Sunday, November 18, 2012


This is part of PAIL's monthly theme post series! Check out more traditions here!

Aside from being one of my favorite songs from a musical, (note that I've seen far more musicals than most people, so this is a pretty significant statement) tradition is something we are trying to build around here.  Pre-kid, we established the tradition of alternating whose family we saw for Thanksgiving.  It's also traditional for me to make at least one if not three or four pies for Thanksgiving, no matter how many people are going to attend whatever dinner it is.  Once we had apple pie for breakfast for a week afterward because I got so overexcited about apple pies that there were three for the 7 people at dinner (including the kid who ate two bites and then was done), plus at least one other pie.

In terms of holiday decorating, we decidedly do ornaments.  The kid has gotten an ornament each December from her aunt, and we adults started with a moose ornament theme, adding one each year.  I think now we've moved on to adding bird ornaments.  There are no holiday decorations for December until after American Thanksgiving (how do you Canadians decide when to put up seasonal decorations without that line?).  We do a festive winter pine tree and the spouse's family traditionally goes out to hack one down from a tree farm, and we went and got one ourselves last year, despite it being well outside our budget.  We even pretended to let the kid pick it out.  She decided she didn't like the one we chose, then we walked around a bit more, suggested a few more, and then looped back to that one, and poof! She liked it!  With only the mini car now, I imagine this is out but we'll go along to cut down Grandma and Grandpa's tree.

In the name of being broke, we've established that the kid gets a single present from us and one from Santa.  So far it's been pretty successful and I hope it's a few years before the kid realizes that other kids get more than one present from their parents.

I am a big fan of twinkly lights and I'll put them up all over the house.  During this decorating process, we've established the tradition of everyone having egg nog and playing festive holiday music.  Egg nog is a tradition from the spouse's family again, but it's delicious, so we have adopted it.

Our approach to traditions is to choose ones we both like to be our family's own.  We try to negotiate well ahead of the tradition's timing how it will be implemented and what will happen so nobody is upset about it, which goes well among the three of us and less well among the extended family.  My mother in law has tried to establish having a big holiday cookie baking day at her house with me and my sister in law, but it's hard because my sister in law gets weird during the holidays (often declaring herself Scrooge, probably because she gets subjected to the vast swath of her large family asking why they don't have kids yet and passing off babysitting to her as a result) and I'm in school, so 10 dozen cookies just don't have time to be eaten before New Year's if we don't make them until after the end of finals.  Perhaps now that the kid is big enough to be really involved in cookie baking, this will work out better.  Interestingly, despite not usually being invited, the spouse has joined us for cookie baking for a couple of years (while my brother in law leaves the house lest he be asked to wash something or otherwise help).  Perhaps we just need to make it a family tradition of our own so nobody gets left out.

I am hopeful that we'll create some bigger traditions with the kid's collaboration (and maybe even Little Monster's input eventually).  Growing up my family traditionally didn't put nametags on presents so it was a surprise to guess who each present was for (bonus surprise!).  This doesn't go so well now that my mom's memory is dwindling, so we've given up on it, and it's a smidgen sad but mostly just life.  Back on the farm it was traditional for me and my sibling to get up and do all the chores as a surprise present as well, but no more farm, so that's also out.

We've sort of established with my family that for our festive December dinner, we cook something elaborate and everyone helps with the chopping or frying or something.  Last year we made baked egg rolls and that clearly required everyone's help with all the chopping and then rolling... and it was delicious, and gluten free and/or dairy free and low salicylates and we almost got the kid to try one (but she did eat some carrots and bok choy, so that's something).  I think this year we'll do lo mein.  This reminds me of an excellent (if sacrilegious) book in which Jesus and his best buddy Biff start a tradition of eating Chinese food to celebrate Jesus' birthday, which I hear is a thing common in big cities because Chinese take-out places are open Christmas day (you lucky ducks).


  1. I love your traditions! We were low on traditions when I was growing up, and so far I haven't been doing that great, but I think it's time to start really thinking about it. It doesn't help that my husband could care less (and has WAAAY different holiday traditions than mine--he's Hindu, I'm Christian).

  2. Jesus has a best friend named Biff? Who knew? And I think it's freaking hilarious....

    We have a the cookie baking tradition too. However, we've had to modify it because one of my nephews has a nut allergy. So we have 2 sessions. One where my nephews are there for nut free cookies, and the second is my oldest sister and I to make the nut cookies.

    Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is McDonald's (GASP!) because growing up it was the only place open in my home town after Christmas Eve Mass. My mom didn't feel like cooking all day on Christmas if she cooked on Christmas Eve so evolved our "traditional" Christmas Eve dinner...If I ate Chinese food, that would probably be a good idea, but alas I can eat the crap at McDonald's but not Chinese food. :)

    1. In my youth, I worked at McDonald's and Santa came through the drive through (with Mrs. Claus too, if I remember right) and gave everyone working a little present. It was highly entertaining.

  3. Ha! I love this run down. Especially the bit where everyone is invited and everyone helps. I am less a fan of eggnog but a big fan of turning on the holiday tunes once decorating starts! I hope some day to infuse the tiniest bit of Christmas spirit into BJB, but hopefully the boys can help with that.

    Now, onto the true dilemma: how do Canadians decide when to start decorating? December 1. No exceptions!

  4. I love the sound of decorating, festive music and eggnog!! :) Sounds perfect! I want to do that right now in fact!! But instead I should be working and am actually blogging but at least blogging looks like working! ;) That is a neat idea of not putting tags on gifts, except you might think something is for you, get super excited, then realize it isn't!! :/ Did that ever happen?? I really like the ornament tradition! My husband and I never started one but I ordered Alidia's first one this year and will hopefully get her a new one every year.

    SRB said Canadians decorate on Dec. 1st... just wanted to say that I have a mix of friends who do it differently. Some say anytime after Nov 11th, others say Dec 1st, then in my actual hometown, they actually have a Christmas parade the same weekend as American thanksgiving every year so people do their decorating that weekend.