We're talking traditions here people.
Usually they revolve around what I stuff in my face every year about this time. But other traditions are there as well.... and they pack a lot less calories. You already know about our love of the Nutcracker. You've heard about our addiction to Christmas movies (the ORIGINAL "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", Irving Berlin's "Holiday Inn" & "White Christmas", Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" & "Mr. Krueger's Christmas", "Once Upon a Christmas" is one I love thanks to my mom---same goes for "Unlikely Angel" starring Dolly Parton, ALL of the Charlie Brown Christmas specials, Jim Henson's "Emett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" thanks to my grandparents, "The Muppet Christmas Carol" as well as "A Muppet Family Christmas", ALL of the retro claymation Christmas TV specials including "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Bells of St. Mary's"---Bing Crosby really ushers in the season, the entire "Santa Clause" trilogy, VeggieTales in "The Star of Christmas", and of course "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"... well, frankly cause I have loved Henry Winkler since his days as Fonzie when Happy Days was in re-runs!).You've even heard about how much we enjoy C. S. Lewis at Christmas. But there are plenty of other traditions we just cannot do Christmas without.
Like, the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional each year. We try to attend it at our local Stake Center, but if we miss it for some reason, I love--nay, ADORE that it too is available through the LDS Church's website!
Also, we HAVE to visit Christmas Carol Lane.
Every year, since I can remember as a kid, we've gone to CCL (which is a local neighborhood that not only features Christmas lights, but each home is assigned a different Christmas carol for their theme. The song's title is displayed on a painted sheet of plywood and anchored in the yard. Then that house's lighted decor depicts a scene or representation of that Christmas carol). Nowadays it's not as packed as it was in my youth....not as many houses participate. But we still go, and enjoy the homes that do. When we visit, we join the others, who's cars crawl through the streets, singing each carol as we get to the next house. So much fun. Even better if we actually get a white Christmas on top of it all. (You know the deal, right? That magical glow off the snow covered lights?) Yep, an absolute fave!
Church Christmas parties. They have the ability to draw people out of their homes that you don't see on a regular basis, for one reason or another. It's a chance to see familiar faces who may have taught us when we were children... or elegantly aged faces who are usually home-bound (or at least are when the weather gets cold & dangerous). It's a time to hug, reminisce, and share gratitude with each other.
Christmas Lighted-Boat Parade. So many floating lights and funny ways of displaying them. I remember in my early years how bored I'd get after a while. But as I've gotten older, I've grown to appreciate this local tradition quite a bit... as long as the car heater's in sound, working order!
Like I mentioned before, oftentimes those traditions are in what we eat.
Favorite recipes for dishes & goodies can transport us to times when things may have felt better or less challenging.... when more of our family was still here with us.... when family perhaps got along better.... when Christmas Eve still held great power when getting children to bed.... when the very reason for Christmas itself was not under attack.
Some favorite foods/goodies that really take us back are:
Blue Hawaiian Punch (aka "Tidy Bowl Punch"). Meats & cheese platters. Aunt Diane's deviled-eggs. Homemade Idle Isle candies. Homemade peanut brittle (thank goodness Mr LKP inherited mad-peanut brittle skills from his dad). My mom's Emerald Salad. Mr Salty pretzels with sour cream. Almonds & hazelnuts via the old school metal nutcrackers! Ribbon candy. Oranges/tangerines. Chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Cinnamon rolls in the shape of a tree. Fantasy fudge (not for me, but because it lights up my husband's face since his grandma always made it, as well as pecan pie, for him). Divinity (thanks again to my mom AND Aunt Diane). Marzipan (not only yummy, but it's sooooo fun to look at!). Caramel corn/popcorn balls.
Looking at this list, I'm not only hungry but I'm realizing that I technically shouldn't eat ANY of it! (Stupid allergies.) But for Christmas, I may have to indulge anyways and just suffer for several days after. (Not like Christmas comes along every day... and I may have to say goodbye to some Christmas traditions, but food I'm not thinking should be one of them!)
Another tradition that I'm loving, despite it being new to us in the past couple years, is a gift giving tradition. Thanks to Dandee and her family, we too now use the Want Need Wear Read method of gift giving. Helps reign in all the overspending during the season, as well as keeps Mini-Me grounded and practical in her expectations. (Granted there are stockings still stuffed to the brim, and Santa leaves gifts under the tree, but it takes a GI-HUGE-O burden off mom & dad's shoulders.) To assist with this tradition in the past, I bought some of Dandee's wicked-cool tags from her etsy shop, and they. were. so. cute! (This year she's outdone herself with some cute wooden tags with golden eyelets as well.)
If they survive until next year that would be cool too. But if not, then I'll just be sure to set aside some petty cash to pick up some of Dandee's wooden tags next go-round. (Or make some others, I guess.)
Why is all this rambling here?
Well, I mention it all because we've noticed, especially this year, that a lot of the Christmas stand-bys Mr LKP & I have enjoyed, look forward to, and kinda count on each year have gone missing.
For instance, fewer houses on Christmas Carol Lane are dressed up each year.
Plus, some family friends of ours have had a HUGE welded-iron star that's above their house year-round since they built the house. At Christmas, the star is lit and can be seen for MILES! ...Yeah, there's no star this year.
Another house in the area has ALWAYS had the word "NOEL" in HUMONGOUS lighted letters, either in their yard or on their roof. They live on the side of a hill, and their NOEL has been a Christmas landmark for decades. This year, there's no NOEL.
In my dad's town there's a house I've been enamored with since I was 4 or 5 years old. Whenever there's been snow, this family would carve out & paint a snow frog family on their front lawn! No lie. It was amazing! Unfortunately the frog house was sold this past year and the new owners are not continuing the tradition.
Add to that my heartbreak that came when I realized that I haven't any good picture windows for painting Snoopy scenes like the last few Halloweens OR last Christmas in this new house.
So, part of me is mourning these losses.
I guess I want to document what's so great about this season so that I also don't forget.
I understand that if we want traditions then the responsibility is ours to continue them. I cannot control whether or not the NOEL or the bright star are up in their original locations, nor which family moves away from what house, or who may choose just not to put up their Christmas carol paraphernalia.
But I can be sure that our family's little traditions are defended and carried on to the next generation. Basically just seeds for the memories they'll create, and the traditions they emotionally cling to.
We don't want to lose them.
Traditions draw us closer together.
So, there you have it. Some more of my favorite things at Christmas time... as well as WHY they're important to us, and WHY I've noted them here.
What are your favorite traditions, that you don't want to lose?