Posted on 21 December 2016
It's that time of year for traditions and celebrating with family and friends. It's funny how traditions keep going throughout the years without you even being aware of why you do certain things at different points in the year. I started thinking about that and what we do as a family that's pretty consistent from year to year and how it all started. It all comes back to family and upbringing. We celebrate Christmas in our house so I came up with a list of a few of our traditions during this time of year.
Trimming the Tree
The season usually begins with bringing all of the boxes down from the attic and decorating the house inside and out. My husband usually works on the outside while the girls and I cover the inside. I feel like the older we get the more we simplify each year. Less is more.... That's the excuse I get from my husband every year. The girls, on the other hand, want to put every ornament we have accumulated in the past 18 years on the tree and everywhere. What makes the day even more special is that we have to listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate as we're doing it.
I will always remember wrapping paper and trim everywhere as my mom would wrap presents. I can't say that I do it any different. I take a few days before Christmas and wrap all the presents at once. It never takes one sitting. I have rolls of paper all over the floor, bags of bows, a separate bag of ribbon and all kinds of tags. Every present has to have a different combination of paper, bow and ribbon. It usually takes place in my family room by the tree while watching TV at night.
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Well not quite ..... but baked in the oven. I always remember there being chestnuts in the house this time of year. I absolutely love them, my girls not so much. They just remind me of this holiday season so they need to make an appearance once a year.
Sounds a bit odd but it is a Croatian tradition to make a cod spread to have on Christmas Eve. This is a process! My husband and my uncle plan to make this every year for the family. It's a trip to the fish market for just the right piece of cod. It has to be boiled and then left to soak for 2 days until it gets really soft. Then you have to use a special tool to mash the cod into a paste with olive oil and garlic. It is the most delicious spread to enjoy with fresh bread and is traditionally had on Christmas Eve.
While my husband is making cod spread with my uncle, I am making nut tarts for dessert. They are like mini pecan pies that are made in mini muffin tins. The thickness of the crust has to be just so and the filling is absolutely delicious. My one daughter, the chef, helps me at every turn. We both really look forward to making them this time of year.
We always attend the family mass on Christmas Eve at 4pm in our parish. They do an acting out of the Nativity by the kids and it's at a perfect time. It's right before our big Christmas Eve dinner and we don't have to stay up for midnight mass and we can hang out on Christmas morning without having to rush.
Our Christmas Eve dinner usually involves seven kinds of fish. We actually switch up the holidays every year. We are not one of those families where a different member has the same holiday each year. This year Christmas Eve happens to be at our house so I am preparing my menu to make sure we have seven fish represented. Being that our family is from the Croatian coast, this meal is one we are accustomed to.
Preparing for Santa
Before we go to bed on Christmas Eve, we make sure we leave chocolate chip cookies for Santa with a glass of milk. My husband and I make sure we take a few bites of cookie and drink some milk while we fill up their stockings before we go to bed.
We Come Down Together
The girls know that no one comes down the stairs before everyone is up and ready to go down together. The girls are older now so they usually get up on their own but on Christmas morning, they come in to our bed and wait until we are all ready. We wait until Christmas morning to open all of our presents in our pajamas. I hope this tradition never changes.
Eggs and Bacon for All
After we finish opening our gifts, I start collecting all the wrapping paper everywhere, because I'm a neat freak, while my husband starts our yummy big breakfast consisting of omelettes, toast and bacon.
Regardless of the holiday you celebrate, you probably have some really great traditions of your own. All I can say is that I think it's really important to keep them going and create new ones of your own along the way. Hopefully our kids will be reminded of them as they grow up.