Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Magic

This year's Christmas photo
Barbara: It’s Christmas Eve Day and I am comfortably ensconced in my Christmas cozies with my family around me, ready to enjoy much food, laughter, camaraderie, (possibly some libations ;) ), and even some prezzies. It will be a celebration that marks Christmas for my family, but as far as celebrations go also shares a lot with any number of non-Christmas and non-Christian festivities enjoyed by people around the world. It is a coming-together of nearest and dearest, which can (under most circumstances and with the right mind-set) kindle a sense of abounding love and wonder and magic.

The other day, in honour of the season, I hosted one of my favourite holiday parties. Over the years we’ve had to pare down our annual Christmas party. Our house just isn’t big enough for large numbers. At first, we were sad to do it, but now we revel in the party that’s taken the big one’s place: our closest friends and their children (who are all around the same ages as our own kids) come over for chili and we squeeze into our living room and sing carols while Phil and our friend Pierre jam on guitars, Stefanie plays the piano, and several tambourines and shakers are passed around and abused flourished.

Deb and Luke at our party
It is fantastic. No, truly, it is FANTASTIC. Music is indeed a balm like no other, even for those of us with no musical talent (never mind voices like strangled cats––and I speak only of myself on that one).

While we jammed the other night, we ran through a gamut of songs, from overtly religious carols, to odes to winter, to pop songs about love and friendship. When we found ourselves singing John Lennon’s Imagine, it wasn’t hard in that moment to imagine a future world full of love and universal support. And when we got to “Imagine there’s … no religion”, someone called out, “Well, then we wouldn’t have Christmas!” True, technically speaking. But even Christmas was appropriated from a Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. So we may not always agree on what to or why we celebrate, but we will obviously always agree that we need and want to celebrate. And we also seem to agree on how we want to celebrate: taking some time off, gathering together, and sharing love, goodwill, food, and music.

Tonight, my family and I are going to dress up in our finery and we’re going to enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve dinner: soup and cold fishes and meats and cheeses. Then we clear the table and Santa comes—yes, on Christmas Eve, when it’s dark and candles and flickering lights abound. And the next morning, we sleep in until the kids come to our bed and the four of us take turns opening our stocking stuffers, where we’ve each got twelve items representing the twelve days of Christmas. The rest of Christmas day, we loll and play games and at dinner we eat turkey with all the trimmings. Can you see why it’s a favourite celebration?!

I’d love to hear how you celebrate your favourite festivity.

Merry Festivities to everyone everywhere!!

Deb: Our Christmas starts with a 30-year-old tradition: a friends-lunch and martini’s downtown. Over the years it has gone from multiple martoonies to one each. Ahh, the passage of time, huh? We then go to my Mom and Dad’s dressed in our best bib-and-tucker for a 60-year tradition, their annual drop in. The numbers have diminished and we host it now at their home, but it remains one of the great traditions from my childhood. It calls back a time when my family was just them and brings it right up to the present! It is an evening of many homemade hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, wine and scotch. Then we come home, put the stockings in place and fall asleep excitedly with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.

Christmas morning begins with the arrival of Mom and Dad at 9am. We have chocolate croissants, tea and coffee, and open our stockings. Then we dive into the gifts and, at the end of all that, usually noonish, we sit down to a formal breakfast complete with blueberry pancakes, eggs to order, bacon, sausage toast, tea and coffee. The breakfast table is all silver and I use my 200-year-old tea set for the table centre, filling the polished pots with fresh greens.

After this we settle in for Christmas movies, my Dad and I enjoying mid-movie naps. My husband starts the bird cooking as he flips through his new books. We all relax through the day with baked brie, fruit, rum and eggnog and Christmas baking. My brother and his family and another friend of ours who does not have family arrive around 5 and we have our big Christmas dinner at the red and green table. Those of you who have followed our blog may recall that setting a table is one of my great pleasures in life (see: The Cooking Club). Our Christmas china beams up at us, thrilled to be featured on this very special day. We laugh and eat and bask in the glow of traditions old and new. At the end of this most glorious of days, we fall into a long winters nap, and linger just a second before sleep to count our blessings.

PS Deb and Barbara will be back on New Year’s Eve Day—that’s one week, from now, folks. If you’re enjoying the holidays and catching up on some blog reading, may we recommend any of the wonderful blogs that our blog-friends write, or some oldies but goodies from our own list. Like:


  1. Being Jewish tonight we all get together and have Chinese food. A Jewish tradition around the world. :) Tomorrow I go to my neighbors to indulge in her Christmas Day, food, stockings for the neighborhood kids and grand kids. Leisurely day usually take in a movie or two. When I was a child we always went to Disneyland on Christmas Day. Not crowded at all in the 50's and 60's. Now I imagine it much more crowded. Happy Holidays to you all and your families. Your blog makes my days and I enjoy it so much.

  2. My family also has many traditions on Christmas day and Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve at 6 o'clock PM we always go over to my grandmothers and have a huge dinner. Then once everybody is done eating than we open our gifts.

    On Christmas Day however is a little different. My family wakes up at5am. We have always woke up at that time since I was little. Then we get were we want to sit and go through our stockings. They are alwyas filled with candys and lots of goodies and treats. Then it's time for out gifts. Of corse we have to video tape every single Christmas. But it dosen't bother me. Then after all of the gifts are open,we run up stairs to go to my grandmothers again for the morning meal, then it's up to my Great Grandmothers. That's my faviorte time because we have almost all my family there. My uncles and aunts are there and my cosins,and everybody are there. It's a little crowded because there are a lot A LOT of people in my family but somehow we manage to fit them all in there. After we all get there we all have prayer. Then it's dinner time AGAIN. We have everything,Every kind of food you can imagian. Then we sit in the family room and talk about great things that has happend over the years and pray more the ones that were not so great. Then OF corse we open our gifts. My grandmother is 92 years old and every year we tell her,not to worry about getting gifts,but bless her heart she manages to get us all a little something even know we expect any.

    AFTER all that then it's time for the family to come back to my home and we all sit and read the Christmas story from the Bible. We usually have people that come and sing at ours doors so after a long day,we open up our door just to stand and hear the beautiful Words of some of our faviorte holiday songs.

    I hope you all have a very blessed and magical Christmas. Both of your all's traditions sounds so beautiful and wounderful. And I hope you all have an alsome start to your 2011. I know I Will.

  3. Christmas has nothing to do with religion. I celebrate Christmas and never remember a time when I did not. Christmas, like any other festival is a time to be thankful for all the things that make life meaningful, including virtual friends like you.
    Merry Christmas, Barbara and Deb.

  4. I love to hear of people's holiday traditions, family to family and faith to faith. And while I agree with you Rayna that anyone and everyone can celebrate Christmas in any way they want to, it does include religion in any form and the secular world in any form. I like to think of Christmas as an inclusive celebration. The whole planet gets caught in it's beauty and what it means to any individual is what it means.

  5. My husband has to work, so we'll be packing up Christmas dinner and having it at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center's cafeteria over his "lunch" hour at about nine o'clock tonight. Then we'll wake the kids at 6:00 in the morning when he gets home to open presents before he goes to bed. At least we'll be together.

    Merry Christmas, Deb and Barbara and have a wonderful week off!

  6. Merry Christmas, Barbara and Deb and all bloggie folks!

    No traditions here - just catch as catch can. Even when we were an intact family, things were kooky for Christmas. In the beginning, ex-husband was in the Navy and would often be on a ship at Christmas. Then, he worked at a steel mill and would often have to take fire watch for at least 6 hours at some point during Christmas. Oh well, we always just finagled things as necessary. For example, at 6 weeks old, my son had his first Christmas on Dec. 23rd. LOL

    Now, kiddo goes to his dad's for most of Christmas Eve day & night. He just left. He was kind of frustrated because his dad was 2 hours late picking him up, but we spent the time at my best friend's house doing presents between our families. They got me a book I have sooooo been wanting! Yeah! I can't wait to read it! And, they got me a pack of needles that includes yarn needles and curved needles -- something I really needed! Yeah! And, we played Wii games so it was a good morning after all (a nice change from a lousy yesterday, I was in a wreck last night *sigh*). He comes back to me very, very late tonight for sleep and then up early in the morning for presents under the tree at my house and Christmas morning phone calls to my folks and my grandmother. And, I usually fix a special treat for breakfast. (Tomorrow, it will be cinnamon rolls.) Then, around 10:00 or 11:00, he'll go to his dad's house for 2nd Christmas. He'll eat lunch and open presents there. Usually, on or around Christmas Day each (it'll be this weekend this year because of how the holiday falls), kiddo will ride down to Mississippi with his dad for a couple of days to visit his grandma and grandpa. This year, his dad's new wife will go with them. He'll come back to me either very late Sunday night or before his father leaves for work early Monday morning.

    Oh yes, well there is one important Christmas Day tradition that always gets observed: the Christmas afternoon nap! LOL Whenever he leaves with his dad around 11:00 on Christmas morning, I always end up falling asleep for a couple of hours because I never get much if any sleep on Christmas Eve night. LOL

    I half expect that tomorrow evening, R will call and I'll head over to their house for a few hours of snacks and board games --- once we've all waken up from our naps. LOL If not, I have plenty of sewing and other chores to keep me busy around the house all weekend. Plus, I've gathered enough old sheets to rip into strips to make a rag rug for kiddo's bedroom floor. That's a good project that'll kill a lot of time this weekend. And, of course, there's my new book! :)

  7. LOLOL Oh, I did forget one Christmas tradition:

    Constantly trying to keep the cat out of the tree and rehanging ornaments he knocks down and bats all over the place. LOLOL At least now that he's an older kitty, he doesn't CLIMB the Christmas tree anymore. :)

  8. Happy Boxing Day to all dear, sweet Canadians!

    BTW, Christmas pics in return for y'all's:

    Love and hugs,

  9. These are fabulous traditions! It's wonderful that you are both so surrounded with friends, family and history. It is a time of the year I most regret being 2000 miles from my roots, though Christmas was very nice.

    I hope you both had VERY happy holidays!

  10. Merry Christmas ad Happy New Year to all of you. Looks like you two know how to have a relaxed and merry celebration. See you in the new year.


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