Most families have Traditions, especially around the holidays. Growing up I remember always celebrating New Years Eve with Movies and Chinese take-out. No, there's no special significance with Chinese food and New Years Eve, it was more a matter of cost. My parents almost always received one or two gift certificates to their favorite Chinese restaurant for Christmas, and would use them to give us all a special meal for the new year. After a few years of doing this, it became a tradition, and even years when they didn't receive gift certificates, we still went for Chinese.
I have continued that tradition over the last 10 years and with my own children when they are home for New Years Eve, otherwise Hubby and I get Chinese and will go out to celebrate the New Year (and my birthday which coincidentally falls VERY close to it).
Since my husband and I have been together, we have begun a few traditions of our own, and since our family is still fairly new, these traditions are still evolving. One thing we have done since our very first Christmas together is to go to a local Tree Farm (a highly publicized one that donates Christmas trees to Military families) on the day after Thanksgiving, to pick out and cut our very own tree. While there we pick out a wreath or kissing ball, and the kids enjoy free homemade donuts and warm cider. Another tradition we started that very first trip to the tree farm was to let the kids each pick out their very own ornament, something we have continued every year since then.
Our theory was, it was our first Christmas together, neither of us had anything more for decorations than a few miscellaneous ones that had followed us from childhood, hand-me-downs from our parents or other well meaning people, and absolutely nothing matched. We didn't want our children to grow up in the same predicament, so we bought a set of glass balls in coordinating colors (blue and white), a blue tree skirt, and awesome wire edged ribbon that is sheer and glittery with snowmen, and a white Angel for the top of the tree (Angels hold a very significant place in Hubby's family so we picked one that was not religious but still an Angel). We figure that if the kids each can pick an ornament every year between now and when they move out and onto their own, they will each have approximately 20 very nice, unique and special ornaments to take with them to begin their own Holiday traditions with, and we will be left with our simple but still beautiful blue/white/silver ornaments and any special keepsake ornaments we end up with between now and then, like our GORGEOUS "Our First Christmas" ornament that hubby insisted on buying when we saw it at Macy's... Yes... Macy's... I won't tell you how much it cost, but let's leave it at, I could have fed us both at a small restaurant for what we paid.
We since have acquired a set of painted pine-cones that we hang on the tree, which pleases me to no end, because it gives that nature feel, and it brings me back to my roots, which is something I have wanted for a long time.
Something most of my readers do not know about me is that I am Pagan, something that has been important to me my entire life (but that's a whole different set of blog posts completely).
In my first marriage my husband "acted" supportive of my beliefs, but never fell short of making me feel like I should not incorporate my intended way of life, into his. My amazing hubby is super supportive and anyone who met him would think he himself was Pagan (though he still stands by the Catholic name because that's what he was raised as... haha).
Anyway, I have struggled for years since my husband and I got together, trying to find my way back to my path, and I finally feel as though I have taken the right turns, and finally am nearing where I should be. I decided that THIS holiday season we will be incorporating a new tradition. I want to begin introducing the kids to my belief system (without necessarily teaching them specifics or giving them lessons, just introducing aspects of Paganism to our daily lives, I think the good values are something everyone should learn!). My first attempt at this will be a variation of a tradition I read about online. The tradition I read about is called a Blessing Tree and for the life of me I can't find the link right now... I'll update when I do.. But basically you get a baby tree, and decorate it with bits of paper, each containing a Blessing or wish... and then after the holiday season you plant the tree. GREAT idea, this is supposed to be instead of cutting a tree down.
NOT so sure I could go without my tree... Hubby insists on a real one, and I love the time we spend with the kids going out to pick one out as a family, it's those traditions that are going to last a lifetime!
My idea is to take the idea of putting the blessings/wishes onto the "Christmas" tree (Yes, we call it Christmas), I want to have the kids write down a message thanking the tree for being our christmas tree, for allowing us to borrow it from Nature for awhile (since it will be returned to nature after the holiday season to become composted into the back yard).
Hubby comes from a very Italian family and one of their traditions growing up was to get together for a BIG seafood dinner on Christmas Eve, something we picked up our first year together. We went all out that first year and spent about $200 on the ONE meal for our combined families. Things have changed over the years and we are incorporating more pasta and finger foods into the mix. Last year I was pregnant so really couldn't have a lot of seafood so we simply had some Lobster and crab rolls, a shrimp platter, things like that, the main dish was stuffed manicotti.. SO GOOD! This year is looking to be similar, maybe a bit more seafood since I'm allowed to have it now haha.. But with the idea of money in mind, ,we need to keep costs low and are asking everyone to bring a small dish with them... and as always it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze, we may have some homemade wine available).
I think I will have the kids write their blessings for the tree before the party, and then ask everyone who comes to write their own and add it to our tree.. I'd like to cut some nice paper for this and use pretty ribbon to hang it on the tree... we will see what I come up with.
I think this is a good start for introducing Pagan traditions to the family, a little at a time... and hopefully I am able to incorporate more over the years.