Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas is Christmas, no matter where we are.

Some traditions hold through the generations, but what are traditions if new ones don't crop up as families meld together?  Case in point: Christmas Eve dinner.  As a kid, the tradition depended on where Christmas Eve was held.  If it was with my maternal grandparents it involved waiting to spot the first star (which I wonder sometimes if it wasn't Saturn pulling tricks), then having a dinner that involved fish and an assortment of Polish foods.  In my parents' house the chicken soup was simmering on the stove as a light Christmas dinner before heading off to Midnight Mass, which sometimes was held at midnight but more often started at 9:30, 10, 11... or some other time.

Last night, we had Chinese food and sushi.   Because we like Chinese food and sushi.  And NoodAsia delivers.

And we watched the third episode of season 2 of "Sherlock" in anticipation of the new season starting soon. Zaytoun was thrilled, that's for sure.  "Sherlock" is one of those shows you can watch over and over again, a rare find it seems and each episode is a movie in itself, 90 minutes of cleverness.  Zaytoun, suck it up, you have no qualifications to comment of such a great show.

Each year, another tradition we follow is the gingerbread house building.  I don't make one (I don't want to ruin Christmas quite that fast) but my folks send one to the kids each year and each year we pick a time to put it all together.  This being the first year I'm working full-time, gingerbread house building happened Christmas Eve.

She should really get that monkey, uh, baboon, off her back.

My kids are decent artists.  A couple are better than others, but on the whole, they can and do create lovely things.

Gingerbread houses are not one of them.

There's a cat with tentacle legs in there.

Yes, candy corns do belong on a gingerbread house, why?

Someone figured out that simpler is better.

Even Ian got in on it.  Yes, it was under duress, but when there are 6 pieces to a house everyone has to put forth an effort.  His turned out to be a camel.  Well, that's what he told us.

The boys and I played a game of Ticket to Ride: Asia (I misjudged a transfer city and lost out my longest route... ack!).  Nicholas was our champ which highly irritated Jonathon and I think I've learned that until they are, say, 30, board games are not a good idea on Christmas.

A little Sergeant Frog, a couple kids took naps, and then... midnight came.  Our midnight tradition began because of Midnight Mass... we'd come home from church, have some soup, and then open gifts.  Stockings were completed on December 6 for Saint Nicholas Day and we don't do Santa, so all the gifts have been wrapped and placed under the tree over the past couple weeks.  When midnight Christmas morning strikes and the faux fireplace on TV with Christmas carols is playing... hot cocoa for those who want some... everyone picks a comfortable spot and someone is playing Santa, it's time to open gifts.  When the kids were younger we had a Santa (the one pulling out gifts and making sure it's not a dozen presents for one person at a time) and an elf (the one passing the gifts around, helpful when you have extended family).  This year, a Santa sufficed and Katherine stepped up.

If the tree looks a little disheveled, you should have seen it last year with no ornaments and missing half the branches.  The cats were slightly better behaved this year.  At least they didn't pre-open any packages.

The grandparents were very good to the kids this year, they sent new sweaters, calendars, and ornaments to everyone.  Jonathon was only 1/2 dressed as per the norm, so he donned his new shirt as soon as it came out of the package.  Donned.  I feel like that word is only used during the holidays, isn't it, thanks to a certain Christmas carol.

Nicholas got a new dog.  Maybe we can burn the old one.

We may be years behind the trend, but pillow pets were still on the wishlist.

Katherine made out like a bandit this year.  Really, both girls did.  OK, all the kids did.  I'm not sure what got into us.  And the kids were really good to each other and us as well.  There were useful items for the girls' upcoming Week Without Walls trips, items for the kitchen, clothing, toys, items for work and items for fun.  A new day planner I was hoping for. RC Cars for the boys. Matching Capitals cups for Ian and I from my folks, which totally rock.  He even got a new bow-tie from them, for our hopeful attendance at next year's Marine Ball. Cameras for each of the girls (hello Cairo, Addis, and Paris!).  iPods for each of the boys.  And yes, an iPad for Katherine who is heading off to college soon (no word yet where).  And of course plenty of quirky stuff.  A Settlers of Catan cookbook for Jonathon, 4 seasons of Glee for Rebecca (order from people!), and a Bag of Holding for Ian. New games, new books, new bath suds, oh my!

To think that several packages haven't arrived yet.  It feels like we went overboard.  Again.

Traditions evolve and they'll do so again in 2014 when Katherine will for the first time be a visitor rather than a full-time member of the household for the holidays.  I look forward to another year of change and growth in our home, and am so thankful that no matter the rough patches we remain our little family.

I had one Christmas wish this year.  It'll take work, it'll take time, but it'll produce awesome dividends if... no, when... it comes to pass.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a very very blessed and happy 2014.  And may all your Christmas wishes come true.

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