I grew up never really considering my family as having any holiday traditions. I just thought everything we did was pretty normal across the board for other families, at least Christian or Italian families. (I never really embraced my British side until I got married and lost my Italian surname.)
Later, in my teens, we did start some traditions. On Labor Day and Memorial Day, we would play some sort of calm outdoor sport. Badminton, bocce ball, croquet; that sort of stuff.
However, now that I’ve been out of my parents’ house, and married for several years, I’ve discovered that everything we did was our holiday traditions.
Christmas Eve, Dad would dress up as Santa (we always knew it was him, and he knew it) and give us one present to open, and later he would read about the birth of Jesus from the book of Luke. When I was a kid, we’d all wake up the next morning and tear into all our presents. Mum took most of the pictures. After everything was opened Dad assembled the toys that needed it, and would likely realise he forgot to buy batteries.
Starting around the time my sister was born, we’d trek to Oklahoma to share Christmas with my maternal granddad. We joined him for every Christmas, Independence Day (his favourite American holiday), and starting with his 70th, his birthday, until he passed away in 2004.
The first Christmas not going to visit Gampa felt weird. It was our only real Christmas tradition, in my eyes, and we’d have to figure out what to do now. It didn’t take long. As Bro and I got older, the presents we wanted got more expensive, so we didn’t have as many as our still young sister. We soon started going one at a time opening our presents.
Oh yeah, and before opening presents, we’d sing a few carols (all Christ-based, of course) and pray, thanking God for our provisions and the ability to celebrate Christmas with gifts.
Long story short (I know — too late), our current traditions (with Hubby’s family) are definitely blatant, as far as I’m concerned. Everyone takes turns playing Black Ops zombies on Christmas Eve as we await midnight. That’s when we open presents, one at a time. After presents, we stay up late (anywhere from 2-4 am) playing Apples to Apples, and maybe more zombies.
What made me think of this topic is that this year will be different again. It’s the first Christmas without my father-in-law, as he passed away in May. It was already decided long before he died, but we’re all going to Dallas to spend Christmas at my brother-in-law’s house instead of Tulsa. While most things will remain the same, especially zombies, we’ve all also agreed that no one needs presents. Everyone’s getting them, of course, from at least one person, but we’re not making it a big deal.
This year, I’ve decided to celebrate my birthday on Christmas Day. The only reason for this is that I want to celebrate it with the family, and that’s the only day we’re all guaranteed to be there. I have ordered an epic cake :). I think it’s epic, anyway, but not as epic as the one I almost ordered — a spherical cake that looks like Mars. I was never fully set on that, so I changed it to something simpler that I know I will love, and so will others. At least the gamers will.