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Holiday Traditions in your family....


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Since we are all a little family here at EC.com it would be nice to share the holiday traditions we observe with our families in "real time"...you know the people you live with.

I'll start...in my family I start cooking (for Christmas Day) on Christmas Eve before we attend mass. We come home from mass and each of us opens one gift. There was the "incident" in 1997 where I selected a gift for our son to open only to have him hand it back and ask me to let him chose his own. Reluctantly, I agreed. Why "reluctantly"...because I knew the one he was determined to open was undershirts, socks and underwear. When he opened the gift, his expression was...like the Visa commercial..PRICELESS!!

Relative to the meal. I firmly believe that everyone brings something from their culture to their holiday meal. Having been raised by African -American southerners, we had the turkey (y'all already know how I feel about that) and ham. We also had collard greens, cornbread dressing, Mac and Cheese, Candied Yams, and an assortment of cakes. Red Velvet, and Sock-It-To Me cake.

What has always been important to my family is to take a moment to remember the expression "there but for the grace of God" and how it applies to our lives and to recall what we've done throughout the year to make someone else's life brighter.

Okay, don't be shy!! Step up and share! You're among family!!

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When I was a little girl, our family tradition was always to spend Christmas Eve and share Christmas dinner with an elderly relative or neighbor who would ordinarily be alone, as well as other aunts and uncles on both sides. Dinner was a huge affair and Mom cooked tirelessly, turkey and all the trimmings, then we would all exchange gifts on Christmas Day.

Since our parents, aunts and uncles are gone, we split up the festivities to soften the sting of their absence. We spend Christmas Eve with a dear violinist friend at a church up in the mountains where he and I play for midnight mass. Then Herman and I exchange gifts when we get home (around 2 AM!) in the glow of the Christmas tree. The next day is an intimate dinner with just the two of us, and we know our family is at the table in spirit.


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Growing up our family gathered with my fathers side at the Grandparents for Christmas eve... recently I've been going through and scanning many old family pictures and sharing with my family (and facebook friends) and I realized that that Christmas Eve gathering was so special... certain memebers might or might not show up, but the core family was always there...

In recent times, I have joined with my wife's family for the annual "Santa Party", which we held yesterday... This year was more "trimmed down" than some, but all three kids and the grandkids showed up to exchange gifts, eat sloppy joe, potato salad (my mother in law makes one to die for) cakes, candies, etc... Then "Santa" showed up with gifts for all the kids... Regretably I had just stepped out prior to Santa arriving... cool and returned moments after his final "HoHoHo"... It wasn't too bad until I found out my wife had planted a big smooch on the fat bastard! :yikes:

When my wife said she liked a man in a suit, I didn't know she meant a big-red-suit!

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For the Antanaitis’, Christmas eve was always a bigger day than Christmas, as we carried on a Lithuanian tradition called: Kucious.

The house is cleaned and clean clothes are worn for the evening meal. A handful of fine hay is spread on the table. (This is a reminder that Jesus was laid in a manger.) The table is then covered with a pure white tablecloth, set with plates and decorated with candles (and fir boughs).

One empty plate is set for a relative who has recently passed. (This year, the place setting will be placed next to me as my sister, Maria and I always sat next to each other. I honestly can’t believe her seat will be empty this year. cry)

Meatless dishes are prepared. Dishes typically served include, dried or cooked fish, pickled vegetables, and grains. (However, we always have Ham or Turkey.)

Unleavened bread (Dievo pyragas – “God’s cakesâ€) is also served. The bread is passed around the table to every person – each person breaks off the bread from another person.

Then Daddy would sing “Tyli naktis, sventa naktis.†“Silent Night (Holy Night). And Daddy ALWAYS started to cry. I don’t think he ever got through that song. Now I am the one who sings it but I’ve forgotten a lot of it since Daddy died, as he would help me with the Lithuanian words. There is no way I can sing it this year, just no way.

Then we’d eat.

On Christmas day, Daddy opened up the first gift, which since I was 17, was from me. It was always a Hickory Farms beef stick. Now, I still buy one and place it under the tree, unwrapped. Maria (who was the youngest) opened the next gift. This year, it will be my youngest niece, Katharyn, in honor of my sister. Then, I play Santa and I hand out the gifts. I’ve done that since I can remember.

After any and all presents are opened, we will eat in the afternoon and for dessert, we will sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before the array of goodies are put on the table.

Then later in the evening...LEFT-OVERS! wink

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Aw, thanks, Steve...it's all nice until my brother Mark would say: "Who wants a rock?" And then he'd take mom's over baked rolls and throw one at another brother, who'd throw it back. Then me and Maria would giggle and Daddy would be pissed.

In the meantime, my brother Greg would put a potato wedge in my brother Paul's milk to make him gag. And Daddy would be pissed.

Then Maria would tell a nasty joke and Daddy would be pissed! (With 6 kids, daddy got pissed a lot!) And so on and so forth...Good times!

I wanted to add this Christmas song here since it went with my post. It's Silent Night in Lithuanian. Yeah, you tell me...this isn't the easiest language to learn, so you can hear why I am forgetting the words. This is really beautifully done.

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So many things have changed in our family over the years, however the one tradition that has kept going throughout it all is that the kids would be able to open up one gift on Christmas Eve..which was new pj's, so that we'd have something nice to wear to bed and to be in for pics come Christmas morning. We have kept that tradition going with my niece and nephew smile

I was always excited to get new pj's.....

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Christmas eve was spent on the homefield with my mom's folks (she was an only child).

Christmas day was a road game. We were the only one's with an 8mm camera, so we'd go from house to house (my dad had 4 sisters) and film everybody during the 50's, 60's and early 70's.

A few years ago, my sister and I put together a dvd of the extended family from the hours of old 8mm movie footage. What we ended up with was a family documentary including not only the holidays, but, camping trips, pool parties, Rose Parade excursions, water skiing vacations and much more. My cousins were thrilled to relive their childhoods through the dvd smile

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When we were kids we used to get together with my maternal grandparents and my 2 uncles and their family's for Christmas Dinner which was Roast Lamb,roast chicken, roast potatoes boiled new potatoes (out of my grand mothers garden) peas and beans (also out of said garden) roast pumpkin and roast kumera (a NZ sweet potato) and for dessert Christmas pudding (with sixpences in it) and custard, pavlova and strawberries and lashings of whipped cream.

We were,'t allowed to open our presents, apart from the ones from Santa til AFTER lunch AND the dishes done.

For Dinner we went to my paternal grand parents and had cold meats,usually lamb and ham and salad and more pav.

Over the last few years here the trend has been to have a BBQ either at home or at the beach.

This year my sister and her family and my parents are coming to our place so I gave them the choice...traditional or BBQ. They unanimously chose traditional.

It should be loads of fun, and everyone is looking forward to it very much.

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Everyone has shared such wonderful holiday traditions that I can't help but to adopt a few...

1. Cinnabon

2. Singing Silent Night

3. Roast chicken and lamb

This year I've decided to incorporate barbecued ribs!! I hope everyone here has a safe and Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year!!

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We pretty much have the same traditions as everyone else.

We spend ,drink & eat too much .

We have one tradition that I'm pretty sure is exclusive to our family though.

Christmas eve the kids come over.We all have dinner & sit & make fun of each other. After dinner everyone goes into the living room & the kids decorate the tree (& make fun of each other)

When the tree is finished we turn out all the lights except the tree lights & sit by the fireplace to watch "A Christmas Carol".(& make fun of each other)

After the movie, we make fun of the kids & send them to bed.

Then it's time for my husband & I to shuffle around like zombies trying to cart all of the stashed presents from the den & get them under the tree. (my yongest stepson was always King of the action figures...very easy to buy for)

Christmas eve about 15 years ago we had done all of the above & my husband & I were zoning out exhausted, sitting on the couch. My husband lapsed into his yearly "I don't know why you worry...we always get it all done.." speech ( I do about 93% of it...that's why I worry)

Something didn't look right to me... I said to my husband "Who the hell is that in the back of the manger?"

There is an old Star Trek episode where they encounter an alien (duh) who has this huge bulbous head & can only communicate telepathically...& THERE HE WAS!! In the back of my manger!(Not the actual guy..I'm pretty sure that was an actor)

This bulbous headed alien action figure was very casually hanging out behind the donkey ,giving the wise men his telepathic stink eye! (The king of the action figures must have wanted to add his own personal touch to the nativity.)

My husband & I were exhausted, a couple of glasses of wine into it & it was pretty visually comical.

So that has become our family tradition, The placing of the alien in the manger. (we're a very spiritual family...it's vital to teach these kind of priorities to your kids )

Every year when other families are doing "stupid" things like visiting elderly relatives or singing hymns we're upholding our own tradition. (did I mention there's a good bit of wine involved?)

This year I think we are going to let my new daughter in law do the honors . I can't wait to see her face when we tell her smile

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Razzy, going to the movies on Christmas most certainly is a tradition, as long as it is what your family does and it makes all of you happy.

Actually, it's because of your Christmas tradition that my son worked all weekend. My Anthony Christopher is an usher at our local cinema and is the one who stands at the front of the theater before the film starts and reminds people to turn off their cell phones, tells the the name of the film and it's stars. Everytime, I see him do that I have to fight the urge to jump up applauding and shouting "BRAVO, BRAVO"!

I think one year we will go to the movies on Christmas...we'll see!!

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