My family has this non-negotiable Christmas tradition. Many of them, actually, but this one in particular sets the story. Every year, we clear our respective schedules and gather ‘round the Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We blast our Christmas playlist as—one by one—we hang ornaments from the boughs of our tree. The kids and I absolutely love the tradition because it gives us a chance to reminisce over Christmases past as we unwrap layer after layer of bubble wrap to uncover a pajama-clad Santa or a sparkly twirling ballerina or even a fragile depiction of the White House that we picked up the year we visited Washington D.C. My husband is not quite as fond of decorating the tree, seeing as he is responsible for overseeing the little kids as they attempt to hang our very breakable glass ornaments from boughs high and low. I know he stresses out about it, but it gets easier as the years go on. In fact, this year I was the only one to break an ornament. There’s more to it than the Tannenbaum, though; our traditional tree decorating night wouldn’t be complete without steaming mugs of hot chocolate. This single tradition is the one that officially kicks off our holiday season, but it’s far from the only one we adhere to.
Everyone has holiday traditions, right? Countless Christmas carols make mention of them. Off the top of my head I can think of lyrics that speak of caroling and pumpkin pie and fig pudding and a Christmas goose. None of those things play a part in our Christmas celebration. I mean, seriously. Is it just me or is pumpkin pie a Thanksgiving thing? Things like that leave me wondering if ours is a family of contrarians. Whereas most families I know celebrate with turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas Eve or Christmas night, for as long as I can remember my family has enjoyed enchiladas for Christmas dinner. This year, my husband and I are even making cranberry margaritas to go alongside. Far from the buttered rum and/or mulled wine that will be served by our neighbors. See? Contrarian, right?
When I was a little girl, I would always sneak peeks at the packages under the tree. My brothers and I would find the ones with our names attached and we’d shake and ponder, trying to determine whether our respective wish lists had been met. When I had children of my own, I wanted to circumvent that pre-Christmas gift guessing so I did as any resourceful mother would do and I broke tradition. I completely ignored gift tags in favor of anonymous gifts under the tree. The brown paper packages I wrap aren’t adorned with traditional name tags; I purposefully leave our gifts nameless so as to build anticipation and deter premature present peeking.
Different though they may be, our Christmas traditions have come to shape our holiday celebration and I truly can’t imagine what Christmas would be like without them. I’m curious, though, how far “out there” our traditions really are. I know that here in the Old Pueblo countless families will celebrate the holiday with homemade tamales in place of the holiday bird. But what other festivities take place in local homes? Let me know in the comments. I’m always game to add to our eclectic family traditions.