I want to hear about or see a holiday tradition, recipe or event. It can be any holiday you like or that is special to your family. With Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays coming up, those would be especially apt, but anything that is special for your family is fine. If you have pictures - it's a bonus! Whether it's your Mom's famous stuffing recipe, going caroling on Christmas Eve, Diwali dances, or even the inevitability of Great Aunt Polly having one too many brandies and knocking over the Christmas tree - I want to hear about it!!!
I figured I would take this opportunity to tell you about the Christmas tradition that I call the mad dash. It all starts two days before Christmas Eve when Santa comes to my house. He comes early because we will be out of town on the actual holidays and he thinks that the kids should have some Christmas memories of just our immediate family and home. It is always nice, this is the part of the holiday where I don't feel like I am forgetting to do something. I enjoy the holidays, but as far a relaxing goes, this is it.
The day before Christmas Eve we head down to Mom's. I help cook and get ready for the Christmas Eve Family Gathering. We will usually have a small dinner at Mom's on this night, where just my Mom, Tim, my sister and her family, and my family open gifts and hang out. The traditional meal of choice on this night is steaks and baked potatoes. No holiday food at Mom's. We decided that many years ago. And as far as holiday meals go...this one is my favorite.
On Christmas Eve morning my Mom's entire family (50+ people) gathers at the old Woodman of the World Lodge that my Papaw bought for our family gatherings. He bought the building because we got too big for his house. He should have thought about that before he had 7 kids, huh? This dinner is a giant pot luck and my Uncle Bo fries turkey. His turkey is the best turkey ever. After much eating, talking , and singing we do presents. Everyone buys Mamaw and Papaw presents and in return Mamaw and Papaw buy the great grand kids presents. The rest of us sit patiently and wait. When they are done, we play Dirty Santa. Dirty Santa with my family takes more than three hours to play. There is a lot of conniving and plotting. It is always fun.
After that there will be more visiting and music until eventually everyone drifts back to their own homes and holidays.
On Christmas morning we get in the car and drive the hour from Natchez to my Mamaw E.'s house. Mamaw E. is my Dad's Mom. Her family isn't much smaller than my other one, but we all celebrate at her house. There will be people in the kitchen, living room, hall, on the porch, and scattered through the yard. Again, this is a pot luck lunch, but we get Mamaw's wonderful country cooking. There is never a lack of fresh vegetables. Here there are always about 500 different conversations going on; you just have to pick what you want to talk about...politics, kids, crops, or local gossip. My Mamaw's brothers, who do not have kids of their own, will join us. Everyone gets a kick out of watching the kids, because believe me ...there are a million kids. Later in the day Mamaw will open her presents and she will give all of the little ones a gift. My Uncle Jim will hand out coins to the children for their coin collections.
Depending on what shift he is working, we will either do our small family Christmas at my Dad's Christmas night or some other night around then. At his house it is just mine and my sister's crews again. We eat, laugh and open gifts. My Daddy always gets Alisha and I the best gifts. He says that we are his babies, so he has to spend more on us than the babies. We enjoy this, because he is the only person in the world who feels this way :) But don't worry, Papa gets the babies plenty too. He pays for my niece's cell phone! Everyone gets spoiled.
So what about Randy's family you say? Well, i think it is a good thing that they aren't really gatherers, because I honestly don't know where I would squeeze them in. We usually try to spend New Years with either his brother or his Mom. Last year we went to Georgia and hung out with his Mom. Christmas time in the Georgia mountains is a lovely, so I am thinking that we might make that a tradition too.