Friday, December 4, 2009

The Christmas Pickle and our other silly traditions

When Nae was in the fourth grade I was visiting her classroom just before Christmas break.
The teacher asked the kids to share what their favorite family Christmas tradition were.
I'll never forget the look on Nae's face when she looked to me for an answer.

The truth was we had none.
Zero. Zilch.

I wasn't raised with any traditions.
I'd had Nae young, got married, had another baby, went through nursing school, worked full time had two more kids. Life was a blur at that time.
I was 26 years old. I had trouble planning my meals for the week.

But after listening to those cute little kids proudly describe the special things they did around the holidays I knew we needed to find some traditions.
And fast!

So I started talking about it with the kids.

Now I will warn you these are pretty silly traditions.
There are no deep meanings in these.
It's just what we do as a family.

Christmas ornaments:
I don't know if you'd count this as a tradition but I do. Each kid has their own Christmas ornament box. Every year I buy a new ornament or two for each kid that has something to do with what they are interested in that year. Because I only have one ornament from when I was a kid, I wanted for my kids to someday leave home and have a box full of ornament and memories.
When we decorate the tree it makes it easy for the kids to hang their own ornaments and reminisce.

Christmas Eve PJ's and Secret Santa:
One year I thought it would be nice to have new PJ's for Christmas morning. I wrapped them and told the kids they got to open one gift Christmas Eve. I know, it was kinda mean. They were not thrilled with their PJ's but then to my surprise the next year they asked if we could do that again. So now every year we do the same thing. The kids joke about how they don't know what the gift is. They act all excited and silly. The only twist now is when we have others with us on Christmas Eve, guess what they get. Yep, new PJ's. Now that the kids are older they have also added Secret Santa on Christmas Eve. The kids draw names just between themselves at Thanksgiving and open that gift the night before Christmas.

Monkey Bread and A Christmas Story:
We all get into our new PJ's and make monkey bread, drink egg nog and watch the best Christmas movie ever.
Yes, A Christmas Story. I think everyone in my family can recite that movie by heart. And if you haven't seen it...then you're lame! I can't imagine there is anyone living in the USA who hasn't seen it but if you haven't just go to TBS on Christmas Eve, they play it nonstop, back to back all day and night long (yes, it's that good!).

Santa comes:
Yes, Santa still comes at our house. When my kids got to the age where they notified me that they didn't believe that Santa was real we had a little heart-to-heart (or shall I say a veiled threat). This is kinda how my end of the conversation went: "Honey, you can believe whatever you want-- but Santa still comes to our house and brings all the presents. If you decide to tell your brothers or sister what you believe-- then you will get nothing from Santa--oh, and did I mention that Santa brings ALL the presents?"

It worked for me.

The Christmas Pickle:
I'm a little worried that this might be a little many have asked. Back during that first year of trying to find some traditions, someone told me about the Christmas Pickle. I had to search forever to find one. Now a days they are everywhere and come with a little card describing some "pickle legend" or something.
I don't know anything about all that.
All I know is that I hide the pickle on the tree Christmas Eve and the kid who finds it first Christmas morning gets a little extra present. In the past I've given candy or an special ornament. This year I will be kicking it up a little with a gift card (gotta keep the teens engaged).

Christmas Strata:
Every year I make a strata for breakfast Christmas morning. It is the same recipe of strata that was served at my bridal shower. It's nice because I can make it the night before, set the table and not have to do anything in the morning except enjoy the family.
I will admit for years the kids hated strata and complained constantly. A few years ago I told them that I would make something different. "You can't do that!!! It's our tradition!!" Now they all claim to like it.

So there you have it. Every year I am threatened with bodily harm if I forget any of our traditions (really).

It just goes to show you that your traditions don't have to be fancy or elaborate. Just as long as they are special to your family.

I would love to hear about your Christmas traditions (I would love to keep adding more)


Daffy said...

My mom did the ornament thing with us too. When I moved out it was so awesome to have my own little decorating stash and its super cool to look at my tree and remember what was going on in my life at Christmas each year. She always gave us an ornament that had some significance to that year.

I'm doing that with my daughter. Super fun!

McGillicutty said...

WOW we share some traditions like opening a present on Christmas eve, although I LOVE The idea of pj's. The girls have actually asked for pj's this year so to open them the night before would be GREAT!!!!! I make a breakfast casserole the night before, and have mimosa's with it!!!! LOL.. that's momma's little tradition!!!

rxBambi said...

Those are great traditions. Maybe I'll do the same thing but with a Christmas pumpkin or something. NOT a pickle. Sorry. But I like the idea.

I also love the idea of the pj's on Christmas eve. Great gift. the teens all love their pj pants.

ciao pickle, I mean punkin!

Deborah said...

OK, now I feel bad...I don't really do anything for traditions.
I do have them watch Santa at the Macy's Day parade and wave!!! Family tradition or should I say, just me and the kids.
They have to believe in Santa Claus because I do, or they don't get gifts hehehehe
That's about it, we do stockings and mine I pray doesn't get left empty. I still worry about that. Maybe this year I'll start a tradition of some sort. I'll have to let you know!
Better late than never!

blueviolet said...

Those were really fun to read!! From no traditions to more than a few of them, you're doing really well, especially since your kids won't let you alter them. :)

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Those are great traditions. I have done the strata and we have a christmas pickle too. This is getting me into the holiday mood!

shortmama said...

We do the same thing with a Christmas pickle at our house!!!!

mint said...

I put a bird orn. on my tree...suppose to be good luck!!

Mrs Montoya said...

I LOVE the idea of creating an ornament box for each kid. That is wonderful and something I am going to start THIS YEAR. Thank you! We also do PJs on Christmas Eve, but at 7 and 5 I am not sure that my kiddos realize it's a tradition yet. They only latch on to the ones that they like :) Thank you for sharing such special memories for your family and good ideas for mine.

Haddock said...

Now I will warn you these are pretty silly traditions.
There are no deep meanings in these.................
but there is fun doing it together and that is all that matters.

Brian Miller said...

oh i like monkey bread, and pajamas...we got a christmas pickle two years ago...that one is definitely a fun tradition. hope you have a great holiday season!

otin said...

You have developed quite a few traditions there. I never really heard of a Christmas pickle, though. It seems like I am in a pickle, all year long!

Neuffj said...

What a fabulous post. I just decorated the tree today. Traditions are a must! Thanks for so many fabulous ideas.
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mommyto3kiddos said...

I do the ornament tradition too! My mom did that for us growing up, and I really liked it, so I continued it. We also open 1 present on Christmas Eve, I wanted to have a tradition that was "ours", so I started that one for Micah. :) I do like the pj twist to it though. Our other tradition is to go down to Bronson Park on Christmas Eve, see the lights, and then come home, make hot chocolate and watch White Christmas! This year, we went down to the park Friday night after Thanksgiving for the lighting of the tress. It's the first year we've done it, but I think as long as we are in Michigan, that will be a new tradition for us.

Kelly Polizzi said...

hi just found your blog through another blog I read and wanted to say that these are wonderful traditions. I will be adopting a few myself. Thank you for sharing.

steviewren said...

Tori, my grown children are the same way. My parents take any and all grandchildren and now great grandchildren that want to go to see the Nutcracker each year. Yesterday my mother asked my daughter, who is 28, if she is going this year. Sadly she told mother that she was afraid not...she just has too much on her plate with her 10 month old son. This is her first year since she was three to miss out on this tradition.

I was glad to see you over on my blog this morning. It's always great to meet new people....especially ones with ADD. My youngest son definitely has it as does my ex husband.

Jessica said...

My mom has just started the PJ tradition with my family, and I have to say the sons-in-law have been a little slow to get on board. I think they secretly love it. =) Even when we all put them on and take pictures. I'm SURE they love it. =)

I LOVE strata. Can I come have breakfast on Christmas morning?

Actually, I'm thrilled to be the one in charge of creating Christmas memories now. I'm gonna do it up and do it up good! =D

Pam said...

I LOVE your traditions. AS a matter of fact, we have many of the same traditions. The kid's ornaments, the new PJs on Christmas Eve, A Christmas Story. All favorites of ours as well. Another favorite is that I buy an ornament any time we travel anywhere. Something that signifies that location. Every year when we unwrap the ornaments it's a way to relive all our family vacations. Priceless.

tea said...

It was fun reading about your Christmas traditions. I have really enjoyed making traditions of our own over the years. It's so much fun and so special! :)

Beth Kramer said...

I remember a couple years ago we were at B&D's for a party or something, and you asked me what our Christmas traditions were. I said "none."

Well...ever since then, you got me thinking. And there ARE traditions...I just hadn't thought of them that way before you asked.

We go to candlelight service Christmas Eve. What's nice is now we live in walking distance, so it's a lovely walk under the stars on Christmas Eve. We come home to something warm in the crockpot. Then enjoy some quiet family time.

The girls sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve. I remember sleeping in Bret's trundle bed...we would stay up late talking and giggling and LISTENING for hooves!!!

Christmas morning we get the girls (they can't come out of their room until we get them), and have eggnog, pineapple, sticky buns and stockings. (I used to sweat an empty I fill my own, and have a ball doing it!). Then we eat a baked egg casserole and a real breakfast. Then we open presents.

In the afternoon we go to whoever of Mom, Donna, or me is hosting dinner. More presents. Sledding if we're at Bret's. And so it goes.

Sorry this is so long...but you asked!!! :-)

Merry Christmas!

Widge said...

Oh yay I can so relate! I've had 4 children all before I was 26 and felt a bit useless lately that we don't have many family traditions ether. I'm so un organised at times and like you said planning dinner is a task ! I thought I'd missed the boat on getting them started but by reading this I I've realised it's better late than never! we have a few small ones but Id love more. Really love the p.j and pickle idea. (although it would be hard to find a pickle here in NZ I think).

Really enjoying your blog :)

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