Holiday Traditions

Thursday, December 13, 2012
I spent a little time this week thinking about holiday traditions that have developed in my life over the years. As I made a mental list, I was surprised by a pretty obvious trend: my holiday traditions center around friendships rather than family.

I suppose it's silly to be shocked by this revelation. My maternal grandparents were snowbirds during almost my entire childhood and as their only grandchildren, we didn't develop any holiday traditions on that side of the family, although we usually did (and do) have one sort of holiday gathering with my aunt and uncle. My father's family all hails from Chicagoland and although Christmas trips to Chi-town dominate my childhood holiday memories, since both my brother and I graduated high school, our trips to Chicago have become increasingly infrequent and less tied to the holiday season.So, for the time being, friends get to dominate my holiday season. It's quite lovely.

Here's a list of some of my favorite holiday traditions:

An annual wine, cheese, and gab fest with the girls from my college's student newspaper. For a bunch of former muckrakers, we clean up rather nicely. ;) This year's get-together is tomorrow. Eeeee! Excitement!

Make a batch of shitballs (peanut butter balls) with my friend Sarah. We've been making these each Christmas (although sometimes not until February, depending on how accommodating our schedules are) since we were sophomores in college, when we made the dreadful mistake of adding water to our melted chocolate. (Oh, the culinary mistakes one makes at age 19.) The chocolate ceased and our peanut balls took on a less than appetizing appearance, although I remember them still tasting pretty good. You say, shitballs. I say, warm Christmas feelings.  
Of course holiday movies factor into my Christmas traditions. Each season I like to watch Love Actually by myself or with my mom, Elf with anyone who happens to be around, and The Holiday . . . because Jude Law in glasses totally makes up Cameron Diaz's less than amazing performance. I got pretty brunt out A Christmas Story during my teenage years, but it's still a classic, I will watch a scene or two if it's on in the background.

The annual craft-o-thon over New Year's with a wonderful group of women bonded by crafts, college, and Ireland is a newer (and wonderful) addition to my holiday festivities. The picture below is the only one I could find in my files where we all look relatively normal. And trust me, any appearance of normalcy is clearly a facade.

Find the perfect Christmas tree with Andy. We have yet to do this. We've been holiday spirit procrastinators this year.

Not quite a holiday tradition yet since I've only done it twice, but I do try to make a batch of potato latkes at some point during Hanukkah each year.

What are some of your holiday traditions?


  1. New Year's Crafting Eve is easily one of my favorite new holiday traditions! I'm definitely saving some weird for those three glorious days.

    Can't wait!

  2. Ada, it sounds like you have many wonderful holiday traditions as well as friends to share those special memories with! I had to snicker at your pet name for the peanut butter balls. LOL! I can tell that you and Sarah must have a blast together. My family also enjoys a trek out into the mountains to find the perfect tree, and Elf is one of my favorite contemporary Christmas movies. Thank you for sharing your traditions!


  3. my friends and I do a baking day each year since college, but most of my family traditions change from year to year, and the tradition is just that the women in my family do something together during the season, an outing!

  4. Ada,still not sure what happened but I didn't received any updates from you for over 3 weeks. I started to get worried if all is fine up north. Must have been a glitch in the system!
    Oh, I can so relate to friends as chosen family. As I used to live in so many country in many parts of the world accommodating several languages and time zones, I love the holiday gathering on Skype. Its like an all day video meeting, where everyone pops in when time, joins for the coffee we share virtually and tells stories. Th laughter can be heard virtually worldwide. The peak of the season is December 21 - winter solstice when I leave any place I am, any city, hence DC now, and seek my time in forest, celebrating my universe, the turning of the light, being part of the entire circle of life. I make famous German gingerbread and delight in homemade hot chocolate.


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