Monday, December 14, 2009

"Fill up the stocking"*

Holiday traditions come in all shapes in sizes. As a kid, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was when Santa would leave our filled stockings for us at the end of our beds. It was so exciting to wake up on Christmas morning and not even have to get out of bed to find our first presents.

All five of us (my two older sisters, me, my younger sister, and my younger brother) used to gather together on one bed and open up all out stocking gifts. As my older sisters got older, us younger kids used to open up our stockings first, then we'd go wake up my older sisters and watch them open up their stockings. This was a nice tradition for my parents too because it meant they got to sleep in a little later.

Oh, and we always got oranges in our stockings, which seems like it would be lame, but I remember it as a nice treat. The orange-in-the-stocking tradition is one that carried over into my adult life (it seems Santa remembers about such things even as we get older). Many of the traditions I had as a kid have faded away, but many new ones have taken their places.

Making Christmas cookies with my niece and nephew is one of those new, but at the same time old, traditions. I used to make Christmas cookies with my Nana (my great grandmother). Then she stopped coming up north for the holidays because it was just too cold for her. She passed away at the ripe old age of 96, but I feel a little like I'm carrying on her tradition in a new way with my sister's kids.

Unlike last year, we didn't have any lady-licking incidences this year, but I paid homage to that by making a snowman and gingerbread lady the centerpiece of my cookies.

(These are the cookies I decorated...notice the snowman and his gingerbread wife.)

(My ten-year-old nephew decorated these cookies. He and his friend also made a really cool gingerbread house of Hagrid's hut, but I forgot to take a picture of it.)

(My four-year-old niece decorated these. She was very meticulous and seemed to have a grand plan for each one.)

(These ones were decorated by my three-year-old nephew...he did most of the decorating by himself, but my sister did give him some help with the big gingerbread lady!)

(And because I didn't want my sister to feel left out, here's her cookies, including the big gingerbread lady.)

It was definitely a fun afternoon. What are your favorite holiday traditions?

*Jerry Herman