Ahh, Christmas! 'Tis the season for creating and preserving precious memories!
It is also the one time a year that everyone observes time honored traditions and endures other subtle forms of torture!
Traditional Goertzen Christmas Eve paraphenalia
We have several time honored traditions that have become a part of our Christmas celebrations. Some we remember the origins of and others have somehow just evolved over time and no one can pinpoint exactly when they began or why. As the years go by and the kids get older, the implementation of some of our more juvenile traditions are met with some eye rolling and guffawing, yet at the heart of it, they are actually insistent on us keeping them.
In our family, traditions come in many shapes and forms. Some are just plain old silly and funny; some involve stalking a fat man in a red suit; some include small, nocturnal rodents; some are scrumptiously sinful; some are just downright embarrassing. And some are meaningful and sentimental while others are rather torturous affairs to endure. But all are what create the precious memories that we carry with us as the years melt away. Here's just a few of our tried and true traditions.
We always kick off the Christmas season by watching the Tim Allen Santa Clause movies.
Every Christmas Eve we attend a special candlelit Christmas Eve service at our church. This year I was not well enough to attend...however that disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that most of Canada was housebound too albeit due to the copious amount of snow that plunged our world into a blustery white wonderland.
After church, we always return home to feast on mile high nachos, play games and open Christmas Eve Jammies. I'm not sure where the nachos evolved from nor how or when we discovered that Taylor is the maestro of nacho building. Believe me, you haven't had nachos until you've had Taylor's...however, one must be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait for them. Apparently perfection takes awhile. That's our nacho chefs excuse anyway!
I have opened Christmas Eve Jammies for as long as I can remember. It is a tradition I have carried over from my childhood and continued with my children.
Somehow the opening of Christmas Eve Jammies has evolved into a 'themed event' over the years. Every year I try and do a 'pajama theme'. Several years ago, I bought all the guys Superman PJs. Last year every one got Jammies with skulls - somewhat morbid now that I think about it! This year I decided everyone could use a good old pair of 'old fashioned' jammies - the 2 pieced, button up, Grandpa kind.
Looking hot, Grandpa!I buy for the kids and Graham. Graham buys for me. I like an element of surprise and so I keep the theme top secret. Not even Graham knows -which means that my jammies don't generally 'match' the rest of the family...however, my husband picks out the best pajamma's in the world! And I wouldn't want his creativity hemmed in by a theme, and quite frankly, trying to buy themed pjs for me would probably completely stress him out. After all, most years we have to wait to open our Christmas Eve jammies while he quickly wraps mine up at the eleventh hour!
Our shame on us tradition is our yuletide log. The one we take a blow torch to in order to light. Truly shameful when you learn that our yuletide log is ceramic and our fireplace is gas.
We use our fireplace exactly twice a year. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And every single Christmas Eve, while Graham, with Taylor assisting, spend a good 45 minutes trying to light our fireplace,
I nervously barricade myself behind the couch and call out a variety of helpful suggestions,
"Really, it's okay. We don't need a fire." or "I don't think this is a very good idea."
Eventually, they are successful in setting our yuletide log ablaze. Of course not before each of us has at some point during the harrowing saga pointed out the obvious...
"We have to remember to figure this out BEFORE Christmas Eve."
Somehow we never remember.
A number of years ago, due to the magic of the internet, we were able to stalk, er, I mean track Santa on Christmas Eve. I can still vividly remember the wonder of the whole Santa phenom from my childhood. It's kinda sad when that bubble is burst. But it is wonderful to re-live the magic and wonder once again through the eyes of your children. Through the Santa tracker we have gotten much enjoyment from watching the kids excitement as they monitor him on line.
However, by last year, the novelty of it had kind of worn off. Taylor still believed (lol) however Parker was skeptical and Avery was still too young to be overly impressed. So I was pretty excited to discover the newest internet Santa magic. The Portable North Pole from which Santa sent you a personalized message. Taylor and Parker were duly impressed and 'oohh'd and ah'd. Avery just quietly watched. A little too quietly actually. After watching, I excitedly asked her what she thought.
Without moving, she turned her big blue eyes on me and quietly whispered,
"That made me a little nervous."
I think next year we'll just stick to our basic stalking technique.
Our jokes on you tradition revolves around my husband and me. Surprise. Surprise. Our first married Christmas, Graham really made a huge fuss over one particular tv commercial. Whenever the ad for Terry's Chocolate Orange came on he would go on and on and on about how good they were! And then he'd mutter something about it being too bad they only sell them in the US. I took note and searched high and lo before finding one in Canada. I was so impressed with myself and excited to surprise him with this delectable delight he so expressely exclaimed over! Imagine my delight when he broke into the biggest grin upon opening it on Christmas morning. Feeling incredibly pleased with myself, I proudly exclaimed,
"I found you a Terry's orange. Isn't that awesome! Don't you just love me?"
To which came his reply,
"You thought I was serious?"
Apparently all his overexagerated fuss over it had nothing to do with some sort of outrageous craving but was his rendition of total sarcasm and mocking of the corny commmercials. And the fact that he thought the orange and chocolate combination actually sounded really gross!
Every year he gets a terry's orange...Every year, I make him eat it. All of it! Box and all!
Our most recently implemented tradition revolves around the newest addition to our family. Walter, our family hamster. Yes. I admit. I am a slave to our pleasantly plump furriest family member. Somehow he has managed to steal my heart and in the process has managed to snag my stocking!
This year Santa brought Walter hamster donuts and a fluffy duvet to cozy up in.
Among the more torturous of our traditions is the long and leisurely brunch we insist on feeding the kids BEFORE they open their gifts. Okay, we're not completely cruel, we do allow them to open their stockings before breakfast but not of course, before we make coffee. Fresh coffee. As in have to freshly grind the beans, filter the water and milk the cow fresh. Hey, they're lucky we don't insist on using a french press.
Then once mom and dad are nicely caffeinated we can move on to the delight of stocking'd surprises. Which generally include some sort of tongue in cheek addition in somebody's stocking. This year Taylor got "BOSS" and "ATTITUDE" cologne samplers.
After stockings, the kids endure the only 8 course, gourmet breakfast that is ever made for them. A special part of that breakfast is Pilsbury Cinammon buns. I grew up having those on Christmas morning.
Of course, to balance out the immense sugar rush, we throw in a wopping collection of fat and protein. Sausage, bacon, eggs, fruit, oatmeal.
During breakfast, we always read the Christmas story and spend some time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas. We desire that this is not just be a going through the motions type of tradition. So once the story is read, we require the kids to each write a short essay about the meaning of Christmas. Truly kidding but I'm thinking it might be a good one to implement for next year.
But as the kids get older, it is truly neat to see how hearing the account of the most amazing miracle ever recorded impacts them differently each year.
Finally probably the most loudly protested and painfully endured tradition of all is the dreaded family photo. The prim and proper, primped and beguiling smiles hide what has really gone on behind the scenes... it is almost a guarantee that before we are done, someone will have cried, someone will have gotten huffy, kids will have been bribed, badgered and bullied, and everyone will have yelled
"Take the stupid picture already!"
We broke from tradition this year.
Forget prim and proper.
Behold world, the Goertzen's in all their bed clothed glory!