I’m a sucker for traditions. There is something about family traditions that makes you feel safe, secure, and home even if you aren’t at your childhood home. As a child I looked forward to the traditions at Christmas even more than the presents from Santa. Every year we would go to the same Christmas tree farm and chop down our Christmas tree. We would listen to Christmas music and decorate the house. We would help my mom bake (and eat!) cookies. On Christmas Eve we would all gather at my aunt’s house for a big meal and to exchange gifts with extended family. Afterwards, we would drive around and look at Christmas lights. After we opened gifts on Christmas morning we would head over to my grandparent’s house for a giant Polish breakfast. Christmas was always the most perfect, joyous time of year and I can’t reminisce about our holiday traditions without smiling.
I always knew that I would carry many of these traditions into adulthood. However, I wanted to make them my own. It’s no secret that I am the black sheep of my family (although they love that about me) so it was always expected that I would put my own, quirky spin on things. I did not disappoint.
Ugly Christmas Trees
I have an affinity for all things ugly and weird. This love goes back as far as I can remember. Lucky for my parents, they had 4 kids so they only had to deal with my ugly tree fetish once every four years. Unfortunately for my husband, the ugly tree tradition is a permanent staple now that I have a family of my own. So, every year we still go to the Christmas tree farm with my family and while they are on the hunt for the perfect, full tree we trek around in search of the ugliest, saddest, half dead tree on the farm. I feel bad for them—all bald and decrepit. Why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to fulfill their Christmas destiny just because they aren’t society’s idea of perfect trees? We take the trees that nobody wants and love them and make them beautiful. I think it teaches Brady an important lesson not to judge everyone by traditional beauty standards and that you can find beauty in unexpected places. Unintended bonus, the guys at the tree farm always get a good laugh out of it and sometimes they just let us have our tree for free. Score!
Christmas Day was always super hectic growing up. I loved seeing family but my parents are divorced so I visited three different houses on Christmas day and it was a bit overwhelming. I always knew that when I had my own family I wanted things to be more low-key. We still see our families on the days before and after Christmas but Christmas Day is all about our own little family unit. We aren’t Jewish but in my early 20s I lived with a friend who was Jewish and I had the opportunity to participate in lots of traditions with her and her family. Every year on Christmas Day they would go to the movies and out for Chinese food because they were the only things open. It was such a fun tradition that my husband and I incorporated it into our own holiday traditions the first year we got married. We always go to the movies on Christmas afternoon (although now we see kids’ movies) and head to our favorite sushi place for dinner. Over the years our friends have joined in on dinner and we always have a huge group of our closest friends join us for sushi. This year we realized our favorite ice cream joint is open on Christmas as well so we will be adding that to our Christmas Day line up!
Our offbeat traditions aren’t for everyone but they fit our little family so perfectly. My parents always encouraged me to march to the beat of my own drum and we hope to instill the same in Brady. I can’t wait to see how he makes our traditions his own as he grows. What are your favorite holiday traditions?
- Sarah Adams @wireandhoney