Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Traditions [somewhat] Unique to our Family

Welcome to this week's Friday Five. If you are new here, Friday Five is nothing more than a short (hahaha) list of five random(ish) things. They might be favorites, thankfuls, pet peeves, or frankly whatever else strikes me on any given Friday. 

Today is my grandma's birthday. It's been eleven years since she returned home to our Heavenly Father and I still think of her almost daily... especially at Christmas time. So, this weeks edition of Friday Five is dedicated to my Grandma. And, fittingly so, 3 out of the 5 things on this list are traditions that my family celebrates because of her. 

Our fun (and perhaps unique) Christmas Traditions:

1. Hallmark Ornaments - When I was a small child my grandparents started this fun tradition. Each Christmas they would give us an ornament to add to the tree. And we're not just talking any old ornament, but one hand picked from Hallmark's annual collection. They did this for all of their grandchildren. And when my children, their great-grandchildren, were born, they included them too. I'll bet grandma bought close to 40 Hallmark ornaments that last Christmas she was with us.  - Since her passing, my parents have picked up the tradition with their kids and grandkids. Each ornament has a story and a memory. And, after all these years we have quite the collection!

2. New Years stockings - On New Year's Eve, after the celebrating has commenced, we empty any remaining Christmas candy from our stockings and re-hang them on the mantel so Santa's wife, known as Mrs. Claus or Dina, can come refill them with more "sensible" treats like fruit and nuts. She also leaves some of the more "needed" items that Santa tends to look over in favor of toys and fun stuff. For example, she might leave socks, or books, or, umm... headphones that Santa forgot to leave with the iPods. ;-)

I've been told this is a tradition brought by my ancestors from Germany. I can't really verify its origin however (at least through a quick google search). I have found variations of it throughout the world (ie: Lady Long Fingers, Santa Croupee, and Le Petit Bonhomme Javier), but none exactly the same as ours.

3. Pinata - My earliest memories include gathering around a candy-filled pinata in my grandparents basement at our family Christmas party. I remember my aunts tying a dish towel over my eyes and spinning me around. As I got older, that pinata sure got a lot wigglier. More than once I sent chunks of ceiling falling to the floor. I'm pretty sure I'm the reason they finally slapped an age limit on all the candy-whacking fun! All of my children have had the opportunity to participate in this fun tradition. This year will be the last year my youngest will get to swing that bat. :(

4. Gag gifts!- My husband's grandma was a hoot! And, though she is gone, her legacy lives on in this fantastic, much anticipated tradition. Every year on Christmas Eve, we gather as a family to laugh, and tease, and share stories of each other's adventures - uh, er, mishaps? My mother and father in law present each of us adult children with gifts beautifully wrapped in newspaper and masking tape. (If you're really lucky, you end up with the comic page! Whoo, hoo!) Then, each of us children present our own children with their gifts. The catch? This is not for the faint of heart. You've got to have a good sense of humor, a vivid imagination, and a birth certificate that vouches that you are at least 12 years old. Why? Because this is not child's play! Each gift is carefully considered and comes with its own unique story. For example, the first year my son got his driver's license, he ripped the mirror off the side of my car. For part of his gag gift that year he received the broken mirror. (It has now been re-wired and functions as a lamp in his room.) My niece and my daughter received matching pairs of granny-panties one year. Why? Because we were tired of seeing their cracks when they bent over. I think my all-time favorite was when another one of my nieces got a hand knit "nut cozy" and a set of nuts... (yeah, that was the year it was so cold her "nuts froze off!" Lol!) Other gifts we've given/received: Rogaine hair-growth treatment for men, a lug-able-loo (aka, a port-a-pottie), anti-snoring strips, a stud-finder, etc.

5. Taffy-pull  - This is the big tradition I wish we'd had when I was a kid but am every so happy to have married into it. Each Christmas season my mother and father-in-law host a family candy making day. While the young kids frost sugar cookies, the older kids and women make a mess of the kitchen making all kinds of candy. From year to year our candy selections vary with one exception: old fashioned taffy. This is the men's & older children's game! If you've never pulled taffy you should give it a try at least once... and by once, I mean, you probably should watch someone do it at least once. That sugary concoction boils up to about hand-melting temperature and then what do they do? They butter up their hands and pass it back and forth to stretch it. Sounds pretty uneventful, right? Wrong. You've never experienced funny till you've watched grown, adult, tough-men slather their hands with butter, ooh and ah and grunt and grimace, then grunt in satisfaction as they pass the glob on to the next victim so they can give their hands a break, lather up with another round of butter, and do it all over again. Family Tradition Fabulousness at its BEST!

What are your traditions? I hope you have at least a few. And if you don't? Well, its never to late to start some.

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