In other news, bubonicplague asked about holiday traditions today, and I started to write some of mine up. I realized I have so many, I should probably just write a post about my family's traditions.
Copy/pasted from Bubs' post:
Starting with trees-- we have four trees this year, and we decorate them together and every year we tell all the stories of how we got every ornament. The best tree is my mom's Beer Tree-- she has an entire tree decorated with beer-related ornaments. She also has a tree entirely decorated with Santas. The problem is that she has several ornaments of Santa Drinking Beer and it's a bit difficult to figure out which tree to put them on. The best ornament is Egg Baby. Egg Baby is actually a pink easter egg with a little baby doll dressed like a bunny inside it...my mother put it in my father's easter basket the year she was pregnant with me. Now Egg Baby has inexplicably been repurposed as a Christmas ornament and lives in our Christmas tree every year.
Another one of our awesome ornaments is The Fork. We moved houses when I was five, and there was some silverware left over in the new house from the people who had been there before. One of the pieces was a painfully baroque looking fork with lots of curlicues. I decided, like lots of children decide, that I would Only Eat With The Fork. Then my brother got wise and HE started demanding to eat with The Fork. It was nearly Christmas, and the tree was up in the house. We had a huge all-out brawl over The Fork, and finally, my mother took The Fork away from both of us, bent it in half, and hung it on the tree. The Fork remains on the tree to this day.
One of our trees still has the ornaments from my great-grandmother's first American Christmas tree!
My father only cooks one thing. The man can't even make himself a bowl of tuna salad, but every year, he makes pans upon pans of the best buttercrunch on earth. It is meltaway delicious and he has a very carefully guarded 'secret recipe.'
Meanwhile, my mom and I make cookies. There used to be all these cookies the Aunts made every year, but most of them taste like cardboard, so we whittled it down to just the best ones: butterballs, almond logs, thumbprints, and Hello Dollies, which are a kind of seven layer bar. Sometimes we'll make one or two more kinds, or iced sugar cookies.
The week before Christmas, every year, my father gives me a porcelain angel and my brother a porcelain bear. When I was maybe six or seven, my father told me that he was going to stop giving me angels when I turned twelve. Twelve seemed impossibly old, so I didn't think this was a problem, but my mother overruled. "You will not," she said, and now I get them at thirty. The problem is that my dad buys them several years in advance and keeps them all together, and in recent years, he's forgotten which ones he's given me and ends up giving me three or four so he can make sure I get one I haven't gotten before.
When we were kids, we had two nativity sets: an advent calendar nativity, where each of us would take turns opening a day until the nativity was completed, and then another nativity, which was all opened at once. Of course, the Three Kings would start out very far away from the nativity scene and and get closer to it, until on Twelfth Night, we would put the kings up in the rest of the scene with their gifts. My brother and I used to fight over who got to open Baby Jesus, so finally my parents started labeling each year to say who would get to the next year.
Italian tradition calls for only fish on Christmas Eve, but we have fish and zeppole. Depending on which Italians you speak to, you're either supposed to have seven kinds of fish, for the seven days of the week, or nine kinds of fish, for the nine months of pregnancy. Guess which my family does? Because if it involves overeating, my family is all there. We always have clam chowder and calamari and fried sardines and from there it tends to vary. On Christmas Eve, we open one gift-- pajamas. For a number of years, we always had Christmas at my uncle's. When we did that, My cousins got their clothes to wear to midnight Mass while my family got pajamas, and my uncle would read us a story while we waited to go to Mass. My uncle has the most monotone, pleasant voice in the world, so it usually lulled us to sleep before church.
When we went to my uncle's, there was this one woman in the choir who always insisted on soloing "O Holy Night," which is sort of a tragedy, because she never quite hit the notes. It was always during communion.
My father, on the other hand, likes to add his own little twists to the hymns. When we sing "Joy To The World," my father always sings the horn part. So it's like, "Joy to the world! The Lord is come BOMP BA BOMP! Let Earth receive her King BOMP BA BOMP!" He also does it during "Angels we Have Heard on High:" He like, does this little, "In excelsis day-ay-ay-ay-oohhhhhh," thing.
We get home from mass (although recent years have had less mass-focus), and then go to sleep. In the morning, the kids gets up and make breakfast-- sausage and eggs-- for the adults, and then we would always open presents, one present at a time, taking turns, youngest to oldest. In this way, present-opening lasted from about 9 am to 4 pm when we had the whole family there. We don't do that anymore.
Now, we pretty much just open stockings. Stockings get opened Christmas evening, and we take turns, from oldest to youngest. For many years, we had a contest, as to who could get the most outrageous pair of underpants. One year my uncle got a g-string shaped like an elephant, another year, my dad got tighty-whiteys with "Jingle Balls" stenciled on them. I used to have a huge collection of really skanky-ass underwear from when we used to do this.
Christmas dinner, unlike Christmas Eve, is a traditional British Christmas Dinner--my aunt is Irish, so we always had roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast veggies, and such for Christmas, along with Christmas poppers.
I think that is all!