Archive for the ‘traditions’ Category

Note: Today’s post was prompted by yesterday’s post about Christmas mishaps.  I have a feeling we’ll see a few more on the topic this year.  Enjoy.

Last year’s Christmas mishap might just have started a Christmas tradition in this family!

The turkey went into the oven and we waited and waited and waited.  My son went to go baste the turkey for me and he came out saying that the bird was cooking really slowly and it would be a lot longer until it was ready.  We put in a movie and waited and waited and waited.

My daughter went in to check and then called her boyfriend in to the kitchen.  There was some discussion in there.  We were all pretty much starving by then.  Out they come with sad looks to tell me that the element in my oven is not working.  There is only one working, the bottom one.  The top element is not working at all.  That bird was not cooking.

What to do?  Well, I will eat just about anything.  My son has learned to eat all sorts of food even though he was pretty fussy about food up through high school.  But my daughter is really picky.  We all looked at each other wondering what would make Tina happy.

We could go out to eat but what was open at 7 o’clock at night on Christmas Day besides Denny’s?

Chinese food!  We looked at Tina.  She must have been really hungry.  She agreed.  So we piled into two cars and off we went to a Chinese buffet where we were seated immediately and we all found enough to make our tummies full and our hearts happy!

It turned out so well that Tina said that we should do that every year.  Why dirty the kitchen and work so hard in there when we could just enjoy the day and go out for Chinese for dinner?  So this year, that’s one of the ideas on the table.  It’s too soon to decide and we’ll have a couple of different people for Christmas dinner this year so we’ll see but that idea is not yet off the table!

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(Slightly modified from a previous post on this same blog.)

When my kids were little, we used to drive around looking at Christmas decorations. We lived in Glendale in southern California, near Pasadena. It was a tradition my now ex-husband and I started efore the kids were born. We would drive around looking at the decorations and taking his niece or friends and relatives with us. Our regular route included the Balian mansion (the Balian family owns a creamery and a well known local brand of ice cream), Christmas Tree Lane, and points in between. We went every single year. When the kids were born, we continued the same route, not missing a year until we moved away four five Christmases ago.

On one of the drives to the Balian mansion and then to Christmas Tree Lane, we stumbled across a church that had a live drive-thru nativity presentation. We drove through and loved it. Every year we had to find out in advance which one weekend the performance would be held so we wouldn’t miss it. It was worth having to wait in a long line that wrapped around three or four blocks.  Sometimes, when we finished the drive through the whole nativity, we would go to the end of the line and wait to drive through again.

After my divorce, I tried to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. I continued to take them to see the lights at the Balian mansion in Pasadena and to Christmas Tree Lane and then to the drive-thru nativity. When my youngest, Susie, was about four years old, we were on our way to see the drive-thru nativity. We drove on the 134 freeway and passed by the Huntington Hotel and the Colorado Street bridge that had been closed for earthquake retro-fitting for many years.  On that one particular night the bridge had been re-opened for the first time and was brightly lit. We noticed and commented on  it as we drove by.  We proceeded toward our route to see the decorations and lights.   As we drove through the nativity, I told them story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem  and having to find refuge in Bethlehem just in time for the birth of the Christ child, as I told it every year.  After the drive-thru nativity,  Susie fell asleep.  The two older kids and I drove around a bit looking at more decorations before heading  home.  Susie was asleep the whole time. As we were driving past the lit up bridge on the way home, Susie opened one eye and we heard her tiny, weary voice say, “Baby Jesus Bridge.” We laughed and asked her what she had said and she repeated it, “Baby Jesus Bridge.” Somehow, she had equated the lit up bridge with the drive-thru nativity during which Baby Jesus was discussed.

We thought it was funny. Susie fell back to sleep and we drove on home. After that night, every single time we drove by that bridge (which was at least four times a week) she would shout out “Baby Jesus Bridge” as we drove by there.  It became a family way to describe how far from home we were  when we traveled on that road.  The rest of us began to call it the Baby Jesus Bridge, too.   As they grew older, everyone was told about the Baby Jesus Bridge: family, friends young and old, and anyone that happened to be in the car with us as we drove by that point.   In a very short time, even their friends were calling it the  Baby Jesus Bridge.  Everyone we knew referred to it that way.  We still call it that. Susie is now nineteen and we still all call it the Baby Jesus Bridge.

Some traditions, like driving around to view Christmas decorations, are intentional. Some, like the Baby Jesus Bridge, are accidental and somehow more special.  I don’t live in southern California any more but I still have very fond memories of those Christmas excursions and of the Baby Jesus Bridge.

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It wasn’t until I got an email from my son asking me for a recipe for Spanish rice to make for dinner tonight that I realized it is Cinco de Mayo.  I sent him the recipe, all the while thinking back on all the years when I went all out for Cinco de Mayo and other “ethnic” holidays.

When my kids were little, I was a Cub Scout leader and a Girl Scout leader at the same time.  I enjoyed teaching them about different cultures and usually went all out to learn about the cultures myself and then to do a craft and an edible treat with my scouts, both boy and girl.

One year, we got all of them together, 22 Brownies and 14 Cub Scouts, and made crafts and ate Mexican food at my house.  I did have a couple of other adults to help with the kids and my own kids loved being the hosts and the “know it alls” for the day.  On that day we made cascarones (hollowed out eggs filled with confetti that are then cracked on someone’s shoulder or head),  papel picado (colorful tissue paper banners that are used to decorate rooms, yards, etc.), and crepe paper flowers.

We also played loteria (a picture bingo game) between making our crafts.  I fed them all tacos and burritos and for dessert, we made our own sopaipillas (these are kind of like tortillas but they are made with sugar and cinnamon in the dough then deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar).

We played Mexican music and I taught them  the lyrics to De Colores. They played in the yard until they grew tired.  Neighbors came by and enjoyed watching the kids and quizzing them about what they were doing.  Some of them stayed long enough to taste some treats and make some crafts.  And of course, there were lots of pictures taken!

As much work as it all was, it was fun and very rewarding!

Happy Cinco de mayo!


My girls (in another lifetime) in their Cinco de Mayo outfits!

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Watching certain holiday or Christmas movies has become a tradition in my family. Christmas is not Christmas if I don’t get to watch It’s A Wonderful Life. There have been a few years when I don’t get to watch it and it doesn’t feel like Christmas has come and gone. There are other favorites but that’s my all time favorite Christmas movie. When I was a child, we used to watch Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in White Christmas. That became a favorite too, however if I don’t get to see that one, it’s not horrible. But if I don’t get to see It’s A Wonderful Life, it just isn’t Christmas. (more…)

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