Traditions have always been a huge part of my life.
My family is one of those families that punctuates every day life with little rituals that we do.
Like my dad bringing me a coffee when I first get to work
Like getting to pick what you want for dinner on your birthday
Like going to McDonalds for breakfast after the Dawn Parade Service on ANZAC Day.
I love traditions, because they generate not just a sense of occasion, but also identification.
They help navigate you, linking you back to a community, connecting you with the spirit of something much bigger than yourself.
Traditions are important because they lay a part of the narrative of our lives. They are regular things which come and go but can always be counted on and have a meaning bigger than the action itself.
They’re almost sacramental, something which in action doesn’t genuinely reflect the enormity of the spirit behind it.
I think about traditions a lot more around Christmas because my family have SO many!
We are a little obsessed with Christmas. It is a huge part of our family narrative.
Both my mum and my nana (who are both born in December) have the middle name Noelle and that’s just the start of the family legacy to Christmas.
So I thought I’d share some of our traditions, components of my family narrative, and I’d love it if you’d share yours in the comments below!
So here it is. A list of things that absolutely MUST happen at Christmas time.
Firstly – The tree and decorations must begin their set up on the 1st of December and come down the 6th of January. There’s a lot of Christmas, especially in my mum and dad’s house… if you want proof here it is. https://brighteyesbigworld.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/ready-for-christmas-christmas-at-my-parents/
For as long as I can remember we have put up our Christmas tree on this day, before we lived with my nana, we’d go around to nana and granddad’s house and help them decorate their tree too, and there would be familiar ornaments like the Rock and Roll Santa who sings ‘jingle all the way’ but as a rock song, the ‘we wish you a merry christmas’ mouse that sings at a million miles an hour and I’d play with my toys beneath the tree in very special Christmas related games. There’s the nativity that belonged to my nana, my stocking made by my mum, and two ornaments which belonged to my great grandmother that to this day get hung on the tree.
Secondly – A commitment to Garfield Comics for the month of December. Garfield does Christmas well. Like me, that big ginger cat is obsessed with the festive season and the comic strips for the month of December are all Christmas related. For the month of December I ritually check the daily comics in the morning. Not because they are particularly funny, but because it is what I do. Garfield has been a part of my life for ages, when my brother and I would get the books out from the local library when we were younger, and then again when we ended up evacuated to the air port hotel in Northern Ireland in July 2000, as a result of the orange order. I got the 25 year anniversary book and read it end to end several times. Garfield isn’t just a Christmas thing, it’s a family thing for me.
Thirdly – Dennys for Breakfast with my dad and brother. I work for my family business, and over the Christmas break when we operate on skeleton staff, dad, Matthew and I will always stop at Dennys for breakfast before work. I am a massive fan of Dennys at the worst of times (Super Burgers and oh my gosh don’t get me started on the new Chilli potato waffle things!) So the budget breakfast with a side of bacon and GALLONS of that filter coffee on December 24th is a part of Christmas for me. Actually it is a part that travels all the way through into the New Year!
Fourthly – Certain Christmas Movies and Shows. We all have them. For my family they are generally, Home Alone 1 + 2, Christmas with the Kranks, Santa Clause (with Tim Allen, Tim Allen is a BIG part of Christmas) Santa Claus (with the Elf Patch and the guy from 3rd Rock from the Sun) Any combination of Michael Buble and Christmas… (eagerly anticipating the New Zealand screening of this year’s special tonight!!!) And Grumpy Men’s Guide to Christmas (this BBC special that is the same repeated every year… dad loves it) These movies are crucial and if we didn’t watch them it wouldn’t feel like Christmas.
Fifthly – Food. There is this infamous story in my family about the year I cast aside interest in any presents and instead lavished my delight on a packet of Twisties which I completely demolished in the space of a day. Equally so the Christmas Dinner that my brother looked that the Turkey and Ham and super yum food and asked where the Sausages were – so now every year we have had sausages with our Christmas Dinner. Food is a huge part of it. The whole thing starts with Christmas Eve Dinner, which has always been a party food occasion as long as I can remember. Oven Pizza, chips, dip, chocolate, biscuits, everything naughty and ESPEICALLY crumbed sausages – this is what my dad loves and we get them from a butcher in Milford. This year we are hosting Christmas Eve dinner at Josh and my house, and it is going to be EPIC! Generally we also watch Muppets Family Christmas on YouTube while we eat. Christmas Day we find some random café still open (usually one down the road where the people are Taoist) and have breakfast, lunch with my extended family and by the time we reach dinner it is SUPER YUMMY Ham and Turkey. In New Zealand we pretend it is winter despite it being summer and eat all those wintery foods. Boxing day however is either fish and chips or BBQ
Sixthly – Stilling Yourself. Jesus is the reason for the season, and Christmas is wonderful, but even more infinitely so when you remember that it celebrates the Joy of the World being born. Salvation to all men. Most of the time I join my mum and my nana for Midnight Mass and struggle to stay awake and help on the doors handing out fliers and everything is FREEZING COLD because it is so late in the night/early in the morning, despite it being boiling during the day. I am Pentecostal Christian but I LOVE going to mass with my mum and nana on Christmas.
So there it is. Six traditions (out of many, many more…) that my family do over the Christmas season, all a part of my narrative.
I would genuinely LOVE to hear about yours so comment below!
Merry Christmas! X