What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?
Christmas Eve is a big deal in our house! We start with evening mass and afterwards my parents host a massive party. Lots of food, laughter, dancing, and incriminating secrets from younger years are spilled that most often my parents never knew of. This typically occurs after a few cocktails made with Dad's homemade pineapple-infused vodka! The party lasts until the wee hours, and I love that grade school friends still drop in to catch up on the past year.
My brother gave us those "smitten mittens," and we got the biggest kick out of them!
Christmas Day starts with Irish Cream coffees [served in specific vintage glassware] and Dad's hashbrowns, and then lots of unwrapping. We try to start with opening one gift at a time, but always end in sea of wrapping paper being torn to shreds as everyone shrieks and yells with giddiness.
My embroidered towels that Mom did on her machine for us. And the old wire park trashcan they came in-- probably my favorite gift ever.
Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?
Always traditional with cookies and milk, but we'd also leave food outside for the reindeer. On a side note: my parents were the ultimate masters at the entire act of Christmas. They would stamp boot prints in the fireplace ash, leave reindeer "pebbles" in the grass and shake jingle bells from the woods to make us think Santa was parking his sleight. All of this had me "believing" well over the accepted age limit...
Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?
Not at all really. They still involve family, doing for others, and reflecting on the real reason for Christmas.
Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?
Absolutely. Christmas music is always on, we put lots of thought into our cards each year, and finding the PERFECT present for others is paramount. We start super early and can not wait to give people their gifts. We always do something homemade [this year we used my grandmother's Amaretto recipe] for neighbors and co-workers. And we also start preparing for the coming year and how we want to better ourselves. It's definitely a time for growth and reflection in our household.
Have you ever gone caroling?
Oh goodness, no. I can't carry a note in a bucket! Although I do sing Christmas songs around the house and in my car as though I have the voice of Judy Garland.
What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?
Anything homemade. My family loves to cook, so I just look forward to things people have put a lot of time and love into making... and it helps that it's ALWAYS delicious! That said, we aren't bakers. So we'll have a table full of amazing food and then one puny pie on a table way off to the side. My husband's family is the opposite, pies and sweets on the main table and then a handful of savory dishes for the "filler foods." It's a fun balance to visit the two homes!
What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?
Dad's pepper roast and Mom's ham. And always something Lebanese.
What is your Christmas decorating style?
It changes every year! This year I'm really into the big C7 colored bulbs and vintage ornaments. I went overboard with fresh, hand-tied garland everywhere and toy soldier blowmold figures lurking in a few corners of the house. Last year, it was all about white twinkle lights and mercury glass. Who knows what I'll be itching for next year and, luckily for me, my husband's idol is Clark Griswold. I never worry about lighting the exterior; it's always done to perfection!
My mom on her bicycle in front of their house. My grandmother also hand-tied her garland, which you can see hanging over their door.
White lights or colored lights?
I'm one for variety, so I think both have their place during Christmas!
What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?
Driving around looking at Christmas lights, generally with the dog in tow. Warm cups of homemade hot coco in hand and everyone telling the driver to "slow down because 15 mph is WAY too fast" to take in all the goodness!
Do you have a favorite holiday memory?
It's a toss up between my siblings shocking the heck out of one another with silver tinsel and my grandmother's nativity scene. She would spend hours outside making sure everything was just so and spreading the hay around the wooden stable that housed the pieces. I inherited an amazing nativity set from my Uncle, a priest and antiques dealer, and it means the world to me. I definitely see this being a Christmas tradition in my own house from here on. But the tinsel wars are kinda hard to top [... and don't think you can do this with today's "faux tinsel" either. You need the good old stuff that's thin and electric!]
Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."
a real tree.
Courtney- thank you for sharing your holiday memories and traditions with us! Your Christmas Eve traditions sound like enviable ones! I love that your parents put so much effort into making you and your siblings "believe," even if their actions led you to believe longer than most. And, really, shouldn't we all wish to still believe wholeheartedly in the magic of the season?