Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How do you celebrate Christmas?

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?


Holly Gruszka said...

I might have to write you a separate e-mail because this might get long-winded. You know me. But growing up, a lot of our traditions were ones leading up to Christmas as well. It wasn't until I met my husband that I started taking part in his family traditions. He comes from a large family, so the adults to a pollyanna as do the children - it is much anticipated by the kids as you can probably imagine. But a fun tradition to carry on. They also do the big Polish meal (which I'm not a huge fan of either), but we also do the oplatki as well which is a fun tradition. I come from a small family, so we have been having my Mom over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we go to Mass. I have also been doing a breakfast casserole to have Christmas morning. So a lot of our traditions revolve around food. Maybe your kids could each choose something special to have either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This has been on my mind as well as I'd like to start creating our own family traditions too.

Katie @ Wildwood Creek said...

Kolachki is a word you don't hear too often any more. My heritage is kind of a Heinz 57 mixture, but I grew up eating delicious kolachki. Poppy seed is my favorite.

Lisa @ Lisa Moves said...

my husband's family emigrated from Italy in the late 70s, so they do the Feast of the 7 Fishes, and it is a feast of EPIC proportions. Delicious, but we seriously eat for about four hours.

As a kid we opened stocking gifts on Xmas Eve, then opened gifts under the tree Xmas morning, then went to grandma's during the day. I still do that Xmas day, but now on Xmas Eve we spend the day with my inlaws, doing the Feast.

I would actually like to have a bit more time with my own family, to start our own traditions, but that hasn't really happened, since we spend a lot of time driving at Xmas.

Cassie Bustamante said...

we are always just with my family on christmas eve.... we do gifts with them, and if we are able to we go to church together. then chris and i wait for the kids to go to sleep, crack open a bottle of wine, and play santa. then we usually snuggle and watch a movie. it's always pretty low key, but i love it like that.

Carol-Anne said...

This is the first year we're not making a big meal for dinner. But we always have a big, spectacular brunch and that will continue. The I think we're gonna light a fire, open some wine and watch movies. I prefer a low-key Christmas day and lots of excitement in the 'lead up'.