Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: What are your favorite holiday traditions? Are they traditions you’ve created or are they long-standing family traditions? What’s one tradition you’ve let go of to make your holiday season simpler or more peaceful?
Diane MacKinnon: One of my favorite holiday traditions is our annual trip into Boston on Christmas Eve. My mom always went there to finish her Christmas shopping and, when we got old enough, she would take one of us with her (I’m a twin so she took me and Donna the year it was our turn). By the time all 5 of us had gone, we were old enough to go as a family so it became the tradition to go in early and have breakfast before finishing (or starting!) our Christmas shopping. My dad and my uncle (my dad’s twin) would be the keepers of the bags, and would usually hang out on a park bench (no matter the weather) in Downtown Crossing while we darted in and out of the stores finding last-minute presents. The day usually included a visit to Arch St. Church and usually ended with a big lunch together–sometimes at Durgin Park and sometime at the food court in Faneuil Hall or Downtown Crossing. Over the years, the number of people has waxed and waned, but I’ve gone every year I can because the city seems magical to me on the day before Christmas.
One tradition my extended family and I have let go of is buying gifts for everyone in the family. A number of years ago there were so many presents under the tree at my parents house that the gifts came up past our knees and spread halfway across the room. That’s when we started picking names out of a hat. Each adult gets one gift for another adult in the family and each child gets one gift for another child in the family. We call it Pappy Christmas (I don’t remember why!) and it works very well. Everyone gets something and we have much more time to hang out and enjoy the holiday season.
Jamie Wallace: We have two long-standing traditions in our family: crazy, battery-operated toys and scones. My dad is in charge of the crazy, battery-operated toys. It’s an addiction, apparently. Each year on Christmas Eve he presents his latest find. One year, it was a collection of Peanuts characters that each play a different instrument and when you put them near each other, they magically synchronize and play a mini orchestra. Another year, it was those weird sing-a-ma-jigs. We each got one, and wound up playing with them all night, cracking ourselves up and scaring the cat. One of my favorites is the animatronic bear that reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – very cute. The scones are a tamer tradition, by far … and a yummier one. We use the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook and which my mom has made since I was a little girl. We put plenty of melted butter and sugar on top and serve them up with more butter, homemade preserves (also compliments of my mom), and – of course – peanut butter.
Both of these traditions are small things. But since we don’t go in for extravagance, they are a perfect fit. I plan to keep them alive and hand them down to my daughter and, maybe someday, her children. That’s kind of fun to look forward to.
Lisa J. Jackson: I’ve given up most traditions, actually. The only thing I really do is go to my parent’s house Christmas morning for brunch and afterward we swap a few gifts. It’s very low key and I like that. I don’t have any kids, nieces, nephews, or young people in the family. I do enjoy donning a Santa hat (and this year I have a suit!) and hanging out with my friend’s family. I cherish being with happy people who like being with each other. Simple.
Julie Hennrikus: Traditions? As the only child-free sister of three, and a doting aunt. my holiday celebrations vary every year. They do include seeing everyone in my immediate family at some point, and hopefully at the same time. And seeing my friends who are family. I am working on developing some food traditions with my nieces, but at this point that is making apple pies and borrowing from other people’s traditions. Making perogies and Jamaican patties this year.
Deborah Lee Luskin: We’re not a tradition-bound clan, except when it comes to food, which is always excellent. Between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, we’re bound to enjoy gravlax, pate, cardomom cookies – and always sticky buns & coffee while we open gifts on Christmas morning. All homemade, of course.