We started buying an ornament from our trips, we have a lighthouse from Maine, a Canadian Mountie from Victoria, little birds from Mexico, chili peppers from Taos, an elk from Estes Park.
The year Tito was battling cancer and going through chemo, we made several changes. Since the kids had other families to celebrate with and we were dealing with so many changes in our life, we changed our celebration. Having a "traditional' Christmas dinner on the 25th didn't seem so important anymore. It could be brunch on the 23rd, tamales on the 24th, leftovers on the 26, just as long as we were together. In order to bring some fun to our house that year, we started our Stocking Stuffer game. All the items that would normally go into stockings were wrapped and put in the center of the table, dice are thrown, when certain numbers come up a gift is taken, when they are gone from the center they are taken from each other, when other numbers come up, all gifts that person has go back in, the gifts are not opened until the time limit is over. We really have a good time with this.
After Tito was well and free from cancer we decided to start a tradition of creating memories as our gift at Christmas such as our trip to the Colorado symphony this year. No matter what traditions we hold onto, or change, or create, we will always keep two things, Jesus and family.