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 Post subject: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Yes, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving (in the US) yet, but if I don't plan things way in advance they just don't happen.

Anyway, my husband and I were married ten years before we had a kid, and neither of us really cared much so we never did anything like decorate or have a tree or stuff like that. But now poopieboy is 2 1/2 and starting to 'get' things like Christmas, so I want to start making more of an effort to make things special for him. I remember really enjoying the traditions and things we did around Christmas as a kid, but a lot (almost all) of them were religiously centered, so not really something I'm interested in continuing with my family. And some things that my family did (like putting out milk and cookies for Santa) are different from what my partner's family did (putting out mince pies and port for Father Christmas), so I feel like we have to choose whose tradition to follow.

I want to start some traditions that can make the season fun and are special to OUR family, but I need ideas! So tell me about the things you loved growing up, the things you do now, and the things you want to start doing. Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:11 pm 
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I think tamale making and cookie making were my favorite part of christmas growing up.

My great aunt/uncle would have a christmas eve party every year and invite people over for tamales. My mom would make lots of cookies and we'd bake together (those were her gifts for the family for the most part).

In terms of other things, we did have stockings hung in the house (no fireplace so they'd be hung somewhere). And it was pretty basic, besides visiting family on christmas eve, we'd open presents on christmas morning, then go to my grandparents or aunt/uncle's house to spend the day and have christmas dinner.

So basically, lots of food.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:13 pm 
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I do come from a religious family ish, but we had a bunch of traditions. 1. When we kids woke up we were allowed to open one stocking present in my parents' bedroom (ergo, waking them up at the same time) and when they got up we'd open 'Santa's' presents. We'd have breakfast (cinnamon rolls! Yum!), my mom would go for her run and then we'd have breakfast. After, we'd have some silent worship (we're Quaker)/bible reading before opening presents from everyone else. Everyone took a turn and we'd take our time about it.

Sometimes a fancy dinner, sometimes not. We also celebrated the twelve days of christmas so our parents would get us one present for each day. I thought was a neat way to draw it out for kids and for our parents to sort of focus more on spending a half hour together as a family each day than we might otherwise do. Our parents presents to each other by the end of the twelve days did usually end up being pretty funny (replacing kitchen utensils, random things like that).

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:20 pm 
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My parents used to throw the best Christmas Eve open house parties. Tons of family and friends would show up. Lots of food and decorations. I miss those parties.

My favorite part of Christmas morning was the stockings. My parents would stuff them full of the coolest most random stuff and hang them on our doorknobs the morning of. When we woke up we would all pile onto my parents bed and dump out our stockings and see what each of us got. It was magical. Then my dad would start a fire in the fireplace and my mom would make hot chocolate and we would open presents. Not that Christmas is about the stuff you get, it was just all of us being together and getting along.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:22 pm 
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As an adult, my husband and I have a tradition of watching Love Actually on Christmas Eve :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:32 pm 
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Helping my parents decorate was my favorite thing. We'd usually pick a night for it and also do cozy warm drinks like hot chocolate and/or yummy tea, and also have a warm cozy meal to go along with it too, nothing too fancy but still special. Then of course we'd play holiday music and just have fun! Also, I really loved picking out the xmas tree at those lots. We'd always do it at night, only time my parents could do it with their work schedules, and that made it extra fun for me I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:48 pm 
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I celebrate a traditional Jew Christmas...with Chinese food and a movie.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:06 pm 
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I loved helping my mom decorate! When I was little, we'd even do homemade ornaments--string pasta to make garlands, cut out foam shapes and decorate them with puffy paints and jewels and glitter and stuff... in hindsight, it was an obscenely ugly tree, but my mom and I had so much fun making it (and she still has tons of the homemade ornaments saved).

Christmas morning, my sister and I were allowed to go into my parents' room starting at 9 and we would bring our stockings and sit on their bed while they sat comfy still in bed and we'd open presents and squeal and whatnot. Then we had our traditional breakfast of mom's special-only-at-Christmas-once-a-year coffee cake, and then do presents at the tree.

Another big part of setting up the tree was setting up the electric train. We had an electric train that only came out at Christmas and we would set up under the tree. My sister and I went to great lengths to make an exciting new route every year.

Oh, and we always cut our own tree! There was a tree farm in my town that we'd go to, and going to cut the tree and then buy big cups of hot cocoa on the way home was always so exciting.

We had an Advent calendar, even though we weren't particularly religious. I just loved opening the little paper flaps each day to see a new picture. I think it could be fun to make your own countdown calendar that could have pictures of animals behind the little doors and then talk about how we look at these pictures of animals to remind us how every creature is special and important and deserves its life, so today we are celebrating the chicken! Or something like that.

I love holiday lights. I love sending cards. I think it becomes and feels special because we make it special. Even though I live alone now and I'm as atheist as I've ever been, I LOVE decorating my apartment with lights and my little fake tree, sitting down with a huge mug of cocoa to write and mail cards, playing ridiculous Christmas music, and watching Love Actually over and over and over.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:12 pm 
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I love all of these ideas! I think over the decade I didn't really celebrate I got a little jaded, and then I thought I should probably fake it for my kid because I feel like special holiday memories are something everyone should grow up with, but now I'm actually starting to think I might really enjoy this stuff! I actually WANT to drink hot cocoa and make ornaments and send Christmas cards and bake cookies (okay, I always want to bake cookies) and do all that stuff.

And Love Actually is one of the very few movies I already own because I love it unreasonably, so it will be watched many times this season.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:13 pm 
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Drink until "Jingle Bells" and obnoxious uncles fade away or disappear. Seriously though, I dislike xmas much more than I like it. I do, however, enjoy looking at christmas lights and sipping cocoa. There's always a couple neighborhoods that go all out. And I've watched Home Alone 1 & 2 every xmas for like 15 years now. Great movies. "Merry Christmas, you filthy animal!"

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:14 pm 
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poopiebitch wrote:

And Love Actually is one of the very few movies I already own because I love it unreasonably, so it will be watched many times this season.



I love it unreasonably too :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:16 pm 
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One of my favorite things we did when I was a kid was after dinner on Christmas Eve go out and drive around and look at lights that people put up. While we were gone "Rudolph" would have left us new pajamas to wear. It was cute.

Even though it has religious roots, I like advent calendars - there's so much room for creativity with them beyond cheap candy!

A side story - Our house was on the corner of our neighborhood street and a more busy road that goes through the town, in the valley between two hills. At the top of one of the hills was a traffic light. One Christmas eve, to try to convince me to go to bed my parents told me to look out the window for Rudolph's nose... and I saw it! It was even funnier when I was older and figured out what really happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:19 pm 
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Forgot about advent calendars. Even when we lived thousands of miles apart and I was well into my 20s my mom would send me advent calendars every year. She was very sad when she realized she couldn't anymore because I was vegan. I found it sad, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:25 pm 
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Vegan Essentials has a vegan advent calender! Granted, it's imported so it costs more than the ones from our youth, but still...

http://store.veganessentials.com/vegan-organic-chocolate-advent-calendar-by-moo-free-p3158.aspx

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:28 pm 
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We always did carrots out for the reindeer (I don't remember doing anything for Santa...) and watched White Christmas and Holiday Inn while baking cookies. Then Christmas Day was a movie and Chinese food, because we are Jewish, after all. (My dad is not...he's not religious, but he was raised in various Christian denominations) And we usually had a big tree that we decorated as a family.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:33 pm 
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Based on Scandinavian, our family always leaves a bowl of rice pudding out on the door step for the Tomten. The tomten (or tomte, or nisse), is a barn troll in Norwegian and Swedish folklore that is somewhat gnome-like that only children can see. If you leave him rice pudding on Christmas he'll make sure your farm prospers in the year to come. If you stiff him he'll mess up your crops. We never had a farm but we observed the tradition anyway. In the morning we'd check and the pudding will generally have been eaten (probably by a raccoon, but we always said it was the tomten).

When we're all together for Christmas, me and my brothers also have a relatively new stocking stuffing tradition. We all put on santa hats and smoke a little pot (I generally don't smoke during the year), and take turns filling eachothers' stockings.

One year after smoking we realized we hadn't left anything for the tomten. We decided it was important to do something, but we didn't want to make rice pudding. So we put some uncooked rice, sugar, and milk in a bowl and put it outside. We realized this sucked, so we put a couple Oreos in there as well. In the morning the tomten had not taken our offering, and we just had to throw the mess out. Luckily I think the tomten took pity on us because we were stoned at the time, and the year ended up being okay.


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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:41 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:43 pm 
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In Italy, when I was in elementary school, we used to make special Christmas cards for our parents, one each. It was basically just a piece of paper folded in two, the front side with our own Christmas-y drawings liberally scattered with glue and glitter (the rich kids could afford fancy colored glitter...I stuck to gold and silver). Also, me and my brother used to play games of "Spot the Christmas Ornament". I guess like "It's a green one! It's round!" etc.

We also used to go out in the countryside with my Dad and look for moss, you know...the real velvety one? I know this is more of a religious thing, but we used it to make the fields for our Nativity set. It was so much fun to delicately scrape the moss off the rocks...it could be translated into something not religious though. Like starting a tradition of decorating with things taken from a field?

As far as food, we always had Panettone. Nobody really liked it though, so even today it still shows up but it mostly goes uneaten. Also, my mother would cook an elaborate meal and me and my brother were in charge of putting together a menu that would be standing at each seat, and everybody would make a big deal about reading it and knowing what was next!

And last but not least, while today's version of it would be maybe looking at the windows in Saks Fifth Avenue or Macy's, we used to go around the various churches and look at the Nativity displays. It probably can't be done here, but in Italy it was really cool going into these dark, dank churches, smelling of candles and incense. It was not religious, while at the same time being very religious. I don't know. It's hard to explain, I think we just went for the atmosphere and the displays, since I love art and architecture and just plain old stuff. This was when I was a teenager and I would go with my friends or cousins. We really did not have much to do back then.


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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:48 pm 
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The thing I remember most is baking cookies with my mom, decorating the tree, and scrambling to wrap presents. We were allowed to open one on Christmas eve and the rest in the morning.

I was reading tips today on how to make Christmas more meaningful for your child for some reason and one thing they suggested is to do something Christmasy every day leading up to the holidday so it doesn't become all about gift giving. They mentioned posing and then sending holiday cards, baking and sending cookies, collecting donations for charity, and helping the kid make crafty presents for every person in the family.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Oh yeah I forgot a couple of my other favorite things. Xmas morning my dad and I would always make (the cubed style) hash browns. That was super important! And my parents would drink mimosas and always make sure to buy ginger ale as well so I could also have a "mimosa" too. We'd all drink them in the skinny champagne glasses, I loved that. Actually at a fairly young age they started making me a real, though weak, mimosa and the ginger ale was no longer. I think probably about 11? If I remember correctly I asked to try some of theirs and they thought there was no harm and I'd probably not actually like it anyhow, but I loved it and so that became something that felt really special to me every year, feeling so fancy!

Another tradition that I would definitely do if I had a kid, is my parents would always buy each of us (The both of them and me) some kind of PJ's, and those always had to be the first thing we opened and then we all had to put them on and wear them for the rest of the gift-opening. Hah. Typing that out I feel like that could easily be something many kids would hate. But I have always loved lounging in comfy PJs and fresh ones are just the best! Flannel usually I think. Mmmm comfy.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:02 pm 
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We didn't have a lot of strong traditions. We put up a tree and decorations, had an advent calendar even though we weren't religious, and Santa/my mom would put our stockings at the foot of our beds once they were filled so that when we woke up we could open them without dragging parents and/or grandparents out of bed. We did the rest of our presents once everyone was up on Christmas morning and then had an early dinner and that was pretty much it, I guess. It kind of depended a bit on whether we were spending it with my dad's side of the family or my mom's. My dad's sister married into an Italian-American family whose last name rhymes with spaghetti, so when we celebrated Christmas with them, the "traditional" Christmas Eve dinner was [their surname] Spaghetti.

Once my generation grew up and scattered, my Christmases stayed pretty simple. Most years I decorate my home because I love having a tree and shiny things and whatnot. I usually bake because I enjoy it. And the day itself is pretty much exchanging gifts with my immediate family (mom, sister, b-i-l, aunt, me) and a nice, mostly traditional-ish dinner that takes into account a vegan, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, an omnivore, a non-dairy pescetarian and a waffler.

Biker boy has some deep-seated issues with Christmas dating back to his childhood and his step-mom's pressure to make every Christmas "perfect." He chooses not to celebrate with his family at all because nothing he does lives up to her expectations. But he feels guilty about that so his self-imposed rule is that he can't spend Christmas with anyone he cares about because then he's choosing them over his family. Last year we'd been together 6 months and we exchanged gifts on the 24th, and I wasn't bothered by him spending the 25th with a buddy who was going through a nasty divorce, drinking whiskey and playing video games. This year I asked him to have dinner with my family because we've now been together a year and a half (or will be by Christmas) and if we're going to have a future together it's time to start establishing our own traditions. He's not ready to commit to dinner with my fam (see the part about choosing someone over his family/guilt) but we are going to wake up together Christmas morning and I'm going to prepare brunch while he meets some friends to ride, and then we'll have brunch together and exchange gifts before I head to my mom's without him. I think I'm OK with this for this year and we've talked about how if we stay together he'll need to come to terms with the fact that his significant other celebrates Christmas and wants him to be a part of it. I wouldn't mind coming up with something else we can do, maybe Christmas Eve, that could be the start of "our" Christmas tradition together...

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:08 pm 
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I'd wake up at the crack of dawn (while my two sisters and parents slept on) to open my stocking, then I'd eat all the chocolate from the stocking and read a double digest Archie comic until my family FINALLY woke up. We'd have a painfully long breakfast before finally getting to open presents, and then we'd sit around and read/play with toys all day until dinner. It always felt like the longest day in the world, and not always in a good way. My parents spent a LOT of time preparing the meal, so my sisters and I were usually bored. Sometimes we'd take a walk together, but it was usually freezing cold.

Leading up to xmas was usually more fun. Picking the tree, licking the beaters from my mum's baking, xmas concerts, decorating.

As an adult, we kind of do the same, except with booze. This year is my first not going to stay with my parents, and my first alone with my fiance, so it will be weird. We'll probably cook, drink, cuddle the cat, watch a movie, and invite our orphan friend over to play Pathfinder. I'm kind of stoked, but I'll miss my mum's epic stockings.


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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:10 pm 
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im in a similar situation because my husband and i have been together forever and are just now going to have a kid. my husband's family is Jewish though as far as i can tell they celebrated Hanukkah a bit when the kids were little and after that it was kinda like "meh" so the holidays dont really stir anything up in my husband.

my family is catholic but we were not raised very religiously. we always decorated the tree together. for some reason to me a plastic or fake Xmas tree is just totally wrong so i guess you could say a REAL tree is a tradition of mine. and going to get it and chop it down at a tree farm, etc.

my husband and i have waffled back and forth for years on what we do for the holidays. some years we didnt get a tree some years i went all out with the tree and decorations etc.
we have been decorating the outside of the house for several years now. we dont go crazy or anything but we do lights on the house and we have a weird menagerie of light up animals.
one year i was so grumpy and disillusioned with the holidays we actually celebrated "bah humbug" instead of Xmas and i threw what few presents we bought for each other on the floor in a corner.

one of the few traditions that sticks in my head is that Xmas morning when we would all get up before we would open presents we all had to get something warm to drink. so for my parents it was tea or coffee and for me and my bro prolly hot chocolate.
now when my husband and I do Xmas i always need to get a big cup of coffee first. it just feels cozy :-)

many people have different stocking related traditions. we never did. some people do stockings on Xmas eve and presents Xmas morning. we always did everything Xmas morning.
if my memory suits me correctly Xmas eve was usually spent with extended family.

one tradition very dear to my heart is my grandmother and mother used to always bake buttloads of sugar cookies for everyone in the family. i dont know how much i "helped" but i think i may have done some decorating.....or at the very least i ate a lot of dough.
when my grandmother passed it was kind of devastating to everyone and i dont think we did sugar cookies that year. the following year my mom asked me if i wanted to bake them with her and my dad and i just couldnt do it at that point, it was too sad for me.
that was many years ago and finally last year i went over to my mom and dad's and me and my mom baked cookies together. it was fun. i brought vegan sugar cookie dough and she made regular sugar cookies.

ive never made a gingerbread house but that seems to be a tradition some people have. not sure about the vegan-ness of gingerbread houses but since yuo are a baker i bet you could bust out a kickass vegan gingerbread house.

even though i wasnt really raised religiously and i am super non-religious i still like the idea of advent calendars. they are FUN. i found a lego advent calednar when i worked at a bookstore and we did that for awhile.

i think many people just sort of fall into traditions. you start doing something and then realize it becomes important to you and your family.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:28 pm 
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The only tradition we really have in my family is getting books for Christmas. I'm sure my mother started it as a way to encourage us all to sit down and be quiet after lunch, but it's not Christmas if I don't get a book to read.

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 Post subject: Re: Tell me about your Christmas traditions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:37 pm 
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I come from a totally non-religious family, but we have tons of christmas traditions that I love.

Decorating the tree together is the most fun and my parents have a big tree, so the whole extended family comes over to help. We have one really funny (and totally NOT holiday-related) CD of electric organ lounge music which has somehow become the soundtrack to the tree decorating every year. We pretty much only listen to this CD once a year, while decorating the tree, and it is funny and fun and silly and awesome. It puts everyone in a good mood!

When we were little, my brother and I were allowed to open all the little presents in our stockings as early as we wanted on xmas morning - so we would wake up at 5 or something hideous like that - and open them together. But then we couldn't wake our parents up until 7... so we both have really special memories of taking turns sleeping while the other one was on sentry duty, staring at the clock and waiting for the magic hour of 7 am to finally arrive. also, my brother and I often fought and didn't get along, but somehow having that special time together with the stockings where it was just us and not our parents was really special for both of us.

Somewhere along the line, as we got a little older, we also developed a tradition of having waffles for breakfast all together. These days, we go over to my parents' house and have waffles before we open the presents. My family is SUPER mellow about presents, but it's still a nice little part of the day. Nonetheless, I really look forward to our waffles and OJ time a lot.

Great thread, poopiebitch! Now I can't wait for Christmas! :)

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