I don’t know how it’s possible that it’s December already and that Christmas is just around the corner – this year has flown by. But there’s no denying it’s the holiday season, so today’s 10 on Tuesday prompt is favorite traditions. I think I have a few of those…
1. Decorating the Christmas tree. Nearly all of my ornaments are from my childhood, are gifts from friends, or have been picked up on my travels, so unpacking and hanging them is a trip down memory lane that never fails to make me smile.
2. Baking. Many of the cookies I make at the holidays probably could be eaten at any time of the year, but there’s something about filling my entire kitchen with an obscene variety of baked goods that is extraordinarily festive. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, these are the family favorites.)
3. Watching Christmas cartoons. I’ve always loved these (especially the Rankin-Bass claymation specials from the late 1960s and early 1970s) and a few years ago – back when we were still next-door neighbors – my friend Megan and I started a tradition of hosting a sing-along cartoon party. It’s coming up in just a couple of weeks and I can hardly wait!
4. Driving around to look at the lights. I am a huge fan of incredibly tacky light displays, and I love driving around, singing along to holiday tunes, and seeing all of the sparkly, over-the-top goodness. I don’t get to do this as much now that I don’t have a car anymore, but I do still try to fit it in somehow. (Pro tip: Bayonne, NJ, is – hands down – the best place I have ever done this.)
5. Drinking Bailey’s on Christmas Eve. I have no idea when or how this became a family tradition, but it’s become so ingrained that I remember digging under the tree one year looking for package we knew (from past years) contained a bottle when we realized there wasn’t one in the fridge.
6. Adding the holiday music back to my iTunes/iPhone. In the “off season” I keep the holiday genre unchecked, but right after Thanksgiving, I load it all up. I understand that some people hate seasonal music and find it hopelessly cheesy, but I love it.
7. Drinking gingerbread lattes. Most of the year, I avoid Starbucks, but when the magical red cups appear, I become a devotee overnight. How much do I love them? I’ve written not one, but two posts about them in the past. They’re like little delicious cups of Christmas crack.
8. Participate in “adopt a family.” When I was growing up, our church had a special tree with ornaments that listed the gift wishes for needy members of the parish, and picking out these presents was always a part of our holiday shopping. It’s a tradition I’ve missed over the years, since I’m no longer a churchgoer, but this year my colleague Julia invited a bunch of us to join in with her. I’m excited for the opportunity to make someone’s Christmas brighter – and we’re having some extra fun with it, too, by having a wrapping party at the office on Friday.
9. Getting Christmas cards. I’m not gonna lie – I mostly still send out cards just so I get them in return. I’ve always loved getting everyone’s annual updates, and I hope it’s not something that fades away now that we’re in the always-connected Facebook world.
10. Waiting at the top of the stairs. This is a long-defunct tradition, but remains one of my fondest holiday memories. When we were kids, we were not allowed to go downstairs on Christmas morning until Dad had gone down first, to “make sure Santa came.” As an adult, I now understand that this was my parents’ way of keeping the chaos on a time schedule they could live with, but I still remember that giddy feeling of anticipation as Dad headed down.
What are your favorite traditions? And what have I forgotten?