Tuesday, November 6, 2012

on getting festive . . . or not

A picture of me getting festive with three great buddies nearly a decade ago! 

Of course, it is the holiday season.  As a Christian and an American (and no, I don't think the two have to go together!), I celebrate most of the "standard" holidays and special occasions:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, our anniversary, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Memorial Day.  My family is not a military family (aside from my granddad), so we don't do much for Veterans Day and all that.

As a pastor, though, many of those holidays are dominated by church work.  Christmas and Easter, obviously.  Most churches have some kind of Halloween celebration or Fall Festival.  A lot of churches have a community Thanksgiving service.  Any holiday that falls on a Sunday is not much of a holiday for us. 

Now that I'm a mom and we have a young one absorbing the entire universe all around her, I'm noticing that I am severely deficient in creating a holiday atmosphere.  It's like I'm missing the gene that enjoys fall decorating and baking Christmas cookies (oh wait, if we had an oven that freaking worked).  I was emailing with a good friend in Kansas who keeps me updated (hi Tai!), and mentioned this to her as well.

I remember little things about our house growing up that clued me in to the seasons:  a spring wreath on the front door, Mom's spiced tea in a percolator (the recipe is phenomenal:  pretty much just Tang and red hots), cheesecake on our birthdays (nobody really liked cake that much - cherry cheesecake was the preference). 

When I think of creating our own family's traditions, I mostly think of food.  Here's what I envision, in a world where I can think ahead and get it all together:

Thanksgiving:  this one is already taken.  Each year we go to the Tarwater family reunion in Sevierville, TN.  This is my husband's mother's mother's family, and this year will be 114th annual Thanksgiving feast.  Jeff's mom and stepdad have built a cabin on family land up there.  The fall colors are gorgeous, there is hiking and a hot tub.  It's basically amazing.

Easter:  church!  We usually go to some kind of sunrise service, which is sort of the Methodist-lazy version of an Easter vigil.  Easter dinner would ideally be lamb and spring vegetables (asparagus, green beans, radishes, new potatoes).  We would always dye eggs, and Mom would always do the most amazing Easter egg/present hunt in our backyard.  I feel like, from a faith perspective, she did a great job of emphasizing the gift of Easter over and above the commercial culture of Christmas.

Christmas:  church and more church.  My Christmas Eve usually ends with an 11:00 or midnight candlelight service.  The next day, Christmas dinner would be the whole nine:  ham, potatoes, green vegetables, salad, rolls, pie.  Mom always made this potato casserole in which we first boiled potatoes, then cooled and grated them, mixed with sour cream, green onions, and other things, and baked.  Can't remember exactly. 

We put up a Christmas tree each year, mostly at my husband's insistence. His beloved Memaw is the biggest Christmas decorator I have ever encountered. Fully decked.  And of course, now we are homeowners and I feel some responsiblity for putting up festive lights that will jack up my electricity bill for the winter.

Birthdays:  one of my favorite traditions in my family was Mom telling our birth stories each year on our birthday.  She would talk about being pregnant, what she remembered, when she went into labor, going to the hospital, and the birth (amazing to think that this was before the days of routine induction, so I was born three weeks late!).  She always said the exact times we were born, and so I remember that I was born at 3:23 pm.  I would love to cook the birthday person's favorite foods, and to do cheesecake - but skip the HFCS canned topping, and make some delicious homemade cherry or blueberry topping.

Anniversary:  since my folks divorced when I was so young, anniversaries were not much of a thing.  My best friend Amanda's family does something I always thought was great:  the children send their parents anniversary cards!  It's like saying, Hey, thanks for being amazing parents and being married and having this family.  Since we honeymooned in England and enjoyed it so so so much, I would love to do an English-food themed supper for our anniversary each year!  Bangers and mash, or pasties, or the like.

Memorial Day:  some kind of cookout to celebrate the warming weather, as well as grave decoration (isn't is funny how Decoration Day and Memorial Day have merged in our culture?  My granddad was a stickler that Memorial Day was only to honor the war dead).

Halloween:  I'm kind of a humbug on this one.  I was ruined on it in college, when every girl used it as an excuse to dress as a sexy bumblebee or whatever.  But I do like handing out candy, and our neighborhood is teeming with children.  I suppose Vicki Jo will want to start dressing up and going about soon enough.

Phew!  That was more than I thought I had in mind for our family celebrations. 

What traditions do you have, or have you started as a new family?


Amanda Rose said...

Dude I was all about Halloween back in the day and now I'm a humbug!!

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

Ug! Not sure why this posted twice... then I went to delete the extra one, and they both went away! Sorry!