Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Traditions

This morning the writing blogosphere is abuzz with "Kissing Day." In theory I'd like to participate, but I don't have anything to share that wouldn't (1) be a spoiler and ruin part of the story, (2) lose quite a lot of its power when taken out of the novel's context, or (3) both.

So I'll segue from kissing... to mistletoe (see above!)... to holiday traditions. (ANY holiday is up for discussion, although I'm going to be focused on Xmas.)

I've been thinking a lot about traditions lately because we have a toddler. (Is she still a toddler if she no longer toddles, but instead dances, climbs, and sprints?) We're at the very beginning of a (hopefully) long future as a family, and we want to start building traditions now. Some we'll take from our families, some are just part of the cultural zeitgeist, and some we'll invent all by ourselves.
  • We are a big Xmas tree family. If you're not worrying whether the tree will fit in the house, it's not big enough. We had to snip a couple inches off the top of our current tree after we got it home so that it wouldn't hit the ceiling.
  • Xmas food: mulled cider, both for drinking and for that amazing spicy smell. Pecans toasted with salt & butter. Ham rolls: thick slices of ham rolled up with cream cheese and scallions inside, like a little sushi roll. (That one's from my side of the family, and I have no idea where the recipe came from.)
  • Xmas baking: my daughter and I baked our first batch of cookies together yesterday. Neither of us can cook worth a damn, but the cookies are edible and the video is priceless.
  • Music: carols are permitted -- nay, encouraged! -- once my birthday has passed. I am currently loving the various holiday radio mixes at Pandora. (I'll post a video celebrating my all-time favorite carol on Friday.)
  • Yule log: my parents videotaped the WPIX Yule Log the last year that it aired, and we play it every year. This year they're bringing it back with a 4th hour of new music! Awesome.
  • Santa: we're not doing Santa this year, but almost certainly will next year.
  • Television/movies: we're going to keep it to a minimum this year because my daughter's so young, but... the original Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life (I am the only person in my family who likes this movie, dangit), Muppet Christmas Carol (Michael Caine? Robin as Tiny Tim? How can you not love it?), The Christmas Toy (not as good now as I'd remembered it being, but I'm still in love with the sweet little mouse), The Nutcracker with Baryshnikov and Kirkland, the extended animated Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and A Wish for Wings That Work, among others.
There's more, but I'm behind in my shopping, and my family needs stocking stuffers. Tell me about your holiday activities! And, to keep things ever-so-vaguely in a writerly theme... do your characters have a favorite holiday tradition? My MC and her best friends have a serious hot cocoa addiction, and I think they probably mix it up with peppermint and raspberry flavors to make the holidays more special...


  1. Flavored coffee, driving very far away to see the very best Christmas lights, new PJs on Christmas Eve, and two Christmas pageants. A big Christmas brunch with all my in-laws. Christmas music 24/7.

  2. Love your list! I totally don't get this kissing blog went right over my head.

    My toddler whippersnapper and I listen to a lot of holiday songs and also make edible but painful cookies together. We've also found a place that will have live reindeer this week, so we'll be seeing them. Whippersnapper has schemes to ride them but I think he'll change his mind once he sees how big they are and that there isn't a magical sleigh attached.

    As for holidays in stories....I'm a sucker for snow, lots of it, and cold...all of which make for a cozy setting!

  3. Hey! I couldn't really participate either because I don't write a lot of romance, but I did enjoy reading all of the selections!

    I made my world famous chocolate covered cherries yesterday. I gave them to a bunch of "new people/victims". They were a hit. Now it feels like Christmas. :0)

  4. My holiday traditions: resolve to buy gifts early, fail to buy gifts early, work up to Xmas eve, go out Xmas eve to get last-minute gifts, stay up late wrapping, hope desperately that my wife has things in order for the kids' gifts.

    Your traditions sound nicer. :)

  5. We combine Latin and American traditions so...
    We celebrate at midnight on the 24th with a big Venezuelan mea, (hallacas, pan de jamon, ensalada de gallina, pernil and panetone) but we have to get up early for our American stockings. We do the traditional turkey dinner on the 25th even though we are still full from the midnight meal.
    On the 6th of January we celebrate King's Day by placing the children's shoes outside the door to be filled with goodies from the wise men.

  6. Peppermint + Hot Cocoa? Hmmmm, yeah, I've never been a fan of mixing pepperming with anything, but this actually sounds strangely intriguing.


    Off to the store :P

  7. I remember watching Miracle on 34th Street (the Natalie Wood version) when I was 12. That was the first time I'd seen it. As the movie started, my mom said, "That little girl died last week." So the whole movie I'm picturing this little girl dying and trying to figure out why...until my mom told me she'd grown up, of course. DUH! That perplexed me even more. Poor little girl didn't know she'd die someday. Again, DUH!

  8. Sounds like a lot of very fun traditions! And I'm sure you'll develop more over the years with your daughter. I can't believe how many we have after so many years!

  9. yeah.. peppermint in cocoa.. hadn't thot of it. But I think I'll try it.

  10. Simon, I assure you that we are SMACK DAB in the middle of those less-enjoyable traditions as I type. WHAT AM I GOING TO GET FOR MY DAD??!?!?!?!