The human soul can always use a new tradition.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sometimes we require them.

Pat Conroy
An orange in the toe of our stockings. A Christmas Eve movie followed by appetizers for dinner. Opening one present on Christmas Eve.

Despite a rather hodge-podge upbringing, my siblings and I enjoyed some tried and true Christmas traditions. And although Santa often forgets to put citrus in Jared's stocking or we don't make it to the theater, there are a couple of traditions I've held on to and a few I've made for myself.

Although it was a Christmas Eve Eve Eve movie, the boys and I saw The Hobbit at a local community theater. It's tiny and cute. The theater, I mean. And the Hobbits. Three sodas, 1 large popcorn and 2 boxes of candy cost $11.50. And they play old Looney Tunes cartoons before the show, which makes arriving early to ensure a seat a pleasure for a restless kiddo. Now on to those traditions.

1. Appetizers for Christmas Eve dinner: While we were at a movie with our dad, my mom would whip up a finger-food feast. Homemade lumpia, pigs-in-a-blanket, crudites, tater tots...the list goes on. I have no idea how this tradition started, but it seamlessly continued once I had my son; and I received zero resistance from my husband on this one. My sister got her hands on my old favorite recipe for Seafood Rounds, which I will be trying out tonight. I hope it lives up to the memories. Jared is making pigs in a blanket, and Mario chose bacon-wrapped Little Smokies in brown sugar. Deeelish.

2. Opening a gift on Christmas Eve: Just a small one, of course. Mario and I pass, but we love seeing the excitement build after Kiddo opens one and gets a taste of what's to come. It was one of my favorite traditions as a kid.

3. Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning: Another childhood tradition that has carried on. I'm crazy about Pillsbury's sweet orange rolls, and Jared picked out some chocolate rolls from Immaculate to try. The grocery store was out of traditional cinnamon rolls, so I'm guessing this tradition is not unique to us.

4. Watching A Christmas Story all day on Christmas: Despite owning it, we watch the continuous replay on TBS. It may be the single best Christmas movie ever made. A bold statement, I know, but we could watch it over and over again. We also own and watch the classic Christmas movies with the fun claymation/puppets and the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Another contender for best movie is It's a Wonderful Life. It gets me every time.

5. Advent Calendars: I never did these as a kid, but Jared has had one every year since he was old enough. His favorite is the Lego Advent calendars, and he is very specific about opening, building and replacing the figurine back into it's slot. It is hands-down one of his favorite Christmas traditions.

6. Decorating sugar cookies: This is a fairly new tradition, because we are not big fans of sugar cookies in general. The thin, too-crunchy cookies from our youth or the soft, crumbly ones from the store with loads of frosting and sprinkles. A few years ago I discovered the classic Betty Crocker sugar cookie recipe that uses powdered sugar instead of traditional granulated sugar. It's a one-bowl deal and they turn out amazing. Soft but not too soft and amazing flavor. I think the secret is in the almond extract. I make a simple royal icing (1 cup of powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla and almond extracts, and approx. 2 tbsp of liquid...I most commonly use almond or coconut milk so Kiddo can enjoy them). I love to see what he comes up with!

Despite never having seen Nacho Libre, Jared's cookie bears a striking resemblance to Jack Black.

Merry Christmas Eve!

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