1. Christmas Eve is a pain, Christmas Day is fun. This one was the way my family did it growing up. Christmas Eve was divided between my mom's family (morning) and my dad's family (evening). The difference really was like night and day. Mom's family were LDS pioneer stock, transplanted Idohoans in Houston, and our holidays with them were constant and unchanging. We did no gift exchanges, we focused on eating and fellowship. Dad's parents, on the other hand, were chain-smoking, wine-drinking folks who thought the only good thing the Mormons did was make peanut butter. (We have a peanut butter factory in Houston.) The focus of our gathering there was also food, but not eating it- Grandpa would hold forth for hours about what "good" food really was, and while lighting a new cigarette with the butt of the old one, would lecture us at length about how white sugar would kill us all.
Christmas morning, on the other hand, was just us kids with Mom and Dad. Mom held Christmas day to be inviolate- no one went anywhere, no one came to us...it was a day we had to be together, and I liked it a lot.
Now, we are beginning new traditions. Christmas morning is at home, brunch with Mom, mid-afternoon dinner with Sven's mom. I loved our Christmas Eve-Hanukah celebration at Liz and Harry's, and that may become a tradition as well...
2. Christmas must contain at least one weird food item, sometimes delicious, but sometimes mind-numbingly horrible. Dad's mother made some of the delicious items...her Hello Dolly cookies were staples every year. Grandma Pratt, on the other hand, was known for a dish called "Corn and Oysters," made with canned creamed corn and canned oysters. It smelled as good as it sounds. Dad always explained to us that it was because Grandma was from the north, so she didn't know any better. Sven's mom made the sweetest fruit salad imaginable, from canned fruits in heavy syrup, then coated in sugar and left in the refrigerator overnight. This was the healthy portion of the meal. He still resents that I can't make fruit salad like his mom.
3. I refuse to make anything for Christmas dinner that I don't like. This is a new tradition, started by me once I began making Christmas dinner on my own. Sven and I sat down together one year and listed all of the items we associated with Christmas dinner, and when the list reached 20 items, we agreed it was ridiculous. So now, each year I personally make the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and token green vegetable. Sven, the real cook in the family, is in charge of the gravy and the experimental dish. So far the biggest success was the Sweet Potato Mousse of 2005, which is still the only way I can eat sweet potatoes.
4. "Frosty The Snowman" runs 24 hours a day in our home beginning on Thanksgiving day, and ending on Christmas Eve. This is a tradition begun by Deb Jr. last year, and one I intend to break as soon as humanly possible.
5. Sven tolerates my year-end clip-down fest. The Soup, Best Year Ever, Top 40 Videos of the Year- he hates this stuff, but as a special gift to me, he limits his criticism to passive aggressive eye rolls, gusting sighs, and remote-control battery removal.
6. I'm thinking, in the future, of starting a traditional New Year's trip. If we left the day after Christmas, we could have a few days to enjoy a mini-vacation. Deb Jr. loves caves, and there are several within a day's drive of us. We could also try a new place every year, or return to old favorites. I'm thinking four days total- day to travel, two days there, day to come back- so it wouldn't be our whole vacation, but I think a little getaway might be just the thing to prevent the post-Christmas lazies from causing my clothing to shrink the way it always seems to...
This has been fun! Try it, let me know when you do!