When I typed that I thought about the musical "Fiddler on the Roof". Did anybody else?
Also, I think about Christmas. Obviously. But really, 99% of the stuff in my life now reminds me of this lovely, lovely holiday.
Each family that I know that celebrates Christmas has their own set of traditions attached to this special time of year. How these traditions have come to be is a story in itself (and I just love hearing them!).
If you spent Christmas with my family you'd hang out at our house on Christmas Eve (crossing your fingers for snow) and then we'd head to church to listen to my mom sing in the choir. The last song sung every Christmas Eve is "Silent Night" and all 500 members of the church light a candle and sing together with a bell choir. It's still one of my most favorite moments of the year. So peaceful, hopeful... wonderful. Then we return home and feast on fried shrimp (with cocktail sauce), wild rice, and some yummy green salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. We eat in the dining room - a room that otherwise stays relatively untouched (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas). After dinner we gather around the Christmas tree. Dad takes a seat in the blue puffy chair next to the tree and Mom sits full lotus position on the couch across the room. Erik would be lying on the ground playing with the dog and Molly and I would take whatever seat was still available. The only gift that is opened on Christmas Eve are our Secret Santa gifts. We have known for weeks who our "Secret Santa" is. This gives us the opportunity to channel all of our creative powers into one gift rather - thinking really hard about what that person would want/need/like. We take turns opening the gift and thanking the person who selected it/made it especially for us. We then gather the left over ribbon and cover the dog with it. Erik then turns on Bing Crosby's "Jingle Bells" (has to be this version) and we all watch as Abby takes off running around the house barking (We've done this every year and I just do not understand why Bing elicits such a response in Abby... maybe it's just her love of his sultry voice?). Then it's time to watch whatever Christmas movie is on tv (meaning I secretly figure out which station is playing "White Christmas" and turn it to that one). After WC is over, we set out cookies for Santa and go to bed in our snowflake flannel bedsheets and wait for Christmas day to arrive!
In thinking about Christmas traditions, I thought I would use the power of the interwebs and create a list of crazy Christmas traditions. I've included everything from the creative to the obscure. Keep in mind, these are real people.
1. On Christmas Day, South Africans eat fuzzy caterpillars [from the emperor moth] fried in oil. I'll pass.
2. Santa doesn't just use reindeer to get around - in Australia he hops on a kangaroo, he paddles a canoe in Hawaii, and is dropped from heaven on a golden cord in the Czech Republic. I still prefer Rudolph.
3. Every year, the Scottsdale Gun Club (in Arizona) hosts a "Santa and Machine Guns" event that allows members to take their picture with Santa and AK-47s. Peace on Earth, people.
4. Every year, workers at the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill near Cincinnati, Ohio string 30,000 Christmas lights across the garbage mound, which stretches over 234 acres and rises 279 feet high. The display includes 25-foot-tall candy canes. Hey kids! Let's all get in the car and go look at the Christmas lights... at the dump!
5. In 1902, as an avid conservationist and ardent opponent of deforestation, President Theodore Roosevelt banned putting up a Christmas tree in the White House. Roosevelt’s son Archie snuck his own Christmas tree into the White House, rigging it up in a large closet. Today, Americans celebrate Christmas by chopping down 27 million fir trees. That's a lot of trees.
6. During the Santa Claus World Championships, held in Samnaun, Switzerland, teams of Santa Clauses from around the world compete against one another in chimney climbing, snowball fighting, sledge racing, donkey trekking, and Santa skiing—in the hope of capture the title “Santa Claus World Champion.” Who wants to buy me a ticket to see this? Because, YES.
7. In India, only about 2.3% of the population are Christians, but because of the large population they have, we are talking about 25 million people here! Christians here celebrate Christmas with midnight mass and gift-giving like the rest of the world, but with the absence of fir trees or pine trees to decorate, they usually made do with banana trees and mango trees instead. Good idea! I'm going to try this here!
8. Christmas is huge in the Phillipines since 80% of the population are Christians. Celebrations last all the way to January. Children will leave their brightly polished shoes and freshly washed socks on the window sills for the Three Kings to leave gifts in when they pass through their houses at night. The "Feast of the Three Kings" marks the end of the Christmas celebrations. Sign me up!
9. Did you know that Santa has his own postal code? Sweet deal! It's H0H 0H0 (with zeros instead of the letter ‘o’) and it’s in Canada where postal codes are alphanumeric. Letters – the kind that bypass parents – used to end up undelivered because there was no centralized address for Kris Kringle. I'd like to live in Canada. Just not near Santa, please. He scares me.
10. Turkey for Christmas? Nope. Shrimp? Don't even think about it. For the Japanese it’s KFC. Since the beginning of this marketing campaign four decades ago, KFC has been associated with Christmas in the minds of the Japanese for generations, a tradition passed on from parent to child in spite of its commercialized beginnings. More than 240,000 barrels of chicken will be sold during Christmas, five to ten times its normal monthly sales. "In Japan, Christmas equals KFC." That's a lot of chicken.
What's something unique/crazy/cool that your family does?
Are there Christmas traditions you would like to start?