Ah, holiday traditions....as "tradition"-oriented as the military is, it's pretty hard for military families to make and keep their own. Moving every few years, having a loved one either deployed to Afghanistan or on a hardship tour; these and other things can interfere with having some of the regular traditions that other families enjoy. Nevertheless, even though we're often far away from our extended families, we find a way to make the holiday season something special for ourselves, and especially for our kids. So with this in mind I've decided to keep some of my family's holiday events going, and hopefully sometime in the future we can enjoy them with the rest of our family back in Illinois and Florida.
I've never been a football fan (smack me now), but there are two days a year I enjoy it: Thanksgiving Day, and of course the Super Bowl (which I admit I watch mostly for the commercials). My family usually picks a team to root for (and sometimes to make it interesting we'll assign each other opposing teams). This year my husband's mother will be here, so I'll prep as much as I can the day before, and hopefully the small dinner I made in Korea last year (recipes are here) can be increased to feed nine this year.
The first weekend in December is tree-trimming day. Although my parents have boxes of ornaments (many from Germany) they've added to over the years, we're starting from scratch, so part of the fun will be picking out decorations with the Vs. Later in the evening we'll decorate the tree and have some hot chocolate (although to be honest, this is usually a lot funnier with my parents, as my dad likes to add brandy to his coffee and then offer advice and direction until my mom ends up throwing a snow angel at his head).
Then we pick a day to make Christmas treats.... and this is usually an Epic Roth Event. My mother's quite the Pâtissier, so she plans the menu (divinity, various flavors of rock candy [one memorable year this resulted in a cinnamon flavor that was so hot it singed the eyebrows while being made - this was a lot of fun to give to unsuspecting guests], peanut brittle (her father's secret recipe), fudge, sugar cookies, chocolate dipped peanut butter Ritz crackers (usually my dad's department; again, lots of fun if he's having some brandy while acting as my mom's sous chef), and my husband's favorite, peanut butter cookies topped with a Hershey's kiss. This event occasionally has resulted in a food fight; one year the kitchen was absolutely coated in flour and chocolate.
Christmas Eve has always been my favorite.... we go to the mall (usually the quietest day out of the entire crazed shopping season) and pick out some last-minute gifts, then sit down to a huge seafood dinner by candlelight. Last year in Korea, Husband and I wrapped the rest of the Vs' presents while consuming the better part of a bottle of Moscato.
I've noticed that as I get older, having kids and a husband of my own, traditions are becoming more important to me. They're a way to mark time in a manner that's unique to my family, and hopefully tie extended members of the family together. Ten years ago I'd never have imagined thinking of starting traditions with a family of my own; now I'm imagining holidays with my grandchildren.
Sniff. Yep, snarky little me, getting teary-eyed thinking of my future daughters-in-law and dreaming up grandchildren. Damn holidays ;).
What are some of your family's traditions?