Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Traditions {Under A Paper Moon}

I hope that everyone had a very wonderful and Merry Christmas! I'm a bit behind on posting this, but due to my unpreparedness this year, Christmas Eve day was a blur. I raced around doing last minute shopping for stockings and making preparations for Christmas dinner; I have never before been in a store as it CLOSES on Christmas Eve, but I was this year! Done just in the nick of time.

I am thrilled that everyone loved reading the Holiday Traditions series as much as I did. And since you asked (or, well, Blair and Courtney did...) here are my Holiday Traditions.

The Tree- December 2008

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

We started the countdown to Christmas by lighting our advent wreath every night at dinner. I was ecstatic by the time we reached the pink candle, not only because I loved pink, but because it finally felt like I could see Christmas on the horizon.

We always attended afternoon mass on Christmas Eve; we would have a low-key meal (chili, etc.) that evening and then would open our family gifts; we always opened in order of youngest to oldest.

When we woke on Christmas morning, the first thing we did was grab our stockings from the banister. We would open the stockings on the staircase as we waited for my dad to set up the video camera. When my dad was ready (which felt like forever at times!) we were then allowed into the family room to see our presents from Santa. Santa's gift were always very artfully displayed (not wrapped) and my two brothers and I each had our own areas where our presents would be placed.

Christmas breakfast consisted then, as now, of my mom's popovers. Later in the day, we would enjoy our big Christmas meal.

Christmas 1988

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

We always left a sweet treat, usually cornflake wreaths, and orange juice for Santa; my mom, like my brothers and I, is allergic to milk, but it never seemed strange to me that we left orange juice. I think my parents told us that Santa got tired of always having to drink milk, and I never questioned that. And, of course, we always left carrots for the reindeer.

My parents played the roll of Santa well; in the mornings, we would find nibbled traces of carrots left by the reindeer and a note from Santa. My mom recently told me that when I started to get suspicious of the handwriting on the notes (my mom's,) our neighbor began writing them instead.

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

They have changed as we have gotten older, although there are many things that have stayed the same too. When my parents moved to Tennessee about 11 years ago, we, for the first time in in fifteen years, ended up living in the same city as relatives. Our holidays changed as we incorporated my aunt and uncle's family into our celebration.

We began hosting my cousins, aunt, uncle, and occasional family friends for Christmas Eve dinner at our house, which replaced our big meal on Christmas Day. We also began attending midnight mass once my youngest brother was old enough, and that is perhaps my most favorite change in our traditions.

My family still tries to exchange our family gifts on Christmas Eve, mostly at my youngest brother's and my insistence, but it doesn't happen every year now. Santa still comes on Christmas Day, although for the last five years my mom has been declaring that we are far too old to continue this tradition.

I was in college when it dawned on me that it was rather unfair my parents didn't receive gifts from Santa (because family gifts were opened on Christmas Eve,) so since that time, my brothers and I (and for the last number of years E) have been playing Santa to them.

Presents under the tree- December 2008. Please excuse the concrete floors; we recently tore out our carpeting and are getting ready to re-floor.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Not really yet. Since high school, I have driven around to look at Christmas lights each year- sometimes with my friends or brothers, and it is something E and I have done during the Christmases we've been able to spend together. A few years ago, E and I discovered a house in the area where we lived that we refer to as "The Crazy Light House." We took my family there when they came to visit that year, and when we were "home" two weekends ago, we made a point to drive by the house!

I imagine that implementing our own traditions into the holiday will continue to evolve in the coming years.

December 2006- My youngest brother and me at "The Crazy Light House"

Have you ever gone caroling?

When I was in ninth grade, the entire group of girls that hung around together (something like around 30 of us...) held a big holiday gift exchange. After we had opened our gifts, we decided to go caroling. I think being amongst such a large group gave everyone more confidence to sing to complete strangers.

Also, for a reason I can absolutely not remember now, I went caroling with the other girls on my cheerleading squad (err, yep... cheerleader here.) All I do remember was caroling on the front porch of my crush's house and nearly passing out when his mom told us to wait because she wanted to get him to listen to us.

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

I always love and crave peppermint during the holidays- peppermint bark, peppermint mocha lattes, and peppermint ice cream (although I haven't had any in years!) all feed that craving. Other must haves are spiced nuts, cornflake wreaths, and other homemade goodies. And, every year, it puts me in the best mood to see Starbucks' red holiday cups.

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

For our Christmas meal pork tenderloin or turkey, roasted or mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and cranberry salad are staples, but we always have different side dishes and desserts that make it into the rotation.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

I always fall in love with different schemes and styles each year! I do love metallics in holiday decor, so it's probably not surprising that my tree is decorated in silver, gold, and bronze (as well as shades of green and white.) My favorite ornaments are those that glitter, sparkle and reflect light, as well as the ones that hold special memories. I still believe there's not much better than falling asleep next to a lit and softly glowing Christmas tree.

White lights or colored lights?

I absolutely love white lights, but I have a fondness for colored lights as well; they remind me of being little. I thought they were absolutely the most beautiful things, and I was so resistant when my mom decided to switch to white on our tree!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

While there are always many things I want do during the holiday season (and never is there enough time to do them all,) driving around to look at Christmas lights is the one thing that I absolutely must do every year.

Me & E at "The Crazy Light House"- December 2006

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

Hmmm, this really is a tough one because there are so many. But, I must say one of my very favorite Christmases was in 2006. E and I had just married in October of that year, and he immediately left for three months of training before his deployment in January of '07. Luckily, he was given holiday leave, and he came home for our first married Christmas.

His dad and stepmom, as well as my parents and brothers, came to Texas to celebrate with us. E's mom and sister came too, a few days after Christmas, to share a belated holiday. I don't remember much of the gifts that were given or all the food that we ate, but the thing that still lingers with me is a feeling of contented peace.

We did traditions differently that year, in part due to the blending of two families celebrations and in part because of the timing of things, but it felt like the most perfect Christmas. I still can picture just the way the house looked, filled with people we love, and I remember feeling almost overwhelmed by the happiness I felt. Not only were we able to celebrate that first Christmas together, at our house, but we were able to celebrate with both our families.

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

family, holiday music and lights!


Thanks to Kimberlee, Tina, Stephanie, Cassandra, Blair, and Courtney for participating in this series and sharing their Holiday Traditions with us. If you missed any of their interviews, be sure to check them out here.

Thank you to all of your for reading too, and I hope to have a another round of interviews with more bloggers next year. I will be around this next week, but posting will likely be sporadic as I spend time with family for the next few days. Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season as well!


Courtney said...

I giggled that you left orange juice out for Santa. And I LOVE your tree Courtney. No worries about squeezing everything in at the final hour, you did it and memories were made. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

kd said...

I hope this year was great, too! Miss you! Did you get the boys anything special?

Chasity @ Haute Mommy Blog said...

Thank you for sharing your Christmas traditions! I love reading about how other families celebrate, and getting new ideas for how we can add to our holidays.

I linked to your blog from Courtney's earlier this week & I have added it to my favorites. Can't wait to read more from another Texas girl!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This was so much fun to read! I hope you are enjoying a most lovely Christmas week!!

Blair Friedeman said...

Courtney-thank you so much for sharing! I love your family pictures--so cute. Your tree is quite beautiful and my mom and I had a very similar Christmas eve experience--the store was just insane. Hope your Christmas was everything you hoped for. I also really love those Jo Malone holiday images! xx blair

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

hope you had a fab christmas courtney! the trip to the crazy light house looks so fun! we drove past a similar one (on a smaller scale) the other day :) your wrapping is beautiful as well and so creative! Tina xx

Jane Flanagan said...

Merry Christmas Courtney!

please sir said...

Peppermint bark is my fav! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Anonymous said...

How funny---my Santa did the same thing, never wrapping presents but instead displaying them in beautiful arrangements! Maybe this was just my mom and dad getting lazy in the wrapping paper department, but there was something about coming downstairs to a big gleaming pile of toys...

Thanks for sharing your traditions Courtney. Hope you had a beautiful holiday this year---I know you and E are in the middle of some changes but I hope you got a little break from the stress and had some time to celebrate the season :)

alissa said...

This was so cute! Really fun.
ps- fellow cheerleader here...

MIMILEE said...

Delightful, Courtney!

Happy New Year to you! May 2009 bring you much JOY and Happiness!