We try not to cling too tightly to traditions. We realize that, as Hadley gets older and as we (hopefully) add to the family, it's best to stay flexible and avoid the disappointment when we're not able to celebrate something the exact same way every year. Besides, it cuts down on the stress.
However, it's important to have SOME. A few, maybe. Okay, so we may not always go to one of our parents' houses for Thanksgiving (I WILL cook one for more than just our little triad someday; I'm frickin' Martha Stewart, let me show it!) and the running around of Christmas eve and the big day will simplify one day, but for now, we have a few traditions that fill our hearts with love and cheer year after year.
- Christmas movies. It doesn't matter whether we see all of them or not, as long as we see a handful. The Grinch (the original). Charlie Brown (the original). Rudolph (the original...see a trend?). The Bishop's Wife, It's a Wonderful Life, Frosty...they all work. And once in awhile, we add a new-old favorite, like how Dave "found" (I won't say "stole" since we all taped these specials off of TV when we were kids, right?) the Sesame Street Christmas special that we remembered watching the heck out of as kids. And, true to form, Hadley sat through it from beginning to end. So proud. Oh, and what is UP with this new "It's a Wonderful Life" concept?!?!?! Not happy!
- "The Polar Express." I love the movie, I love the Josh Groban song from it, I love the book. But, when Dave worked for a local news station, he and his meteorologist friend were asked to come read it (along with another holiday book) every year at our Barnes and Noble. It was one of the few things we thought, "Awww, they won't want you back for the book-reading" after he left. But, luck had another thing in mind. He was recently tracked down to fill in last-minute and, of course, he said "yes" as quickly as he could. We've seen him go from anxious to cool-as-a-cucumber after many nights of practice reading with Hadman, to the point where he's bringing along his second book in case Barnes and Noble doesn't have it. The student has become the master. Oh, and last year Hadley made a splash greeting his minions...this year...well, he preferred socializing to sitting still. Such is the life of a toddler.
- The tree. I grew up with a fake tree. I don't really mind one way or the other, but let's just say that I would've had a fake one up before Thanksgiving weekend was over, and all other decorating would've been done. (Usually the tree kickstarts my motivation to decorate the rest of the place.) But, our new tradition involves a real one, so this year we picked one up recently as a family. Last year, Dave dragged one home from Lowe's in the middle of the night, so it's an improvement. Next year, we'll probably attempt to cut one down as a family. Lord help us. (And I'm not religious.) But, regardless of how I try to decorate the rest of the place, the tree stays. You go. (Kidding. ;-)) Christmas isn't Christmas without a tree.
- Cards. Whether we're able to write a few lines or just "Best Wishes, the Delleceses" (man, that looks weird pluralized), there's a reason we don't cut this out or email folks faux cards. We're traditionalists. Modern, but traditional. Hey, if Bing can find some time to write out a few cards (Irving Berlin, actually, but work with me here; Bing's the man), can't we? Damn straight, we can. We may pare it down a little each year to just the essential friends and family that we want to touch base with, but we still do it.
- Cookies, cookies, cookies. Even when I'm the only one eating them, I MUST make cookies! I still remember poor Dave wrangling Hadley while I attempted to make a couple kinds (including the time-intensive cutouts...at least, it was time intensive with a 5-month-old hanging around). This year, I'm demanding help from the little munchkin. Plus, he can help me eat them this year. And, yep, they'll still be all-natural/organic/real food...but yummy and full of sugar. Besides, what else can we leave for the good ol' Kris Kringle?
- Santa. Speaking of the big guy, sure, of course Santa visits us. He's been coming since Beardslee first found us...wait, probably before that, even. Why would Santa stop coming? Psht. Craziness.
- BRRRRKFST!!!! (I know that's not how it's spelled, thanks; but that's how I say "breakfast" when it's decadent and super special - with excitement and zero vowels.) Now, I don't mean that I'll make the same thing every year, but know that there will be a delicious breakfast meat (usually it's locally-raised bacon that is to DIE for, but I've recently fallen for Applegate's chicken and apple sausage (although I realize that they also have chicken and maple...and chicken and SAGE?! Man, my Hannaford sucks), so we'll see what we get. Maybe both. As for the rest, scroll down here to see what we had last year -- eggs, a bagel, and so forth. But that's kinda work-intensive for a morning feast, right? I grew up some years having this french toast casserole type of thing that Mom made the night before and popped into the oven to bake off while we opened presents, and I'm considering concocting something similar this year. And I'll probably cut up some sweet potatoes (or plain potatoes) for some home fries, which are an absolute MUST. Nom nom.
- Um. Presents. Why do I type that wracked with guilt?? Probably because we wish we weren't as consumer-driven as we are. And, y'know what? In all honesty...I'd be happy with a few very well thought-out gifts (which my husband is usually awesome at), and that's it. Our joy really comes from mulling over our selections for those we love. We've got a couple of Grinches who tend to be pretty hard to buy for, but for the most part knowing that someone will get lots of use out of something means so much more than stacking my Kia to its roof with crap. That totally sounds ungrateful, but I suppose that's how you become when people overbuy; it means far less and even puts a damper on things.
Pretty classic traditions, right? Maybe one day we'll try Elf on the Shelf...or not. Maybe we'll make ornaments...or not. Maybe we'll get into making a nice holiday ham...or not. The cool thing about traditions is the memories they create, and the continuity they provide in your life. I don't expect to keep all of our traditions, but as long as we keep a few and I have SOMETHING to look forward to, I'm good.
What traditions can you not do without? Anything wacky? Or pretty much traditional (ha, get it? Traditional traditions!)? I'd like to hear!