Strange as it might sound, growing up in South Carolina, my father always cooked his special oyster stew on Christmas Eve, and we children were not allowed to open any presents until after the noon meal on Christmas day. My mother always baked a turkey along with the same sweet potato dressing recipe I posted at Thanksgiving recently, rice 'n turkey gravy (with chopped eggs and turkey giblets), green beans, her special cornbread dressing (which I'm not allowed to let the recipe out of the family treasures) and ambrosia (sliced oranges, chopped pineapple, English walnuts and shredded fresh cocoanut, which we opened and cut from the shell the night before. My wife and I still serve the same stew on Christmas Eve here in Chattanooga, TN., and serve mostly the same menu 7 decades later.
Wonderful story and family tradition!
The one that I recently had the pleasure of having, involved a Marriott stay (RI) in Williamsburg, Va!
The Christmas Eve dinner at The Williamsburg Inn, was hosted by the Great-Grandson of Charles Dickens and he performed segments of "A Christmas Carol. The meal, decorations and time was wonderful for all!
The next day a buffet at The Williamsburg Inn followed by a walk around The Williamsburg grounds was also spectacular.
Thanks for reminding me! Here are a few photo's:
The Williamsburg Inn is very pretty at Christmas. It's nice, but staying at the RI, nearby will allow you to afford to dine here with the room cost savings you will enjoy!
A wonderful show was performed by Dickens" heir, and a beautiful meal was served as well!
Nearby Yorktown and Jamestown were great places to visit during the Christmas week!
Fred, thank-you again for your provocative post!
Williamsburg was really beautiful this time of year! Here are a few more photo's that show the beauty of Williamsburg:
The train set-up at The Williamsburg Inn was one of the many Christmas highlights.
How is this for a Christmas cake?
Plenty of wonderful Christmas sights in Williamsburg!
Wonderful place to visit anytime!
We try to get involved in some sort of community service or project during the holidays, whether serving meals or working in a community kitchen, playing music or serving in group, nursing or veterans homes, delivering clothes/blankets to shelters, even serving up meals to the homeless in the park. One of my favorite things to do is assist with the delivery of boxes of food items, gifts and Christmas trees to local families in need. It's always wonderful to see the lit up faces when you arrive at their front doors, and time well spent meeting people. Of course it's good to be involved in worthy community projects all throughout the year, but at Christmastime, taking a little bit of time out to get out there into the community is one tradition that I have always not only enjoyed, but needed.
As for other family traditions, We still make an annual pilgrimage down Christmas Tree Lane (groan ) in the car at some point during the season.
For Christmas Eve, one package gets opened Christmas eve (and usually it's slippers or jammies), the rest on Christmas day. Enchiladas, beans, rice and cornbread have always been the traditional Christmas Eve meal, Sausage and Egg casserole with cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit with yogurt for Christmas breakfast. Christmas dinner has evolved over time. We no longer serve yams or sweet potatoes, as it never gets eaten and usually tossed (I will try fschumperts recipe!) and as good as the recipes are, the same goes for jello salads, no matter how delightful or gourmet (and why is that?). Green bean casseroles have also been banned, unless made from scratch.
When the kids were little, they would take turns putting baby Jesus to bed (in the manger scene on the mantle over the fireplace) and would also take turns each year placing the star at the top of the tree, which was a big event. We made and decorated Christmas cookies and baked a birthday cake for Jesus (which we don't do anymore since the kids are grown and gone and it also doesn't get eaten). Also of course, milk and Christmas cookies were left out for Santa, along with baby carrots for his reindeer. Finally, since our kids are millennials, Santa was (and actually still is ) tracked on NORAD's official Santa Tracker. Everyone still gets an orange in their stocking. My husband always gets beef jerky, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and Nutter Butters. The dogs get an extra treat. As you might gather, we're not that classy or refined, but these are our Christmas traditions, such as they are.
I like your tradition of spending Christmas in special places!
That sounds like a wonderful way to spend Christmas!
Another place that was wonderful for a Marriott Christmas is "Wentworth by the Sea"! It is a very nice place to enjoy at anytime, and they really make Christmas a special time for all!
A wonderful Marriott, if you ever get the chance to stay here!
Sounds like a great tradition. We would have a sumptuous dinner with all our extended family at our Grandparents' house and open a couple of minor presents on Christmas Eve when we came back from Midnight Mass. Since we lived on a farm in the boondocks the kids would yell to each other on Christmas Eve from farm to farm, which did nothing but get every dog within 10 miles barking. We'd then get up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa had brought us which was usually one major gift, some smaller ones maybe, nothing like today's opulence. But it was a holy and happy day for us.
We've had so many funny (and stupid at times) things happen at the holidays. I remember one year my dad decided it was ridiculous to spend a bunch of money on wrapping paper when we were just going to tear it up. He put our gifts in a paper grocery sack, wrote our name on the outside and stapled it. Well, we've never let him live it down and it wasn't the happiest Christmas for him with all our complaints!
With my own family, I bought an ornament every year for my daughter which she now has on her family tree and also wrote a hand-written letter each year to put in their stockings with uplifting things that happened that year and how proud I was of them. Still do it!
First, in self defense (because this is a pretty reverential group and post) , I'll open with the statement that we did/do each year have a Christmas dinner of gratitude where the family elders (now yours truly, through longetivity more than maturity, has become one) lead the discussion of acts of appreciation in the month of December leading up to the dinner (essentially the expected price of admission). Laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, working food kitchens, Toys for Tots, ringing the bell at Salvation Army kettles, the usual type of activities that can lend a hand, and it seems like each year someone comes up with an interesting new activity; one year we learned about gleaning and one of our college kids lead a clever canned food drive at his fraternity of food students would toss out anyway), this year, a family member bought a goat for a family through the Heifer program, for their nourishment, cheese, butter and milk needs, as well as apparently supplemental income. We had a good family discussion about levels of hunger and the impact on the goat's chances of making next year, which sets the tone for my next paragraph below.
Like trippin and several others in the thread, we've had a string of traditions run throughout our family Christmases, virtually all of them with an emphasis on wisecracking and challenging each other in busting chops (nature vs. nurture, you be the judge ). We went through a stage of white elephant gift exchanges with extravagant strategies and rules, and for a decade we had a Christmas Eve traditional party along the lines of Nickelodeon's Double Dare (w/slime) that included physical and culinary challenges (like eating a fish eye) and other wacky contests (with trash talking and razzing, of course) that determined an overall champion. But the one tradition that I've been aware of for more than 50 years is the annual family no holds barred poker game. We are now in our fourth generation of players (I can remember as a kid, getting my granddad's "medicine" in a Maalox bottle) and we have the best of time, without any major financial damage. And as my dad and uncles used to razz me back in the day about 'these stupid college boy games', I now find myself doing likewise to the crazy wild card games the teens play today, but what a great time (and oh yes, the women of course play and Granny will gladly bluff you out of your last nickel, smile and say, "I love you sweetie, Merry Christmas"!).
Very well said! How is it that we came the elder in the family, or the second class elders since (thank God) our parents are still alive? Too funny. I've tried - to no avail - to take presents out of the mix but there is one younger sister who insists we do gifts. I keep giving things I love and don't know if she does to try and get her to see the folly of her ways. Harrumph. I'm in for fun and games and keeping Christmas about Jesus and not presents since the youngest of my siblings is in her 40's. However, we do have fun and it was a nice party. I'd rather do something to help others but I guess I'm the only one in my family.
Hi all and Merry Christmas!
I think I must have been born a nerd -- or at least fighting, hating parents but loving cats and great books made me so. I remember one Christmas in particular as a child when I was very happy. The Christmas tree was up, my cat Jingles was doing his best to eat the tinsel, Santa Claus was in the process of coming down our street in suburban Philly, and there I was copying the text from an astronomy book (so far out of date now it's ridiculous). But sitting taking all the other in (and my parents mysteriously missing from a good fight for a change), I look on that as a very happy memory. My mother hated food and didn't cook most of the time, but she managed to do turkey, so the next day we had a turkey dinner. On other occasions we visited relatives, who were also always fighting, so that's part of the reason I'm so odd.
But this Christmas, which has been more religious for me than in past years and certainly than in my childhood (when we practiced no religion), I have felt happy, especially with the Venice trip. Yet I have mimicked some of my childhood behavior even as a nearly 62-year-old. I'm teaching a brand new course second semester on Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece, and have been reading a wonderful book on Egyptian religion in front of my (fake but pretty) Christmas tree with Josh Groban, Christina England, Charlotte Church, and John Talbot on my IPOD speaker.
So I guess what goes around comes around!