Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas traditions

When I was a kid and even well into adulthood, there was a cigar that was passed around from one family member to the next each Christmas. If any uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, etc., were to be among the gathering on Christmas Day, one of them would probably be included. When I married, my husband was initiated into the annual exchange. I don't recall if any of his family were invited to join the group or not, nor do I remember exactly who started it.

All I know for sure is - if you were the recipient of the cigar one Christmas, it was your responsibility to watch over and guard it until the next Christmas and only then could you pass it along to another lucky person.

Various wrapping disguises were used ... cigar boxes, clarinet cases, whatever one's imagination could come up with to try and hide the fact that someone in the family was about to be honored with a cigar that - over the years - deteriorated almost to the point of extinction.

It was a lot of fun. Some years we couldn't even remember who had gotten the cigar the year before! When that happened, the person in whose safekeeping the cigar had been entrusted never admitted that they had it, but would go along with the group in their quandary. I wonder whatever became of that cigar?

A tradition that I began, and my daughter has continued with her own daughter, is a sort of treasure hunt on Christmas morning.

My husband and I - along with a whole lot of other parents, I'm sure - were usually bleary-eyed from all the frantic activity the night before, and really didn't want to be awakened and have to get up bright and early Christmas morning just because Santa had been there!

And so, we instituted this policy whereupon our daughter could open her stocking and nothing else until we were out of bed. In her stocking, in one of the small wrapped gifts, I would place the first clue to where she would eventually find her 'big' gift. This bought us maybe five more minutes.

She'd sometimes come in to our bedroom and want either her daddy or me to give her a hint. Or she'd ask, "What's this word?" (And as the years went by, of course, the clues had to become harder and harder.) I tell you, it was a stitch! He and I would be lying there, giggling softly and listening to her rummaging about until her shout of triumph would indicate that she'd found the next one.

I probably made up ten or so clues altogether. And like I said, it bought us another few minutes. Worth every second!

Now I've seen some of the clues she makes up for my granddaughter. Heavens! I would have trouble deciphering them!! But then, what can I tell you? My granddaughter's a genius. Trust me. You have the word of an unprejudiced grandmother.

Polimom published a post just the other day of a tradition in her family. It has to do with this picture ...

If you'd like to learn more about the history of those teddy bears, go here.

What about your family? Do you have any stories you'd like to share?


whalechaser said...

Sadly, I have no happy traditions to relay but I SO enjoyed yours! I was there and imagining all the fun to be had with your story. It was GREAT!

Tammy said...

I loved reading this post, as well as Polimom's. :)

I would say my kids' favorite Christmas tradition is our Christmas Eve dinner. Each member of the family is in charge of preparing 2 items for the dinner...2 very favorite choices or wants at the time. It really doesn't matter if they "go" with what anyone else is choosing. We end up with the STRANGEST variety for our buffet.

Last year's Christmas Eve menu:
Kayla - rolls, cracker tray with cheese balls
Katie - macaroni salad, tomato pizza
Eric - chocolate chip cookies
Emily - eggnog, baked macaroni & cheese
Me - salmon casserole, garden salad
Monty - chicken puffs, French potatoes

We are still in the stages of choosing this year's menu. :)

Tammy said...

P.S. (lol) did bridge go last night? And did I miss your museum post somehow?????

Craig Peihopa said...

As always your recollections convey a warmth and genuineness about them I find engaging and recognizable, only not to a home I have ever been in, just the feelings that you weave into your words find resonance and harmony with my feelings also.

We had few traditions in my home, but one that we have tried to maintain is the watching of Christmas lights and Carols at a park or grounds that flicker as we walk around a nativity scene to remind us of the essence of what Christmas means. I love that once a year I can overlook the faults of others and hope they overlook mine. It is a time when I am poised thinking about my mortality, my meaning and life's journey and also my progression, be that morally, ethically, spiritually or temporally. I feel it is like a pause before the next season of work begins again.

Goldenrod said...

Hi, Whale! Glad you enjoyed the cigar story, in particular. Is that unique or what?

And Tammy? Your Christmas Eve 'buffet' sounds a tad unusual, to say the least! Rrvit!! As to your other questions, bridge went fine ... nothing to 'write home about', but it was fun. Most enjoyable. And no, you didn't miss my museum followup post. I haven't been back yet. More later on that, OK? I promise.

It's wonderful to hear from you again, Craig. Try to keep in closer touch, will you please? :)

steven said...

hi goldenrod, i loved this story!! one of my friends invented a game that eventually got published. each christmas we would all gather together and play his game. the prizes were usually made up of stuff that we had received or (even better) found at a garage sale. bottom line - there was nothing you desperately wanted on the prize table, but there were items you definitely did not want. of course some of the less desirable items kept coming back and so there was tremednous laughter when we would have a pre-game peruse of the merch. and see some horrible tacky dusty chipped object that had survived several years of basement life in each of our respective basements, only to reappear at yet another christmas "do".

Goldenrod said...

"One man's trash is another man's treasure" is certainly a very old saw but it sounds, Steven, like your game prizes were really almost the lowest of even the lowest dregs! :) I can see where my cigar story might have reminded you of that game (prize end). Thanks for sharing!