This year, we will be celebrating our seventh married holiday season (how… did that happen…?) and our twelfth holiday season as a couple. Beyond being baffled by those numbers, and how did we get so old already, again? It brings me my annual fall pondering: what should we do for the holidays this year?
I grew up in a home where the holidays were marked by one thing: rigid adherence to traditions. We always had a Nativity scene, and we waited till Christmas Eve to add baby Jesus. We always opened presents under the tree the same way (youngest to oldest, one present at a time). We always had a yam dish with marshmallows on top, which my mom loved, and my dad hated so much he refused to taste it while cooking it. And then I went off and partnered up with someone who was Jewish, and later converted myself, throwing our holiday season into a perpetual state of “well-maybe-this-would-work”?
As a couple, our Novembers and Decembers have been marked only by our constant willingness to experiment, and our acknowledgment that no one solution is ever going to be perfect for us. We’ve done Thanksgiving with our parents, in New Mexico, and in England (twice). We’ve given eight presents for Hanukkah, and mostly forgotten it. We’ve had a tree, and not had a tree. I would say we’ve done it all, but life is long, and we intend to keep doing things slightly differently till we die.
But this year marks a new phase in our family holidays. It’s the first year where we have two kids (and one kid old enough to really process what’s going on). And it’s our first year where we’ll be having the December holidays in our house, on our own terms. And honestly… I’m not sure what we’re going to do. Yet. (That’s the exciting part.) What I do know is that we’re trying to create holidays that center around family, and magic, and wonder… and food. I also know that American culture has increasingly focused the holidays around the acquisition of consumer goods, and the older my kids get, the more uncomfortable I become with teaching them that the holidays mean stuff they don’t need.
So this year, as always, I want to hear about what traditions other folks have come up with and love. I plan on stealing from the best, and the best is obviously APW readers.
So, spill. What winter holiday traditions have you created that you love? What traditions are you toying with trying out this year? And hell, what have you tried and failed miserably at (so the rest of us can skip those). We’ll round up your coolest ideas into a list of stealable ideas for the rest of us.