On Wednesdays, my youngest usually goes to preschool for three hours. Today, I had grand plans of finishing my Christmas shopping and going to a spinning class while she was at school. Instead, I'm cuddling on the couch with a sick toddler in between doing mountains of laundry and watching the puppy slowly undecorate and chew up the ornaments on the lower branches of the tree.
If you've been following along the last few days, you know that creating and following traditions is something important to me. While we have many traditions leading up to Christmas, we don't have many traditions related to the actual day of Christmas. I'm wondering if you can help me by sharing some of your traditions.
As a child, we always had a Christmas eve dinner at my grandparent's house. My grandparents came to the US in the 1940's from Czechoslovakia. So, my grandma would make a big, traditional Slovak dinner. Some of the foods I remember included: sauerkraut soup with little dumplings and mushrooms; oplatky - a Communion-type wafer stamped with a nativity scene and dipped in honey; bobalki - dough balls with poppyseeds; pirohy - dumplings with various fillings; polish sausage; and kolachki - pastries with nuts, apples, poppyseeds, or cheese.
We would go to a Christmas eve candlelight church service and then return to my grandparent's house to open family presents.
Then we would go home and in the morning, open presents from mom and dad and Santa. My parents always had a big Christmas party with lots of friends and family later in the day.
As an adult, we usually head into the mountains on Christmas Eve to go sledding. Afterwards, we come home, eat a simple dinner and read the Christmas story. The kids open one present (always matching pajamas) and off to bed. Our church doesn't have services on Christmas Eve, but I'm thinking of going to a church that does for the evening because I think of Christmas Eve as such a spiritual and special time. Attending church and singing hymns is something I have missed on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas day, we open presents. We don't live by family, so we Skype the grandparents so they can get in on the merriment. Later in the day we would head to a friend's house for Christmas dinner. These friends had graciously adopted us into their family for holidays, knowing that we didn't have family in town.
Unfortunately, these friends recently moved to Texas. This leaves me wondering what we should do for Christmas. For Christmas Eve, I don't love the Slovak food my grandma served, nor do I know how to make it. I was thinking about incorporating a few of the foods I liked (the kolachki pastry). The other side of my family is Italian. The Italian tradition is to serve a dinner of seven fish on Christmas Eve. Maybe I could try that?
I want Christmas day to be special for my children...something more than simply opening presents and hanging out around the house....especially since we won't be celebrating with extended family. What do you do to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? What do you cook? How do you spend the day?