Monday, November 22, 2010

I Love Traditions! Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 23

Gratitude Challenge

Today I'm combining my gratitude with the blog cruise.  They go together.  I'm grateful for traditions.   I still cling to the ones I really love.  I'm like the father in "Fiddler on the Roof".  I love tradition.

Our Thanksgiving traditions have morphed over the years.  As a New Yorker, the parade has always been a big part of our day.    As children, we were watching the Macy's parade on TV,  as a teen and 20something, I was going into the city the night before bringing treats to the people blowing up the balloons getting them ready, In my 3os I was going in for the actual parade, and now I'm back  to watching it on TV again.

More than turkey and trimmings, in our family, the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner is  the pies.  My mother makes sure everyone had their favorite, and nobody likes the same thing.

Mostly, as a child, I remember there were people.  Lots and lots of people.  Every leaf was put into the table, and we were still elbow to elbow.   Before dinner, as part of grace, everyone would take a turn and say something they are thankful for.

After my father died, we began having Thanksgiving in my home.  It's a little bit easier.  He was always the center of the conversation,  so his absence feels a little less obvious this way.  it's not as big a production, but it's nice.

We begin decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving every year.

Christmas is where the serious traditions are.  We celebrate Advent, and that is a big deal.  We make sure to do  Advent activities every day.  We have an Advent calendar with little books telling the Christmas Story.  Each day after the book is read, it gets hung on the tree.  We also have a quilted countdown calendar with numbered pockets.  Each day the star moves one day closer Christmas day.  This year, I have made a big green tree of posterboard, and have some ornaments cut out of card stock.  Each day we will write a 'gift" on an ornament and put it on the tree.  We have extras so friends can join in.   I'm looking forward to this.

On Christmas Eve, we EAT.  My mother's mother was Italian,.  Since I was a child we all gather together to do the traditional fish dinner, along with lots of Italian food (antipasti, lasagna, etc).  My siblings, their children, friends and neighbors.  After dinner comes the cookies.  When we were younger, this time of night would become an open house.   All of our friends would drop by to celebrate with us because my mother's birthday is on Christmas Day.  It was sort of like her birthday party.  My mother and I begin baking and freezing them weeks ahead of time.  All my friends ever want for Christmas is a tin of my cookies.  :)

Cookie Platter

After dinner all the cousins stop running around long enough to open some presents.

When the evening winds down some go home, some to midnight mass.

Now, as adults, we each have Christmas day with our own children, and then gather together again in the evening to have dinner and a birthday party for Jesus and my mother.

Wreath Cake

I have always loved Advent and Christmas the most of all.  I hope I can pass on the love of the season and some traditions to my boys.  I have been buying an ornament of something that they love every year.  Someday, when they are grown, I will have a special box full of ornaments for their trees that will remind them of their childhood.

To read or add a gratitude post to the gratitude challenge visit Brenda's blog, Garden of Learning.