As Christmas is coming up, I wanted to tell you a little about my family’s Christmas traditions. When we were all still living at home, Christmas Eve is when we celebrated Christmas. We would start around 4 or 5 pm with kiddie champagne for my sisters and me, and real champagne for my parents, with some chips, nuts and oven snacks. And then, before dinner, we would exchange gifts – which is an entire tradition of its own.
So what we do is draw names. We would write our names on small pieces of paper, put them in a bowl and draw names of who we need to buy a gift for. We’d set a spending limit, and give each other lists of what we wanted. And then my parents also bought each of us a gift separately. Usually pyjamas or our new Christmas outfits. Then it was on to dinner: either fondue or gourmet (which was either a stone grill or small pans on oily lamps). The rest of the evening would be spent in front of the television, watching Christmas movie (including my dad’s Christmas fave “The Sound of Music“) and board games, and the midnight Christmas service at our local church.
On the 25th, Christmas day itself, we would sleep in, have brunch and then start getting ready for our family’s Christmas party. Because at 3 pm, our family’s Christmas party starts, every year at a different location and organized by a different part of the family. But that is just one of our family’s Christmas party, it’s my dad’s family’s turn on the 25th. On my mother’s side of the family, we always celebrate together on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. And during those parties, we would each get two more gifts: all the children and grandchildren got gifts from the grandparents, and another one from our godparents.
Now that we don’t live at home anymore and my sisters have their own families, we spend Christmas Eve at our respective homes. We then meet for brunch at my parents’ house, and exchange our gifts. We still draw names, but now we each buy our parents an extra gift, just as they buy us an extra gift. And since we don’t see each other as much anymore, there are usually extra gifts, from Sinterklaas, holiday souvenirs, and more. Since all our birthdays are in January and February, birthday gifts are also often exchanged then. After that, we go to my dad’s family Christmas party together. Since my dad’s parents died, my dad now makes the traditional punch and we only exchange gifts between godparents and godchildren. Since my sister and cousins started having children, there are a few more gifts again as everyone likes to treat the little ones. And my mother’s familly Christmas party still happens on that same Sunday, with my grandmother still handing out gifts to everyone and all of us posing with her for our yearly Christmas photo.
The past few years, I was co-housing with friends so we had our own little Christmas party together. But now that I’m living alone, I either spent Christmas Eve with my friends or go for dinner at my parents’ house – since my mom won’t allow me to spend it alone. And apparently, spending it with my cat doesn’t count – or so she tells me.
So what are your Christmas traditions? Let me know!
Now, let’s get to those advent calendars!