Tradition is a pretty big thing for my family this time of year. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been doing things the same year after year, big dinners, Christmas crackers and crowns, my brother and I “playfully” disagreeing as to where certain ornaments are placed on the tree. And as new additions are added to the family, new traditions are as well.
This year, Mario and I were both lucky not to be working on Christmas Eve, so we treated ourselves to It’s a Wonderful Life at the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island. I’ve seen the movie countless times and was really hoping to experience that same magic with the play. But by the intermission, I was thoroughly unimpressed. It felt like it was dragging. Thankfully the second half – credit to Clarence the Angel – was much better.
After the play, we headed home to enjoy rouladen, a German dish that’s been a tradition in Mario’s German-rooted family for eons.
And then the presents; another German Christmas Eve tradition.
While Christmas Eve with Mario is a pretty relaxing experience, Christmas Day with my family is quite the opposite. It’s more of a crazy, chaotic gong-show. See, my immediate family (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews) currently stands at 23 with two more on the way. It’s hard not to be chaotic with that many people battling for airspace. The gift opening is a bit of a free-for-all (if it weren’t, we’d be there for hours) filled with a chorus of paper tears and muffled thank yous and shrieks of glee and endless fits of laughter.
The laughter is usually the result of the stocking stuffers, where each of us adults purchase small gifts, not exceeding $5. And while these stuffers used to be more conservative with socks and lotions and coffee gift cards, they’ve since become a bit more “creative” with already scratched scratch and wins, dollar store blinky pins, notepads with my brother’s face plastered on the front, and ornaments, ohhh the ornaments.
The tacky ornament is a long-standing tradition between my brother and I. He’s a bit of a tree-decorating perfectionist whereas I’m more of an equal ornament opportunist. And so about 11 years ago, I’d gotten fed up with him hiding my treasured A&W bear ornament where no one could see it. So I figured I’d show him, and I went out and bought him the tackiest ornament I could find that year: A pickle! I can still remember his eyes when he opened that small box up. He looked up at me, then back down at the pickle, then started laughing. “This is now a tradition,” he told me. Words he would come to rue. I’ve purchased a big feathery bird, a huge Marilyn Monroe looking ornament, an A&W bear (haha :D), a rolly polly chef, the boot of a harlot, and this year, a sparkly gold pig … which I actually thought was kind of cute (but totally forgot to take a picture of before wrapping) And to my brother’s credit, he always puts the ornaments on his tree, hidden as they may be.
And then there’s dinner. Every year I continue to be amazed at my parent’s abilities at cooking this extraordinary feast and timing it to perfection. And every year it’s just as delicious if not better than the last – especially the stuffing. No one beats my parent’s stuffing!
It’s these people and these traditions that make my Christmas the most perfect Christmas ever!
How did you spend your Christmas?