Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Traditions

Tradition:  the handing down of ...customs... from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.  (

Like most people, the traditions we hold truest and dearest to our hearts are ones we practiced as children; Jeff and I are passing on to our own children the same customs we enjoyed ourselves.  However, there are a few, brand new traditions that we started with our little family, and our Picnic Dinner in front of the Tree is my all-time favorite new tradition.

Early in December, after our tree has been trimmed, we choose a weekend night for our annual dinner.  This year, the seasoned picnickers were able to help me plan the menu, though it always includes one important component:  it is what we call a "dippin' dinner."  Thus, no forks or spoons are allowed for the eating of the meal; instead, in order to be included, it must be something easily dipped and/or eaten without utensils. 

 This year's spread:  crudites and dressing; cheese and crackers; oven baked crispy chicken strips; mini turkey hot dogs, wrapped in cresent rolls; mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce; sweet potato fries with ketchup; chips and salsa; edamame.
 We move the glass top table out and spread a festive tablecloth on the floor; the kids love to picnic in their pajamas, which buys them more time at the end of the night, too....
 The requisite family photo! 
 In keeping with dinner's theme, dessert is always fondue.  Or as Leo insists, "It's FUNdue." 
 After fundue (when we fundid) we read stories aloud in front of the tree.
I hope this is a December tradition that lasts for decades...and for generations. 

Christmas Eve Tea

 Last year, I wrote about a beloved, cherished Christmas Eve tradition - tea and cookies shared with my mother and my grandmother.  (Please, take one moment to re-read Infusion)  As I described, this tradition has morphed and changed in the years since my own grandmother passed away, and while it is still one of my favorite customs, it has not felt quite right.

Until this year. 

Dressed in their finest; ready for tea
The table, so beautifully set and ready for young tea-goers

Nibbles and sweets
Pouring tea...
(Er, that would be cocoa....) in the very same Santa teapot that my own grandmother and I were served from...

The first of many Christmas Eve teas!
 ...and finally, there is, what we call, The Reading.

I have never missed a Reading.  On Christmas Eve, regardless of my age, my father has read "T'was the Night Before Christmas" to me.  Years that my brother could not join us, our dad called and read to him over the phone.  One time, he even called Adam when he was driving a taxi cab; Adam pulled over to hear the reading.  I do not know how it could possibly be Christmas without it, because it is my father's voice that seems to make the Magic of Santa all the more real, as if his intonation of the story is the summons for Santa to come.

But the most beloved and endearing part of The Reading is that my father becomes so verklempt every single time he reads it.  I don't even know why, exactly, but I do know that the catch in his voice, the quiet, higher pitched voice he uses, is beautiful and sweet and overflowing with his love for us.

And this is just one of one million other reasons why we love him so.

"...and laying a finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod..."
"On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen!..."

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