My favorite things about the Holiday season are Christmas trees and presents. (Can't you tell that I am oh so Catholic?)
Every year, no matter where we spend the Holidays, my family follows the same rituals regarding the Christmas tree and the presents. I think that's probably one of the few aspects of life where we are actually the most methodical and the one aspect I am most grateful for. It gives me continuity and if perhaps I haven't spent very many Christmases in the same place at least no matter where I am I always feel like I am home.
In our home the Christmas tree gets pulled out the week of Thanksgiving. I say pulled out because we don't believe in buying real trees. We have a lovely fake 15 foot tree. For a long time I thought that the reason why didn't have a real tree was because keeping one in the closet was more practical; however, now I know that killing trees unnecesarily for the sake of decoration is a horrible thing.
Last year my brother bought me a real tree just because I'd never had one. I named it "tree". I had a Christmas party in honor of "tree". Then for the following three months- I didn't get rid of it until March- I watched it die a slow and painful death. Unnecessarily.
On Thanksgiving morning my mom puts all the finishing touches on the tree so that by dinner time everyone is ooooooooohing and aaaaaahing about what a gorgeous tree we have. And all modesty aside, every year we do have a great looking tree and everyone is always singing it praises!
The presents are an entirely different story. I think that I am the one who gets most annoyed about the fact that initially there are no gifts under the tree so the first batch of gifts are usually the ones I buy. Or maybe just the one I buy myself because I tend to procrastinate on getting other people's and I ALWAYS buy myself something. It bothers me to see a tree with no presents. That's far too unorthodox as far as I am concerned!
Our presents from the parents are usually purchased about a week before Christmas during "the trip". No matter where we are, my mom always feels the need to go elsewhere to buy our stuff. Very rarely though are they wrapped before a couple of days before Christmas Eve. My mom doesn't trust me. She knows that as soon as I see a wrapped present under the tree that I will get comfortable on the floor and will start shaking every present until I figure out who is getting what!
That's my inner child having fun...
Then comes Christmas Eve. We open our presents Christmas Eve. Waiting for the actual day of Christmas Day is so much of a cliche that we just do it the night before, after dinner (actually, I don't know why we do it that day). Granted, one could argue that if my mom had her way we would eat dinner at like 11:30pm or at almost 1am like we did Thanksgiving night, luckily this is one of the few special ocassions when dinner is served at a reasonable hour (before 10).
Today I am going to go Christmas shopping. It's weird because I'm not very much in the Holiday spirit these days. It seems to me that the older I get, the less jovial I feel about the whole Holiday thing. I won't stop partaking in any of our Holiday traditions because I may have outgrown them; however, they are not as sweet as they once were. (Not to mention that I feel like shit about having to spend money just because during a time that I should be saving like all of it).
I think I want to start my own traditions... for that I should probably get started on having my own family...