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Holiday Traditions

In a world and in lives that are always changing, traditions are something we can count on. They're a tie to the past and a promise of the future all at once. And they offer us a sense of what's important to a person or family.

We asked our crew and members of our Forums to share their holiday traditions with us, and now we're sharing them with you. Have a holiday tradition of your own? Tell us about it in the comments section.

We'll start with the tradition in the featured image, courtesy of brendabethman ~ We decorate the tree with ornaments from the places we've traveled to. I even found a Christmas store in New Delhi, India and dragged my husband there—those are some of my favorite ornaments.

Prime rib roast and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner.

A walk in a local park, regardless of temps (it's been freezing some years!)–we started this when we moved to Kansas City eight years ago and have kept it up ever since.

nimikor ~ Each year we "ding-dong-ditch" the Twelve Days of Christmas to an unsuspecting person or family in need of some good cheer. Our children help choose 12 simple gifts and from December 13th to the 24th we leave one gift each night at their door with an anonymous note of good cheer. On the 24th we show up on the door-step and sing carols. It has been a great tradition and a real blessing seeing how happy this makes the recipient and how happy it has made our kids. Twenty-six years and counting, I can't even remember half of the people we have done this to but it has been a real unifying event for our family each year.

flaneuse ~ Our big tradition when we are living overseas is to go to as many Weinachtsmarkts as possible and to enjoy as much of the delicious foods and drinks :-) We usually go to the Munich markets the weekend before Christmas...our favorite. I usually pick out a special ornament or two. Christmas Day is usually very low key, just a day of relaxing, cooking, eating, going on a walk, FaceTiming with the folks back in the US, and the kids enjoying their gifts. The best is just being able to enjoy a holiday together, under the same roof!

Aeon ~ Years ago when I was working retail and only could get Thanksgiving and Christmas Day off, I was dead tired by Christmas and didn't have the energy to spend the day cooking or frankly be around my family. (Bad, I know, but so very true!) All I wanted to do when I woke up in the early afternoon on Christmas Day was eat and veg out. Asian restaurants and movie theatres are reliably open on Christmas, so that's how I spent my day. At first my family balked and chastised me for not spending the day with them, but slowly over the years everyone ended up joining me and actually enjoying having a non-traditional Christmas. We no longer give presents except for the kids.

Now, we make a semi-production out of trying out and cooking new food (we are not at all good but it's still fun trying new recipes) and we marathon a show. Last year it was Thai and Scandal; this year we're going to watch Sherlock and Luther on Netflix in the afternoon and go out to eat Japanese in the evening. A lot of my holiday memories with my family are far from "fond," so to have a truly fun tradition that we all look forward to isn't something I take for granted. Finally, Christmas Day is about good food, good times, and good company.

Badger ~ Three traditions:

1. This has multiple steps but it's sort of just one thing: on the 23rd (usually), I listen to Pärt's Passio Domini Nostri Iesu Christi secundum Joannem as a transition from the penitential period of Advent; then there's Midnight Mass, followed by cocktails and the opening of stuff in the stockings; finally, I try to listen to Handel's Messiah on Christmas Day, but certainly before Epiphany, when the tree comes down.

2. For Japanese people it's New Year that's the big deal, and part of the preparations involves cleaning the hell out of your house, which is awesome with a post-Christmas hangover, let me tell you. So, the cleaning and the hangover are coterminous traditions.

3. On January 1, there's all this stuff you're supposed to eat, like soup with glutinous rice cakes. I find the Japanese version kind of vile but learned recently that Koreans also have a New Year's Day rice cake soup which I enjoy much more. We also all have sushi (including the dog).

Tom ~ I host an "Orphan's Breakfast" on the morning of the 25th. It's a breakfast for anyone who doesn't have a place to be. Or, as it actually works out, anyone who wants to ditch their family. On the menu: waffles, ebleskivers, maple syrup, and mimosas.

BarryLee ~ Even before I was born my father’s extended family would gather at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house—or as we say in the South, "Granny’s house." Well, many decades have passed and Granny and Dad are both gone, but come 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve the remaining family will still gather. We feast on all those unhealthy Southern delights like barbeque pork, Brunswick stew and of course fried chicken. We all joke that we may not know what’s happening tomorrow, but we know where we’ll be on Christmas Eve at 4:00.

Barb ~ Since our girls were little, we select a hardcover Christmas book and write on the inside what has happened over the last year. It has been a great way to remember years past when we pull them out each year.

Flinx ~ Christmas Eve we gather at my in-laws' place and do a white-elephant gift exchange over snacks and wine. Some of the stuff we've seen is truly hideous, but there are usually a fair amount of useful things offered up too. I can still hear the groans and giggles from last year over the Scooby-Doo Chia Pet, heh!

Christmas Day is spent at my Mom's place with my sis and her kids. Once again, snacks are the order of the day, with an emphasis on "low-key." Except for the kids. ...  The kids are usually bouncing off the walls.

TavaPeak ~ My father-in-law didn't like to buy gifts, so after all the other gifts were opened, he'd summon us to the table to play poker. He put cash in different denominations into no-peek white envelopes, and whoever won the hand could choose an envelope....or steal someone else's envelope. Once you won a hand, you were out of the game. The envelopes weren't opened until the end, and then we'd see who won the $100 bill, and who won the $5.

My husband carries on the Christmas poker tradition now that his father is gone. My kids have been known to tell folks at church that they couldn't wait to get home after the service so they could win big money at poker.

Mausermama ~ We also observe Advent in our home. For me it's a period of preparation.

nsh ~ We always listen to Cinnamon Bear (an old radio program for kids from the 30s). You listen to one installation of it every day of the season. You can listen to it for free anytime online. So much fun to enjoy, even as an adult!

Darcy ~ A new tradition I'm hoping to start this year with friends/family: make an all-day recipe (I think we're going with Rick Bayless' Oaxacan Black Mole) with wine, cider, and music to keep us going, feast, and then go on a night walk/hike in the dark with the dogs. Ichiro's tradition is hanging out in the kitchen at our feet while we cook, hoping we drop food.

Update: Oaxacan Black Mole seemed a little too time consuming with everything else going on, so we opted for Douglas Fir Shortbread Cookies, made with fresh and dried douglas fir needles.

Holiday Traditions | TOM BIHN

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.

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