I'm a fairly untraditional person in many ways. However, I do find comfort and pleasure in certain rituals. Everyone has their own (or none, which is cool too) for this holiday time of the year. Over the 11 years that Eric and I have lived in L.A., certain holiday routines have evolved. As with everything in life, they do vary time to time, but within the general idea.

For one thing, we are secular and celebrate the holidays in fairly non-religious ways. Our families live very far away and most of our friends head out of town. Also, due to my job, I don't get the standard time off, unless I put in a special request that gets approved. I have today off because I always have Friday off. I'll be back at work on Monday.

Some years I put up a small, artificial tree that I enjoy decorating with ornaments, many of which I've had since childhood. That didn't happen this year and it's okay. I was really sick last week and I just wasn't in the mood. I will probably pull the stockings out though, as we have fun filling those up on Christmas eve. Okay, so I broke down and just pulled out a smaller pre-decorated tree that I got at a party last year. I put it by the fireplace and even strung some lights on it. Hung the stockings by the chimney too.

Typically, I ask for Christmas eve off from work and am lucky to be off again this year. We like to go to Solvang, a Danish town a couple of hours northwest of us. (For anyone who saw the movie Sideways, [I haven't yet!] it takes place in and around Solvang). Anyway, we usually spend the 24th walking around the town and window shopping. This year, we are actually going up there later today, with our three dogs, and staying the night. We found a pet-friendly hotel and thought it would be a fun overnight get-away. That way, we can get in plenty of window shopping tomorrow and get back home early in the evening.

As for the night before Christmas, there are a few more traditions. A couple of our neighbors have a party each year that coincides with the arrival of the Magical Christmas Caroling Truck (no, I not kidding!) in our neighborhood. Everyone heads outside to enjoy the festivities and then return to the party for more merriment. After that, we usually build a fire in our fireplace and watch the A Christmas Story marathon. I usually go to bed first, but set my alarm for some weird hour, like 4 or 5am. Eric will put my gifts out after I'm sleeping. I get up after he's gone to sleep and put his stuff out. We really like trying to surprise each other.

After opening gifts on Christmas morning (or afternoon, depending on how late we sleep!), we usually go to the movies. My recommendation for this year is Jesus is Magic, the Sarah Silverman film. It just seems appropriately wrong somehow! Or is that wrongly appropriate? After the movie, we'll try to find somewhere to eat. I think we often end up at an Asian restaurant.

In addition to the Christmasy type stuff, we light the menorah as well, exchanging gifts for eight crazy nights. Many of those nights are silly little things like dreidels or chocolate coins. I've been pretty scroogey and bah-humbuggy this year, but now that I'm not so sick, have done my shopping, and have a couple of days off from work, I'm feeling it a bit more. I'm really looking forward to Solvang, Christmas eve with the neighbors and Christmas day with Eric. I pick up Hanukah candles today.

I won't even get started on New Year's Eve though. Now that drives me crazy! I find it to be so overrated and my expectations always outweigh whatever I end up doing. We actually have a couple of cool ideas this year and if something good pans out, my attitude may change.

So, anyone want to share their holiday traditions with me?


Anonymous said...

We don't have any here. We don't even do the whole tree thing. Chad would work Xmas day if his mom was bitching about it, so we have to spend the day with family...didn't we just spend a whole week with

120BPM said...

Ive never been to Solvang but always wanted to go. When my friends have gone, they always bring me back this waffle from this bakery there, that has rasperry and sugar filling. it is the sweetest thing I have ever tasted in my life. I can only eat a 1/3rd of it in one sitting.

Jodi said...

That's an Aebleskiver! They are great and I plan to have one!

Chris said...

Well, with two kids, we tend to do the traditional big tree, stockings over the fireplace, get up early Christmas morning thing. This year I was a lazy and didn't put up any lights at all outside which, on our street, makes us look like the Scrooges.

My parents are divorced and remarried, so we have three sets of grandparents to visit (all within two hours of our house), but we do a lot of driving around Christmas.

The most annoying Christmas "tradition" we have is that my parents give us money a month before Christmas and we have to buy our own presents (or we buy for the kids), then wrap the gifts and bring them to their house. They get their feelings hurt if you don't bring the presents or want to wait til after Christmas.

For New Years, we usually stay at home and, around 11:00PM, go out and shoot off fireworks in the cul-de-sac with the neighbors. All kinds of fireworks are legal in Alabama, but you aren't supposed to shoot them off within the city limits. There are a lot of scoff-laws on New Years' Eve and 4th of July.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Have a Nice Day, whatever!

madretz said...

Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions. They were a pleasure to read.
My husband and I have managed to create yearly traditions that we always look forward to. For the 5th year in a row, we go out to a nice dinner with another couple and now their children. After dinner, Jimmy and I drive around and look at Christmas lights. I've been particularily scroogy this year, too, but looking at lights always brightens my mood. Our house is totally dull this tree, no lights, nothing. Unusual for me, I've been known to go over the top on more than one occasion. Christmas day we head to the parentals (my in-laws) and spend it with them and any other family members who show up. New Year's Day, we are always in the sierras.

Hope you enjoyed your day in Solvang. I've only been there once driving through for lunch, but it's very quaint and I can imagine very festive during the holidays.

Happy always and merry everything.

K. Marie said...

In the eight years we've been a couple, Josh and I have adopted his family tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve.

We had large, live trees for a few years, before realizing what a pain in the ass they are. The past two years, we've lived in a small apartment and come to our senses. Our tree is a $10, 4-ft, pre-lit dandy that is always happy to be bent to my will and fits nicely into a teensy box come New Year's. We give each other a special ornament every year (a continuation from my childhood). And now with our daughter being old enough to get the Santa concept, we talk up the Claus and set out special gifts for her the night before Christmas.

We also fill each other's stockings on Christmas Eve.

We, too, are secular. I grew up that way -- church being for marriages or funerals. My husband started out going to an Eastern Orthodox church, but his family didn't attend regularly so he stopped going, too. He has a significant problem with evangelical Christianty, whereas I've tried numerous times to "give myself over to Christ," only to feel ridiculous and painfully aware of my isolation. We both feel a strong connection to God (god, goddess -- whatever!) and, myself more than he, would like to find a church we feel comfortable attending.

That said, we both love Christmas and appreciate the holiday spirit, magic and sense of humanitarianism that comes from the celebrations as much as the religous aspects. We have no problem mixing our Jesus and Santa and what-have-you. I think we both would like to incorporate more giving (charity, not gifts) into our Christmas holidays, but our daughter's just a bit young yet for anything more substantial than dropping coins in the red buckets.

Oh, almost forgot -- is getting fatter a tradition?

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