Now before you all get excited about me saying “Holiday” rather than “Christmas” let me explain to you that I’m going to be talking about New Years, thus lumping my Christmas and New Years traditions into Holiday traditions.
Now that that is out of the way allow me to explain to you about how I love this time of the year.
I love this time of the year because we’re busy but we’re usually busy with fun stuff. This Saturday we have Mike and Krissy’s “Naughty or Nice” party, the second year we’ve attended their Christmas party. Sunday we have our Church Christmas party, which involves another gift exchange and a lot of soup-eating. We’ll see how that turns out.
Next week I need to go Christmas shopping for my Secret Santa, which leads me into the whole tradition aspect of my entry.
We recently took an outing with the small group we’ve been a part of through our church. We were talking about what we do for Christmas and someone said that it’s really neat that our family has these Christmas traditions.
I never really thought about them being an actual tradition since they just started a few years ago but I guess over time they’ve become tradition and they’ve become something my family and I look forward to.
What are these traditions? Glad you asked.
Christmas in Seattle
Every winter the family – Lis, Lukas, my parents, brothers, grandparents and I – piles into the motor home for a trip to the Emerald City. Since my Uncle Jeff passed away in April ’05, we’ve made a pit stop at the cemetery to wish him a Merry Christmas, and put a little tree at his graveside. After a few tears we pack ourselves back into the motor home and head to Seattle.
We park near the Space Needle and walk around the Seattle Center before grabbing the monorail and heading toward the center of downtown, the Westlake Center mall. We eat lunch or dinner, check out the lights of the big city and do a little shopping.
We started this tradition a few years ago (Lis and I think this is our fourth year doing it and that we took a year off after Lukas was born) as something to do together as a family to get us into that Christmas fever. I don’t know who came up with the idea (probably Mom) but we thought it’d be fun to go see Seattle all lit up with Christmas lights and to walk around the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers trying to find that last-minute gift.
We try to go the weekend before Christmas. Since Randy is coming up on Sunday, December 23, we’ve decided to pick him up at the airport and start our day from there.
Pizza Pajama Party
We’re in our third year of our Christmas Eve tradition. Mom (again!) decided we needed something to do for Christmas Eve. Our gift giving was being done on Sunday and since we have no other family to go to on Christmas Eve we needed something to keep us in that Christmas mood. In the years that preceded the Pizza Pajama Party (PPP) we had spent the time watching movies and laying around the house. That’s when Mom decided she was no longer going to cook a big meal if we’re going to eat another big meal on Christmas, and we’re since we just hang out all day doing nothing, why not do it in our pajamas? So we order pizza, lay around in our pajamas and watch our favorite Christmas movies – Mom’s favorite, “Elf” and the Johnson Clan’s overall favorite, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” are automatics.
We’re in our fourth year for our Secret Santa gift exchange. After the 2003 “debacle” when we all bought gifts for each other and Mom decided to buy the same gift we got her, a crock pot, for herself three days before Christmas, we decided it’s best (and lighter on the pocket) if we all do a gift exchange.
Then we wanted to get away from the generic gift exchange where we pull names and then buy that person a gift and everyone knows who got whom. So I invented a game! We’d pull the name out of a hat around Thanksgiving and we wouldn’t tell anyone who we got. Then the evening of Christmas we’d get in front of the microphone and guess who we thought pulled our name. If you guessed wrong you sit down and that person comes up to the mic and tries to guess. There is just eight presents to be had but the game takes about an hour, which makes the gift opening all the more enjoyable. In the past I’ve gotten my Grandpa (he’ll never let me forget the Laurel & Hardy DVDs I bought him when I thought he wanted someone else), Lis and my Mom. This year I can’t tell you who I got.
The longest running tradition in our family is our annual New Year’s Eve Casino Night. This started years and years ago when my parents thought of a safe way my friends and I could hang out and have fun without worrying about driving home late at night and it also saved us some money since clubbing cost way too much on New Year’s Eve.
So we decorate my parents house, break out the drinks and snacks and gamble from 8 pm to just a few minutes before midnight. Then we all ring in the New Year!
This year we’re donating all of the money to our friend, who is in need of a heart transplant and has to raise $250,000. Five dollars gets you $250 worth of chips, $10 gets you $700. We play craps, roulette, poker and blackjack and finish the night off by auctioning off prizes.
It’s become a tradition not only with our family but with our friends. They’ve come to expect the Hotel Johnson Casino Night. We usually get 20-30 people and most usually leave having a good time.
That’s it, those are some of the traditions we have during the holiday season. It keeps us busy but it also keeps us excited for the season. That week or two between Christmas Eve and New Years is a blast and I look forward to it every year.