It’s the most wonderful time of the year. An overused expression I know, but never seems to go out of style. I love this time of the year! A time for Christmas traditions and spending time with family. Yes, I’m one of those smiling idiots you pass in the stores mouthing the words to the Christmas song blasting from the speakers.
While this time of year is hectic and a bit stressful at times, people are a little nicer (usually), the weather is cooler – at least where I live in Florida – and Christmas is slathered everywhere you go, even on the airways. The main reasons for my love of this season is the traditions, and of course the food. Hello!
Our traditions often define us, and as I’ve learned over the years, change to accommodate the people who come into-and stay-in our lives. In this blog I share my childhood traditions, and how they’ve changed over the years.
I was born and raised on Grand Cayman. When I lived at home, my parents and I went to my aunt’s home because she owned a house, and is the cook in the family. Live music, beef, rice and beans, potato salad, baked macaroni and cheese, and other sides graced the menu. For desert, the dreaded fruit cake went on display along with yam and cassava cakes. Every year, I avoided the fruit cake and made a bee line for the cassava cake. Still do. As the years passed, we created our own family traditions adding turkey and my father’s famous spicy stuffing. Our Christmas days remained the same-opening presents at whoever’s house hosted Christmas lunch-and hanging out before and after lunch.
Our Christmas trees were plastic complete with fire hazard Christmas lights, infuriating tinsel that clung to everything whether you wanted it to or not, and ornaments our cats loved to see shatter when they smashed against the tile floor. Sweet memories.
Close to Christmas, we drove around and visited the houses famous for decorating their homes for Christmas and who allowed the public to stroll through their yards and enjoy the lights and atmosphere. It was also the perfect time to catch up with friends and people you hadn’t seen in a while.
When I moved out on my own, and purchased my first apartment, my parents and I alternated between my house and theirs each Christmas. Some years I hung out with my bff’s family, although I always visited my parents.
My first Christmas living on my own, I purchased a real tree since my parents never did, and I’d always loved the look and smell of them. Best decision ever! I got the most amazing tree which remained green until the first week of February when I finally took it down.
I love baking, and baked a lot before my kid’s birth. I made Christmas cookies and treats for people at work and if I hosted or attended other Christmas parties. One year I baked a three layer white Christmas cake, but thankfully I lost the recipe in Hurricane Ivan. That’s my excuse and will own it until the day I die!
My husband is from Texas and came with his own family traditions. We had tons of ‘fun’ creating new ones. By the time I married, ham became part of the Christmas menu along with baked macaroni and cheese, but I ditched the macaroni and cheese, while my husband compromised the mash potatoes for potato salad. My array of cookies and treat shortened to store bought dough and mixes after my son’s birth, and my MIL graciously added decorating a gingerbread house. Yay!
When we lived in Cayman, alternating Christmas became an interesting experience traveling overseas and my in laws visiting Cayman. When we moved to Florida in August of 2015 (link) my parents promised to visit when their turn came. My in laws hosted last year, and my husband and I are hosting Christmas this year. Yipee!
Christmas mornings changed slightly after our kids were born. We open presents at home and then open more presents when we visit our parents. For the kids it means celebrating Christmas twice, and provides more photo opportunities for parents and grandparents. Win. Win.
Over the years, I binged on Christmas movies like It’s a Wonderful, Scrooged, and every new Christmas movie released by Hallmark. My husband and son long to remove this tradition, but this tradition is NEVER gonna change. EVER!
What are your family traditions? What traditions have you merged or sacrificed because of marriage or friends?