I've always been really interested in what everyone does for the holidays, but especially now with how different this year might look from previous years. Some of MY plans have even changed because this is the first year I've been in a serious relationship for the holidays.
To start, I wanted to explain a somewhat unusual tradition to others that my family actually celebrates before Christmas. On December 6th, we celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. For those that do celebrate this holiday, I know it can look different from family to family. We started our own tradition for this day when I was little. We put up the Christmas tree the night before and when we wake up in the morning, there is a DVD for each of us and then some of our favorite candy. We can also always count on a jar of old fashioned hard candy to be there as well. Sometimes, we had to change the day that we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day because my dad is a firefighter, and he can have a crazy schedule depending on the year.
When we do put up the tree, we have a few traditions around that as well. My brother always puts the nail on the tree, hanging on a low branch, serving as a religious reminder for the reason for the holiday. I was always in charge of the star on top. Now that my brother no longer lives with us, I put the nail and star on the tree.
The next tradition we started was on Christmas Eve every year. Before we go to bed that night, we get to open our Christmas pajamas. We then wear them that night when we go to bed. It's a fun, early present for each of us, and there are always cute Christmas pajamas to choose from each year. As I got older, I started helping my mom pick out everyone's pajamas.
Another Christmas Eve tradition we used to have was spending that evening at my great-grandmother's house. I have a pretty large family on my mom's side so this was always a good excuse to see everyone that we don't normally get to see because we all live so far apart. We'd eat dinner and hang out during the evening, and then we'd all go outside once it got later and set off fireworks. I remembered doing this, but it wasn't until this year that I learned we did that so Santa could find us at Memo's house. After the fireworks, we'd hear sleigh bells and we'd go inside to find Santa sitting in Memo's living room. He'd have a gift for each of us and we'd spend the rest of the evening playing and showing off our new toys to our cousins, and singing christmas carols.
I did not know this was a deliberate tradition set by my parents before I was born, but they decided that on Christmas morning, they would wake up in our house, no matter what our plans the night before were. One year, we spent time in Disney World and drove straight through at the end of the trip so we could be home in time to go to sleep and wake up in our house Christmas morning. On Christmas morning, we open presents and do stockings.
On Christmas Day, a little bit later, we always pack up and head to my grandma's house. There, we eat food (whichever meal we decide to get together for), open presents and do stockings. Santa was in charge of the stockings at Grammy's house but Grammy had free reign over the presents under the tree. For a few years, once my brother and I got older, we decided to do White Elephant gifts to eliminate the need to spend money or struggle to find the "perfect gift" for someone. This was fun, but Grammy always found a way around the "no gifts rule" and we all ended up with presents anyway.
This year looks a little different, like I said previously. I'll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my boyfriend and his family. It'll be the first year I am not waking up in my own bed on Christmas morning. My boyfriend will also be joining my family and me for dinner on Christmas Day. While things do look different, I'm so excited to begin new traditions and spend time with even more people I care about.