As promised, here is a post about Christmas traditions with my family - since it will be my first Christmas away from my family.
In Christmas' past, my father, who works for the Forest Service had a permit and we'd trek out into the Nat'l Forest to pick out our tree. The five of us would load into the truck with our hats and mittens and a thermos of hot cocoa, and once we found the perfect tree, Dad would take the saw to it and voila. These days, we pick out our tree pre-cut and cart it home. Our ceilings are ten feet, so our tree is always massive. In the days before any of us girls went off to college, we'd take one of the early weekends in December to decorate the tree. Each of us three have a hallmark ornament for each Christmas and we'd cover the tree in ornaments, lights, ribbons, and candy canes. The cats drink the water in the tree stand, they do love their pine water. We'd also take the weekend to bake cookies and breads while listening to Christmas carols. We hung up the stockings and wrapped garland around the house.
On Christmas Eve, we eat a big dinner. Usually we have salmon and shrimp, while my dad always has some oyster soup...blech. Then, we get ready for midnight mass (which is usually at 9/10pm) and afterwards, we drive around looking at Christmas decorations and lights around the the town.
Then we snuggled into bed and waited for Santa. In the morning, we snuck downstairs and saw the tree all lit up and in the dark morning, it cast the living room in a warm glow. Our stockings, crocheted by my grandmother, were laid in front of the tree filled with little goodies. When our parents came downstairs, we all got a pastry and cup of coffee or cocoa and settled around the tree to open the presents - one gift opened by each person at a time. When this was done, the cats would play with the wrapping paper and we would try out our gifts and play any CDs we had received.
We had another big meal in the afternoon with turkey and salads and such, and then would relax and do nothing for the rest of the day. It was magical. I'll really miss the traditions this Christmas, but I'll also be making new memories, and having new explorations.