Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian
We have some Christmas traditions that happen during the Christmas season and some that happen on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some are more secular in nature and some are more sacred and spiritual in nature.
We decorate our tree the day after Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving and my focus is on family and gratitude for my blessings. After Thanksgiving, I can then focus on Christmas.
Each Christmas, we get a new ornament for the tree. My mom always got us a new ornament each year. For several years, when my sisters and I were teenagers, we would go into San Francisco for a girls day with mom. The big stores on Union Square used to decorate their store windows and it was so cool to see. We would have lunch together and then we would find our ornaments for that year. Macy's used to turn the top floor of their store into a Christmas store and it was so fun to look through. Those are some wonderful memories that I can relive each time I pull out one of those ornaments.
I have continued the ornament tradition as has my mom. She gives the grandchildren a new ornament every year, often from one of her trips. This year, each grandchild received a lovely nativity ornament.
A TARDIS, because every tree needs a TARDIS. We also have K-9, a dalek, the 11th Doctor and a sonic screwdriver! I'm tempted to get a Weeping Angel.
The Artist loves dinosaurs and I think at last count, we had about 13 dinosaurs on our tree.
The Boy has been collecting monuments. He has a great pyramid, a sphinx, the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Big Ben and the Sydney Opera House so far.
I grew up in wine country and while I don't drink alcohol, grapes always remind me of my Livermore Valley.
Our tree is eclectic. It's not color coordinated, nothing matches. But every ornament has a story and means something to each one of us.
Each year, we attend a live nativity. It's awesome and it is such a wonderful way to really put into perspective the birth of Jesus Christ. I also have several nativities that I put out as part of my Christmas decorations. I love the reminders of Jesus Christ.
At our house, every wants to worship the Baby Jesus. The wise men, Baby Groot, Hobbes, K-9, Boudreaux the Crocodile, a Dalek, a purple minion and a dinosaur.
Soup & Bread
Our Christmas Eve dinner is always soup and bread and eaten by candlelight. My parents started this tradition and I've continued it. My mother always taught us that the soup and bread symbolized the humble circumstances into which the Savior was born. It's really the perfect start to Christmas Eve, which is my favorite part of Christmas.
The Boy loves to look at Christmas lights. So a couple of years ago we started going out for a drive to see Christmas lights after dinner. We always have a good time, we laugh and we're together. When we get back from seeing Christmas lights, we make s'mores.
I collect Christmas stories as does my mother, who always gives me a new one each year. This year it's The Symbols of Christmas: Finding Meaning in the Symbols of the Season.
The Boy and his cousin reading Peef the Christmas Bear.
Christmas Eve stories
Another tradition that my parents started and that we continue is Christmas stories. After lights and s'mores, each family member chooses one or two stories to read around the fire. Some are funny (The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas) and some are tender (A Christmas Prayer, which I can't get through and The Doctor always has to finish or When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem). We always finish by reading the account of Jesus' birth from the scriptures. It's the perfect way to end Christmas Eve.
In The Doctor's native England, Christmas stockings are left at the ends the children's beds. I think it's to buy the parents extra time in the mornings. Our boys love to sleep in the same room together on Christmas Eve, even now that they are teenagers and they tell us that they wake up in the middle of the night to go through their stockings, which are filled with practical things like socks and toothbrushes, some little toys and candy.
We always have cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It's tradition! I make them the night before and let them slow rise in the fridge.
I love seeing the joy in my children's eyes when they open their gifts. I love, even more, the joy they feel when they watch their brother or their dad and me open gifts from them. To me, Christmas joy comes from the giving and not the receiving and it thrills me when my children recognize and feel that joy.
What about you? What are some of your favorite traditions?