Blue Ion Holiday Traditions
The holidays are a great time for swapping stories about family traditions – new and old. We decided to share some favorites from some of the members of the Blue Ion team.
As many of you know I am Jewish but for the past 6 years my family has been spread all over the US and we typically do not all get together till Christmas Eve. So for the past 6 years my family of Jews has opened all of our Hanukkah presents on Christmas morning like the rest of the country.
My Cat’s name is Shitty and we have stockings for all the animals over the fireplace. So when Bash learned how to read, he was all like… “Who is Shitty?”.. Maybe not the best story to share now that I think about it…
Christmas decorations are a serious part of the my family’s holiday season – one very important decoration is my mom’s manger set. She puts the manger out on a side table in the living room about a month before Christmas and there are strict rules. For one, we cannot put baby Jesus out until Christmas day – he usually stays tucked in a drawer for safekeeping until then. Also, she puts the wise men very far away from the manger and moves them little by little closer to the manger every day. Well, one year, as per usual, we put baby Jesus away somewhere and when it came to Christmas day we couldn’t find him. Baby Jesus has now been missing for like 5 years. My mom still moves the wise men and sets up the manger with the angels & animals but Jesus never comes to the manger.
We were allowed to open one present from “out of town” on Christmas Eve.
My grandparents (separately now) make their “rounds” every Christmas morning to see all of their 7 grandchildren – share a bite to eat, check out the Christmas decor and presents. Then we all gather (25+people) later that afternoon at my aunt and uncle’s house to have dinner together, exchange presents, give gag gifts and have an oyster roast that night. We also open presents one person or one family at a time so everyone can see – you get a special seat and everything…apparently that’s weird.
For the past 4 years we have camped out at the Festival of Lights the weekend before Christmas. The kids get to experience as many lights and junk food as they can handle for days on end. It often coincides with the Blue Ion Christmas party so it makes for some fun logistical issues.
Growing up, my cousins and I would spend Christmas Eve day at my Gram and Pop’s house to help them cook, bake, wrap presents, pick out Christmas CDs to play, etc. We’d start off the morning with a McDonalds breakfast, then go to the Swedish store to buy sil (pickled herring), which my Pop would break out right before dinner. All who entered their house that night had to try a piece. It’s been an initiation for any friends / new boyfriends + girlfriends. Everybody hates the sil, but we eat it anyway.
Also – my friends from RI have hosted Christmas Eve Eve parties since we were 16… started off being hosted at whoever’s parents were out of town, and then as we got older, we’d host them at bars in Providence. They were always really epic, making for a reallllly hungover Christmas Eve. Joe Jonas (AKA one of the Jonas Brothers) showed up one year, oddly enough.
Our holiday scenery and crew change from year to year, but no matter where we are or who we’re with, some things remain the same….Christmas Eve heading out for a celebratory dinner and leaving Santa a plate a cookies and his reindeer a bunch of carrots (tossed in the yard), Christmas Day kicking off early with the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, coffee/hot chocolate, cinnamon rolls and Canadian bacon, a roaring fire and ripping through presents. After that morning rush, we always do something outside…usually a hike. One of these days I’m hoping we get a white Christmas…it could happen.
I’ve been able to make it back to Lincoln, NE every year since I moved away in ’92. On my mom’s side, we’ve been eating these things called Ham Patties as the main dish for as long as I can remember and no one likes them. I don’t know why we don’t change it up. But its basically baked patties (pork & ham) with some random shit in it and then topped with a pineapple ring (out of the can) and a maraschino cherry… so we have meat, pineapple and cherry. It’s terrible.
Both sides of my wife’s family are full of musical talent. Her dad was in a traveling gospel band (complete with plaid suits and a record cover), and her mom’s side of the family (10+) were also in a gospel band called the “Singing Howells.” Around Christmas, her grandmother hosted the entire family and inevitably singing broke out, complete with her dad on the piano and a shared song list with lyrics (in case you forgot the 3rd verse of Oh holy night)
Every Christmas day at her parents house, we all had to come prepared with two things:
– Several envelopes with donations to charities, ministries, or missionaries
– A verse to read from the bible
Each person talked about their envelopes and why they supported that group this year, then prayed and read the verse (with analysis, please). Only after every person had gone did we open gifts. Was a good way to keep the focus on the “reason for the season” and one that our family will carry on.
Jenn’s grandfather was quite a packrat in his old age. He would gather anything on sale regardless of its utility for himself or the family. During Christmas at his house, we’d all end up with a big trash bag full of the random things he had been collecting during the year(s). Size 13 shoes? Sure. New spatula? Great. Random shaving cream can? Why not! We always enjoyed digging through our bags after we got home and finding a treasure or two.