I've got fuzzy memories of my childhood - what I do remember is more like snapshots rather than detailed, lengthy events so reclaiming memories of traditions is sweet.
Among my favorites....
At Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners my mom's dad (who would probably be called a "foodie" in today's society) often brought "exotic" items for us to all try. I'll never forget the year he brought raw oysters (which I still won't eat!) and we all had to try at least one. It made me more adventurous to try new things and is how I get the kids in my life to try new things at least once before they judge it. It also inspires me to often try cooking something new when contributing to or preparing a holiday meal.
Writing our letters to Santa and burning them so he could read our wishes in the smoke is one that I've learned is quite unique. Over the years we have burned the letters in a variety of ways... A few years ago in a rental house in NC, 15 adults, two teens, and a pre-teen partook in that tradition (which included my brother reading all of the wishes aloud before burning them on a charcoal grill) for the benefit of my then four year old great-nephew. I'm honestly not sure who enjoyed it most!
Reading of the story "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" - it didn't matter who read it when we were kids - my dad, my step-dad, my mom... Didn't matter. It just mattered that before bed on Christmas Eve the story was read before putting out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
Opening one present on Christmas Eve.
Midnight Mass/local Christmas pageant - we did one or the other (sometimes both) nearly every year growing up and I really liked the tradition. Occasionally we do it now depending on A's schedule.
Somewhere along the line we stopped doing individual stockings. My mom got a HUGE stocking that was stuffed with little wrapped items for everyone. Until then, each of us raced around trying to find the BIGGEST sock we could find... And every Christmas morning, the toe of the sock would bulge with the traditional Christmas orange. A few years ago I bought a huge stocking and we do the little wrapped presents too. And I often include oranges just because...
Since we've been married, A and I have developed some of our own traditions. Like the following...
While we decorate our tree and house, we watch "Miracle on 34th Street" and/or "A Christmas Story".
My step-son J gives up all other plans with friends when we tell him it's our night to decorate for Christmas because he LOVES it! It's his job to always put the angel on the top of the tree. Throughout the year we often buy an ornament or two when we are traveling - it's a fun way to revisit some of our adventures over the years.
Each year we pull two names of children from the donation tree. We always pick one boy and one girl. This year we selected a 6 year old boy who wanted cars and trucks and a 7 month old girl in need of clothes. Honestly... I enjoy shopping for friends and family but I LOVE picking out gifts for these kids!
Cookie day! A few years ago we were going to A's cousin's house for an afternoon visit a few weeks before Christmas. On a whim, I packed the ingredients to make and decorate sugar cookies. A delightful tradition was born and we've done it every year since! We often make and decorate about 30 dozen cookies which we then give away to a wide variety of people. This year we are incorporating cookie day into a "Treats for the Troops" event that I'm helping to coordinate for A's Mason's Lodge. I'm hoping that the event becomes part of our Christmas traditions (though my real hope is that there not be a need for ANY service members to be deployed anymore).
Some of the traditions that I love about A's family are...
Every year they receive or make a plum pudding (last year's was an authentic one shipped from A's cousin in England) complete with the flaming booze to warm it. We dim the lights and often sing a carol or two while the alcohol burns.
Singing the Doxology before a holiday meal... We stand in a huge circle, usually around the island in his aunt's big kitchen, holding hands and singing: