My whole life the holidays were always very predictable.
After all, isn’t that the point of traditions? Something that is done year after year and as you participate happy memories flood over you of times past….
At least that is what is supposed to happen.
As I was growing up Christmas always went something along the line of this schedule:
~Wake up and open gifts at home.
~Quickly get dressed and drive the 16 or so miles down the mountain to my grandparent house.
~Arrive there in time for breakfast cooked by my grandfather (we called him pa). The menu always the same
~Lil’ Smoky Sausages
~Tea (hot or cold, your choice for breakfast)
~Clean up breakfast (the kids would usually go off to watch tv or hover over the gifts waiting under the tree)
~Open gifts with the rest of the family
~Mom and Ma (my grandmother) to the kitchen to begin the cooking; Pa to check on the progress of the turkey
~Dad (if he wasn’t at work) to watch football (or sleep in the recliner while claiming to watch football)
~Pa off to take a nap once the turkey was settled
~Kids to play with (or fight over)new gifts
~Christmas meal usually somewhere between 3-4 in the afternoon.
~Relax (or clean up the kitchen) and enjoy the evening
~Load everything up in the car and drive the 16 or so miles back up the mountain home.
As we got older on occasion the schedule would vary a bit and as we all began to go our separate ways to college and such things would be a bit different here and there. Sometimes there would be more of us around the tables and sometimes there wouldn’t be as many but the tradition always seemed to remain the same.
Now that Pa has passed away my mom and dad have taken over much of the cooking but the recipes are all the same. And Ma is still going strong in the kitchen each year as well.
On occasion things would be different for me, like last year, when we went to spend the holiday with Dusty’s family. But even though some things were done a bit differently there (like Mexican food for Christmas dinner) we were still surrounded by family. It was still noisy and fun. And most of all it was still a bit chaotic.
This year, however, due to work related scheduling conflicts, we began some of our own traditions. We, Dusty, the kids, and I, began our own fun things to share, right here in Fort Worth.
One thing I have always (and by “always” I mean the last 3.5 years since that’s how long I have been a mom) tried to do with the kids is a fun count down to Christmas. The first year Collin was only 6 months old so I just did a simple calendar cross off while counting and talking with him as if he understood me. The second year Collin was 18 months old and I was 4ish months pregnant so we made cookies…lots of cookies. Last year, Collin was 2.5 and RaeLynn was 6 months, and it was also our first year here in Texas. I created an activity advent where we got to do a fun holiday related activity each day. We did everything from making Christmas cookies and writing letters to Santa to making our own Christmas cards and sending them out. This year, thanks to my mom, the kids go to open a new book each day, from December 1st to tonight. The kids loved it!
And one of the best parts of the day was the awesome new menu I got to cook. Thanks to my mom for helping me to come up with the menu and for providing most of the food for our dinner this was our menu:
Apricot Glazed Cornish Hen
Honey Rolls and Garlic Parmesan Potatos
Apple and Pumpkin Pie
We also had Green Bean Casserole (but I didn’t manage to get a picture of that)
Dusty said it was so good he had to struggle to stop eating. I have to admit it was pretty good. The kids weren’t as excited but they were more interested in getting back to their toys than they were about eating dinner, or lunch, or breakfast….
We spent much of the day relaxing together as a family and the kids played like crazy with all the toys and wonderful things they received for Christmas. And tonight they are sleeping in freshly made beds on freshly bought sheets and comforters.
While I did miss the craziness that tends to be my family I really enjoyed the quiet day at home. It was nice to not feel like I was being pulled in a million different directions and that we could do things on our own schedule and our own way for the first time. Hopefully, as time goes on we will be able to invite those that we weren’t able to be with here one year so they can enjoy this time with us in a new place, but, for now we will just have to wait and see what 2014 has in store for us.