Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Traditions

Christmas was one of the constants of my life growing up.   Over the years the location of these traditions have changed, but they are still the same.

Maybe that's why I love the holiday so much.  It's comfortable.  Predictable.

Christmas Eve is rather big for Polish people.  And my dad's side of the family is rather Polish.  My maternal grandmother's parents were off the boat Polish immigrants.  They settled in Syracuse, New York, where a great many other Polish people also settled.

Christmas Eve in Poland features a huge feast of 12 meatless courses.  There's an empty chair set at the table,  There's a bland wafer passed around.

We didn't do that, but the spirit was there.

At Grandma's house, Christmas was a casual affair.  We gathered in her basement family room where a buffet of pirogi, baked ziti, cheese pizza, Buffalo wings and the like were set out.  There wasn't an empty chair, but there was always room for one more.

Grandma always had a real tree downstairs.  The shape varied from year to year, but I remember the round, Hershey Kiss shared trees the best.

Midnight Mass is also part of a Polish Christmas, but not being part of the Catholic part of the family, I didn't partake.  Also, I don't know if anyone went to Midnight Mass.

Christmas Day was spend with my mother's side of the family.  That side is of Scottish and Welsh Protestant farming stock.  That side of the family had the huge sit down Christmas lunch.  It was Christmas like many people have.  Big lunch, presents, dessert.

Things have changed over the years.  After my Mother's mother died, Christmas dinner moved to my Aunt's house.  (She's since passed, moving Christmas dinner to my other aunt's house). After my father's mother passed, Christmas Eve moved to my aunt's house.  We don't do presents any more, save a Christmas Eve White Elephant Gift exchange.

The skeleton of the Christmases of my childhood are still there.  Things have changed, though.  I only get home to Syracuse every three years.  We've actually added a new tradition to make up for the absence of old ones.  Since my parents' divorce, we rarely see my dad for Christmas Eve.  Now we head back to my Aunt's house after visiting my mother's family on Christmas Day.  My dad is there, along with his family.  This is a night full of wine and leftovers and a lot of good conversation with people that I don't see enough.

Today is Christmas Day.  This year we're headed out to Texas to spend time with the Spousal Equivalent's family.  And next year we're staying home.  Christmases when we stay home are always built around laying around the house in PJs and eating.

However you celebrate, Merry Christmas!!

(I'll leave you with my favorite Christmas Special!)

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