Holidays at the Haus (or confessions of a christmas junkie) December 17 2011, 1 Comment
(Hi everyone! We've switched things up a bit this time and Matt has written this post.)
December has always been my favorite month of the year. From my school years when it meant 2 weeks off and loads of presents to my adult years where it means friends and family (and loads of presents) I've always had a special love for this time of year.
In my family, Christmas is the anchor of the clan's list of annual events. My mother's side (the loud, obnoxious Irish one) is based in Hawaii, but there is quite a diaspora of kids and cousins who live all over the states. For us, Christmas always meant making the long pilgrimage back to the island to celebrate at the family home. It's a pretty nice bonus that getting to see your family meant two weeks of basking in tropical weather and going to the beach after presents.
Now that I am starting my own family, we don't get out there as much as we like, so Britton and I have our own holiday traditions that we have started. From Thanksgiving to New Year's our house gets pretty 'Yule intensive'. The tree is out the day after Thanksgiving and I'll have started wrapping presents immediately after. In our house, it's almost a bit of a holiday altar - I arrange the gifts obsessively and love to tuck little candies and treats among them. Britton teases me for this quite a bit (another developing tradition in our house).
Once the tree is up, the floodgates have been opened - the next two weeks are usually spent finishing up present shopping and sending off gifts and messages to loved ones. Then it's time to get serious! We usually start our advent on the 13th because two advent calendars would be a bit much even by our standards - so we split one. The 13th is also St. Lucia day which is important to me for marking my Swedish heritage (on my Dad's side) - it is also the day of Winter Solstice according to the old Julian calendar. St. Lucia was one of the earliest Christian saints and is one of the only ones to be recognized by many Protestant denominations as well. In Sweden, St. Lucia day is marked by children bringing their parents coffee and specially baked buns in bed. Since our "kids" are two naughty cats and two fish, we usually make these ourselves.
After winding down the last of the holiday orders from customers (you guys definitely keep us busy this time of year!) the next big day is usually Christmas Eve for us. We follow the normal tradition of opening one gift each in the evening and enjoy some Vegan nog while watching some of our favorite Christmas programs. "A Muppet Christmas Carol" and the "Good Life" Christmas special are required viewing in our house!
On the big day we get up early and drink coffee while snuggling up and watching the Peter Serafinowicz Christmas Special. (I know - we really love holiday TV). After coffee it's present time! My favorite part has to be getting to surprise Britton with things she was never expecting. I have to admit that it takes a pretty good poker face to keep her from guessing what I've gotten her.
This year we are also starting a new tradition - I learned recently that I have some English ancestry (apparently one of my ancestors was in Queen Victoria's private chapel choir), so we are incorporating Boxing Day into our holiday calendar as well. In the UK Boxing Day was celebrated the day after Xmas when the family of the manor would make gift boxes of holiday leftovers, money and treats to give to their tenant families as a show of appreciation. These days it's more of an excuse for store's to have sales - but we have decided to make it a day for giving to charity so we are going to make donations to local organizations who deserve our support.
By this time, it's New Year's and we are ready to wind things down. We'll have our collard greens and Hoppin' John (a tradition in Britton's Southern family) and open up the house at midnight while making a big racket to get rid of the old and welcome in the new year.
So what does your family do to celebrate the holidays (be it Xmas, Channukah, Kwanza, Yule, Saturnalia, Festivus, Chrimbus or any other)? We'd love to hear what the members of our "HoG Family" have planned!