How is your week going so far? Score any great Cyber Monday deals?
If you’re anything like me, your wallet is hurting a bit today, so I thought we could take a step back from the online shopping and instead talk about something that will cost no money (#praisehands)—your favorite holiday traditions.
At UVA, there’s a running joke that basically says if you do something twice, it’s tradition. And I have to say, that Jeffersonian line of thought has long influenced my family. (My Dad is a Wahoo, too.) As such, we have developed a lot of holiday traditions over the years, though we’re always looking to start new ones as our family has been in transition the past few years with the death of loved ones and cousins “growing up” and starting their own families.
(For instance, those Christmas pajamas I wrote about a few weeks ago are a revival of a tradition we had as kids and recently decided to bring back.)
So without further ado, I wanted to share a few of my favorite holiday traditions—and would love to learn more about yours, too!
CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS //
Like many other families, we hang our Christmas stockings on the mantle at my parents house to enjoy them all season long. My Grandma cross stitched the pattern on the front and then had them made into stockings with a fine red velvet packing. I love that my cousins, aunts, and uncles all have a matching set to ours, so we’re bound together in yet another way.
Also, note the stocking hangers—my sisters and I use the same one each year and mine is the only one in the family that isn’t a Santa Claus.
ANNUAL COOKIE EXCHANGE //
One of my favorite events of the season, we invite our closest girl friends over for a night of wine and sugar. Everyone bakes two to three dozen of their favorite cookies, we taste test all night with holiday Pandora on in the background, and we provide fancy Chinese-takeout-style boxes for our guests to enjoy leftovers. We also make sure to have plenty of savory apps on hand to balance out the cookies.
CHRISTMAS ADAM //
So, hang with me on this one—God made Adam, then he made Eve, right? So since we were 15 or so, my friends and I have always celebrated Christmas Adam on December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. When we first started this tradition, we’d meet at someone’s house for a gift exchange and spend the rest of the evening watching Christmas movies and overindulging in sugar. As the years progressed, we went from gifts and sugar to drinks at Reston Town Center, a hub of bars and restaurants near our folks.
Two years ago may have been the best one yet when H and I found ourselves at World of Beer with the Fairfax County Fire Department, convincing them our names were Caroline and Susan.
VISITING ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY //
My Pop Pop and my Nana are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and as such, we have a permanent visitor’s pass that allows us to drive right up to their gravesite. So, every year since 2011, we’ve gone and wished Pop Pop a Merry Christmas. When Nana joined him two years ago, our trip became even more special. Afterward, we usually head down to see the National Christmas Tree on the White House South Lawn and eat dinner downtown.
Each year, volunteers lay wreaths out on the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve never been able to go before, but am hoping to make it out there this year and start a new holiday tradition honoring our Nation’s true heroes.
CHICK FIL A ON CHRISTMAS EVE //
You know you’re jealous. For as long as I’ve been doing Christmas Adam, I’ve been eating Chick Fil A lunch the next day. This became especially clutch when Christmas Adam started to involve alcohol. I can personally attest that Christmas Eve rarely falls on a Sunday and that calories don’t count on Christ’s (almost) birthday, so definitely consider copying this tradition ;].
CHRISTMAS EVE MASS //
Eek! Definitely my favorite Mass of the year, my family rolls in at least an hour early so we all get seats because there is nothing worst than standing through a 20-minute Communion. We generally go to the 3 pm children’s Mass, and it’s fun to run into the same people every year (hi, Kate!). It really puts the true meaning of the holiday season at the forefront before we head home to celebrate with family. Our church always ends with Joy to the World!, and I look forward to it every year.
URBAN FAMILY WHITE ELEPHANT //
We generally do Christmas Eve with my Dad’s family in Fairfax. My parents have hosted a handful of times and my Aunt Carlota has also hosted a couple of times since my Grandparents turned it over nearly ten years ago. Several years ago now, we did away with a formal gift exchange as it was essentially becoming a gift card swap. But, we did want to have something to open on Christmas Eve, so now we have a rousing White Elephant gift exchange. A $20-25 limit, selfie sticks were in high demand last year. This year we’re thinking about adding a twist—all items must be purchased from a thrift store. Thoughts?!
CHRISTMAS HAPPY HOUR IN DURHAM //
After presents from “Santa” and exchanging family gifts on Christmas morning, we pack up and hit I-95 South to head to Durham to spend Christmas dinner with my Mom’s family. The past several years, my Aunt Becky has hosted, and since we usually beat our cousins from Savannah there, we get the wine flowing and apps out—including my favorite: pimento cheese in celery. Once everyone arrives, we sit down to a delicious Christmas dinner and then spend the rest of the night opening presents. We always love it when it’s cool enough for a fire!
And though we’ve gained a sister and some height since this 1995 classic, we’re still known to send out a family Christmas card from time to time.
Happy Holidays, everyone!