This month has been such a whirlwind that it hasn’t really felt like Christmas. Some of our favorite December traditions, like visiting Peddler’s Village or Franklin Square, fell by the wayside due to busy schedules. We also chose not to get a tree this year because it would have meant rearranging a lot of furniture and then dealing with a mischievous cat stealing ornaments on a daily basis. Although we did hang lights around the apartment and lit plenty of balsam tree candles, it’s just not quite the same. However, the one thing I can always count on is a truly festive experience heading back home for the holidays. To get into the spirit, I thought I’d list a few of our favorite traditions.
When it comes to Christmas treats, we love to make sugar cookies cut into holiday shapes and decorated with festive sprinkles. The house fills with the most delicious aroma while they bake. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, we sit around the kitchen table and enjoy them with hot chocolate.
In Chatham, the whole town participates in Luminaria on Christmas Eve. As a kid, I think I just assumed every town in America did this, because it was what I knew! As the sun began to set, we would help fill white paper bags with kitty litter (to help weigh them down) and placed a candle in the center of each bag. Houses line their front curbs with the illuminated bags, which creates the most beautiful effect all the way down the street.
After Christmas Eve dinner, our family then jumps into the car, turns on the Christmas radio station, and drives around to see the Luminaria and Christmas lights. Since we do this every year, we’ve quickly learned which neighborhoods in our town have the best light displays.
Our family will also do the search for the Christmas pickle. Although many shops claim this is a German tradition, it’s apparently just a marketing strategy for Americans. The premise is that one person (presumably a parent) will hide the pickle ornament somewhere in the Christmas tree. Then everyone else races to find the pickle first, because the winner gets to open the first present. Whatever the origin may be, it’s an amusing, quirky tradition that we enjoy.
We end Christmas Eve by opening one present each and then watching a Christmas movie before bed. In the morning, our stockings will be filled with fun things like holiday candy, body products, and small knickknacks. We’ll open the rest of the presents under the tree and spend a leisurely day relaxing and enjoying our new gifts. In a way, I think I may look forward to Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day, because there are so many traditions to look forward to!