The wonderful thing about traditions is that you get to look forward to them every year. Ah, anticipation! The tyrannical thing about traditions is that you have to do them every year in order for them to be a tradition. Aw, overwhelming. I hear of all these fabulous traditions that people have which I would love to add to our December roster, but I tremble to add something else to our overflowing plate especially if it means we have to do it every year. Egads!
So I decided maybe we redefine traditions as things we do most years–or some years, but not insist that we do EVERYthing EVERY year at all cost. This year we skipped some things: Mt. Vernon, Meadowlark Gardens, 25 days of scorched fingers from hot gluing foamy crafts in the advent calendar, Christmas Eve caroling, sending out unbeatably awesome Christmas cards or emails.
Instead we did some new things! And a couple things that we’ve done before but not every year, such as decorating gingerbread houses,
Christmas Eve sleepover,
a camel ride, ordering presents super late so that half a dozen things arrived after Christmas, sending out totally pedestrian Christmas cards that filled me with shame–okay, some of these are not going to be traditions of any sort.
Here’s what happened with the cards. I almost didn’t get them sent out because, as a friend explained to me, I had set such a high “blog-worthy” bar in previous years that it paralyzed me. Besides, the Jensens dressed up their dog as each member of the family in an epic, snark-filled letter that would make you laugh out loud even if you didn’t know them (telling everyone your 10 year-old son rocks a K.D. Lang haircut and finishes dead last in a bike race? Check.), so this was a good year to sit out the competition.
Back to traditions. We still did plenty of the usual suspects this year: Bullrun Festival of Lights, Brunch Before Christmas, Trains at the Botanic Gardens, Tacky Christmas Lights of Northern Virginia, Church Christmas party, and probably a bunch of other things that, though not springing to mind at the moment, were totally amazing and super impressive and would make you really, really like me, I swear.
Not all traditions are created equal, by the way. Some traditions just blow. And we should all have free rein to discard traditions that we either tire of or outgrow. For instance, Christmas dinner. For years I have used the fumes in my tank on Christmas Day to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner. Year after year, I spent an obscene fraction of December 25th storming around the kitchen in a sleep-deprived haze making 8 wonderful dishes so that my kids could eat the rolls and then ask for graham crackers? I don’t even want them to eat my amazing food if I have to bribe or threaten them to do it. So this year I got Thai food take-out from Duangrats instead. Everyone except Peppers ate it and loved it. If my kids remember that their mom fed them takeout at Christmas that is FINE BY ME!!
Instead of slaving away in the kitchen, I spent Christmas morning putting together doll furniture with wood glue, my new Dewalt drill/driver, and my mad carpentry skillz. Wait! I assembled it all in the kitchen. Uhoh. I totally slaved away in the kitchen on Christmas morning just as I vowed not to! Oh well. I have to say my furniture carpentry made me feel closer to Jesus. I hear he also put together RTA doll furniture for his kids on Christmas morning.
I may not have cooked Christmas Day, but I did buy the legal limit worth of dairy to make the feast for the Brunch Before Christmas.
On the menu:
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd
- Sour cream and Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Spiced Blueberry Syrup
- Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella, Sausage and Egg Casserole
- Apple Cherry Candy Cane Cakes (thanks, Jenny)
- Bacon and Poached Egg Salad (thanks, Ang)
- Cinnamon Rolls (thanks, Martha)
- Mulled Cranberry and Orange Punch
- Orange Mint Mormon Mojitos
Seriously, my favorite meal of the year.
Best new tradition of the year: putting the tweens in charge of the nativity and talent show at the Brunch Before Christmas. It’s a wonderful life when you just get to watch. Warning: Disturbing Images of Pregnant Seven Year Old.
Let us not forget that the First Christmas tree also came to Bethlehem that blessed night.
Okay, okay, I didn’t sit idly by entirely. Someone had to close the show singing Ave Maria in my turkey hat, but other than that, I didn’t lift a finger for the program. Thanks, young ladies! And yes, that’s my hat and those are my cheekbones, but that’s actually my sister wearing them for this picture.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends. I hope you did the things you love best with the people you care about the most. And by that I mean read my blog with Ben & Jerry.