The Holidays Are Coming. What Do They Mean To You?

This thread is dedicated to joy. To the warmth of sharing and celebration with those that you love. Be it Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or New Year’s, let us share our collective memories and traditions and all of the quirky decorations, games, recipes and parties that define them. Tell us about your biggest clan gatherings. Crazy things that happened, wacky antics of long lost relatives.

Anything goes, yes, sorrows too. Share what is strong in your mind from these times. Virtual gift giving is also encouraged too, preferably on that special day, but as you will see, anytime is good for giving.

A thumbnail sketch of what I hope to bring here would include;

[li]Thanksgiving: My triple sausage, red wine and sourdough stuffing recipe. Distant memories of family gatherings. Turkey roasting tips and a few reasons to be thankful.[/li]
[li]Chanukah: Reading at a Seder. Remembrance of times past. Awkward moments among my Jewish friends. Food, coffee and traditions.[/li]
[li]Christmas: Unbelievable parties and gag gifts that made people howl. Favorite presents, gotten and given. Tree ornaments that stick to the top of your mind like chewing gum.[/li]
[li]New Years: Finally the time when many of us make, break and fake all sorts of resolutions. The lunar New Year and Hebraic New Year are just as welcome.[/li]
And finally,

[li]Holiday Birthdays: Any of you whose birthday falls on a holiday, please check in and relate your memories about how your parents made sure things were special or how you were overlooked. Born a month after Christmas, I know the toll taken by Holiday burnout.[/li]If this seems too early, not even Halloween and all that, please indulge me in bringing to all of us any new ideas or traditions that might make times a little happier. After all, this all that I seek.

Jack shit…usually they just mean listening to the family members I dont like arguing with each other at one of the grandparents house.


They mean that a big, fat wad of cash which I have worked my ass off to make is going to get spent and promptly forgot.

Actually, I like the holidays. I am just in a mood right now. I’ll post more later.

One new tradition I’m starting this year–instead of Christmas cards, I’m making CD’s. I’m going to put together a mix CD of what I’ve been listening to this year, make up some cool cover art, and spin a bunch of copies to give out as my “Audio Christmas Card”. As cheap as you can get CD-R’s right now, it probably won’t cost much more than nice cards would.

My favorite thing about the holiday season is that it is the one time of the year when you can do nice things for people without them getting suspicious about what you want in return.

Dr. J

Family. For better or worse, I’m related to these people, and I have to be with them even more around the holidays. I celebrate all the normal Christian ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, a December 31-January 1 New Year) just out of tradition, my own and the ones I inherited from my family. I enjoy the holidays, myself. They mean great food, some of my favorite people (most of my family is good), and beautiful memories. Not to mention gifts.

I love the holidays. They are about food and family. I loved being in the kitchen with my mom, granny, great-g’ma and great great g’ma making things from scratch. I always made the crescent rolls, maw-maw brought apple pies, maw made bannana pudding with nilla wafers, granny brought her yummy turkey stuffing. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, potato salad, that weird carrot/raisin stuff that my aunt always brought… it seemed every flat surface was covered in drinks, food, or desert. (American) football was always on tv. The entire family came. I got to see cousins, aunts, and uncles that I hadn’t seen since last holiday season, as well as the ones that lived nearby. Even my great-aunts came out for the fun. I have a huge family and its great to be surrounded by all that love.

The downside to the holidays was my aunts and uncles always forcing my cousins and I to compete with their my-kid-is-better-than-yours stories.

Of course, those are all childhood memories. Maw and maw-maw have gone on to heaven. My parents have seperated, and my brothers and I don’t get invited to the family get-togethers on my dad’s side anymore. Granny (my mom’s mom) still tries to have us all over for Thanksgiving. I’m going to try and make it, but I will probably have to work. Despite all of this, I still love the holidays because of the great memories. And now that I’m engaged I get to look forward to having my own kids and re-living it all again. (Only this time I get to sit at the ‘grown-up’ table.)

Thank you all for responding. This is the exact sort of posting that I could hope for. Memories are so important!

Family. You know, some people you like, and other people, well, if they walked in front of your car, the pedal you hit wouldn’t be the brake…

Martha Stewart disclaimer: I am NOT her. I have a sense of humor, and do not weave my own fabric to make my own placemats that double as bun warmers for my departing guests.

I start carefully selecting gifts for my loved ones pretty much January 1. So, by Labor Day, I’m pretty well done. I make my own Greeting Cards, put a letter in with the folks who don’t hear from me regularly (no, it’s not the traditional “Johnny’s the captain of the football team, and Bill got a big promotion at work!”, kind of thing, it’s more like “we had Ben punk up so the school he was supposed to go to would offer to write a letter letting him go elsewhere”).
Carefully selected and sometimes hand made gifts abound. Every year, I do a gag gift for my SO’s family that pokes fun at him (last year was snowglobes with a picture of him as a sumo wrestler on skis in mid flight). As a side note, he has friends who own an art gallery in East Lansing, and I’ve often given THEM one of the items too, which they will display with a price tag during the East Lansing Art Festival (one year it was a melmac plate, they had it tagged as being from “got your goat enterprises” and a price of $2500). When it was a plate or bowl, I also managed to get one “delivered” to him post holidays at his favorite restaurant for lunch.

I love finding that one special thing for people. Sometimes it’s humorous, other times it’s just neat. This year, for example, I’ve purchased copies of a book for both of my siblings. The book is by Patrick Dennis, entitled Little Me , hilarious. It was a book our mom was always looking for and never found (she’d read it years before and wanted a copy). I’d looked for it for years without success and never could give her a copy (she died 16 years ago), but now (yea, e-bay), I’ve found several.
It’s also mustard season (I make mustards as gifts as well), so the scents coming from MY kitchen are different than the usual.

Oddly enough, the “day” doesn’t mean that much in itself. In my family there were 3 of us who worked holidays (me at the correction center, my now-ex at the hospital, and my brother in law is a mortician). So we got very used to celebrating it on any day that seemed to work out for the most folks. And these days, I’ve spent Christmas Day itself alone, half the time (son goes to his dads, and SO goes to his relatives in DC - sometimes I go with SO, but if son is only going to be at dads for a day, then I can’t) so, on times when I’m alone, I go out for dinner and a movie (and respect myself in the morning).

Even though it is WAY to early for me to even consider participating in the “Holidays” (I won’t rant about this, you should know from previous posts my feelings about it), I will share a tradition that my dad started when I was a kid.
On Christmas Eve, Dad would take my brother and I out in the AM to “Warren Sporting Goods” where a friend of his worked. They would have cider and doughnuts there for the customers. We would hand out for a few hours and my dad’s friend would always buy my brother and I a pop from the vending machine. Afterwards, we would go to the “Coney Island” restaurant for coney dogs. We would do this every Christmas Eve without fail. Today, “Warren Sporting Goods” is now moved, my dad’s friend is retired and he has lost touch with him… BUT my dad, brother, and now myself and my kids STILL go to “Coney Island” on Christmas Eve for coney dogs. I love it, and look forward to it every year. It is probably the one single event that really gets me in the mood for the holidays.


You left out Halloween…i have a huge party every year because my birthday is the day before, and my wife’s birthday is one week before. So that’s one of the best holidays of the year, with friends, family, and the best costumes on the planet. Hollywood can’t touch us.

Thanksgiving–Food, food, and FOOD! TONS of family, and everyone else we know usually stops by. After dinner we sit around and have coffee, laugh it up, reminisce about the good ole’ days, and usually hang out until 2/3am playing games.

Christmas–The same as Thanksgiving, only this we give presents as well! And, I’m not ashamed of it, we’re a family of gamblers…every year my father hides a few hundred dollars in small bills around the house. We go looking for them, and then play poker or various other games until the wee hours. Maybe not the usual christmas tradition, but the whole family and everyone else get’s in on it.

We’re italian and as such, we eat too much, drink to much, we’re definitely too loud. We gamble, we smoke, we have obnoxious parties in the middle of the night that can last for more than one day. But, I have one of those rare families that doesn’t seem to have any unhappy relationships. We all get along.

And we’re friendly! If you happen to be in the area, come on by find a few bucks in the couch and pull up a chair, we’ll deal you in.

Happy holidays!


Halloween means dressing up in a way that is completely out of character for me, going out, and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting citizens of whichever metropolis I’m infesting at the time.

Thanksgiving usually means home & family - My usual kitchen jobs are walnut grinding, cranberry chopping, and table setting. Older brother always does the butternut squash (my parents grow all their own veggies), younger bro does the potatoes. Mom makes pretty much everything else, Dad carves. Leading up to dinner, my parents and younger brother fight and snipe at each other, and my older brother and I quietly start drinking in the corner and commenting on who is ahead in the battles this year. The fighting usually stops when the Grandparents show up. When Grandma drinks wine, her nose turns red and we make fun of her while she glares at us. The best is the day AFTER Thanksgiving - Dad makes amazing turkey soup, and Mom and I continue our decade-long game of Rummy. It’s usually a great visit - long enough to relax, not long enough for us to get sick of each other. Mom always makes me a care package to take back home with me.

Last year I couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving, spent the day walking through the empty city (D.C.)looking for signs of life. This year I won’t go home either - my roomie and I are going to make dinner for all the other misfits in town - Chicago Dopers take note!

Christmas: My extended family has a huge bash on Christmas Eve. Then the next day we get up early and go to the 8:00 a.m. Mass, which I endure for the sake of my mom’s need to believe that I’m still kinda Catholic. I sing the Christmas carols, listen to the old stories, wonder if I might not be a little Catholic underneath. If it’s Father Kinsella, the little old visiting Jesuit, I’m in danger, if it’s Pastor CheeseBall then I’m okay. We always open our “stockings” before church. After church it’s breakfast, then opening presents. I always want people to open what I got them first, to see their reactions. We usually go to my grandparents’ for dinner, which is notable because my Grandmother has a tiny kitchen with a huge table and insists on getting up to serve people and we’re always yelling at her to sit down and eat. In the evening we go to my Dad’s side of the family for coffee & desert.

New Year’s = Anticlimax. My New Years’ always end up being very low key. Out to dinner with a friend or friends. Watching the ball drop & making spiked egg-nog. Sometimes going to a movie. I’ve never had the midnight kiss or the big date or the fancy When Harry Met Sally party to go to.

Zenster, when is your birthday? Mine is also about one month after Christmas (1/28).

This will be my first Christmas without my father. He died last year, Dec. 26th. Me, miniM2u and MrM2U will be visiting my mom in Arizona - I’m not really sure how we’ll, or I’ll, get through it.

I’m sorry, Zenster, if I’m getting anyone down, but you asked… :frowning: It’s going to be awful and I’m not looking forward to it. I don’t even WANT to go to AZ even though I know I HAVE to.

On an unrelated note, wring, could I get one of your mustard recipes??? I LOVE the idea.

I’m a New Year’s Baby. My parents did pretty good making sure I felt like I had a real birthday. One of the big things was being able to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve and party with my parents (they usually had a small party - 10 or 15 good friends and relatives). They’d give me a present or two right after midnight so I could celebrate my birthday right then. One of the most memorable ones was my 8th birthday. My Dad built a dollhouse for me, and they gave it to me at midnight. I was thrilled!

'course, later in life, people do tend to group it all together with Christmas, and I take it very maturely and adult-like. NOT. I pout and scream if I don’t get a REAL birthday. Lately I’ve taken to giving my SO expensive and extravagent gifts on his birthday (which falls in May, a nice, slow, holiday-less time of the year) in the hopes that he will remember this and reciprocate. So far it hasn’t worked.

Uh, isn’t coney another word for RABBIT? You eat rabbit dogs???

SkySlash: I know how you feel. That is why I frequently spend the holidays alone rather than deal with a bunch of bent axle, game playing jerks.

lurkernomore: see the above. And by the way, these days you’re lucky if all you’re eating is rabbit in your hot dog.

wring: You’re so perfect that I’m sure people are already lining up to whack you one. I love the way you slip in the plate where your hubby is dining. How original!

Demo: Goodness knows that I understand how you feel. When I think of all the times I have busted my hump to pick out the perfect gift only to get a Hickory Farms sausage basket in return, it just boils my potatoes. Fortunately for me, giving is more fun than receiving.

Dragwyr: Way cool story about the hotdogs. This is exactly the sort of stories I hope that all will share here.

Beelzebubba: Thanks for importing Halloween. I was really tempted to in my OP but refrained from doing so out of political correctness. If you know me, you’ll know what an admission of guilt that is. That said Halloween is now open season as well. (Love your screen name!)

Magdelene, oh Magdelene, what am I going to do with you? Yes, my dear, we are birthday buddies. Born on the exact same day, 8:30 in the morning for me, how about you? Thanks for the wonderful post. (Pastor Cheese Ball?!?)

Missy2U: This is precisely why I started this thread. Do not feel in the least bad about sharing your sorrow. Maybe this year, you can all celebrate your father’s life in little ways. Each of you bring some small thing that he gave you or used to belong to him and tell the story about it. By the end, your Dad will be sitting there at the table with you.

Athena: I hope that this year you gave your SO a sound thrashing. The nerve of that scoundrel! My mother’s father celebrated his Birthday on New Years too. I’ll post a story or two about that.

Nuthin’, this year. I’ve never been much of a holiday person, though.

Halloween—None of my friends are having parties, so I’ll just buy candy I won’t be tempted to eat (Raisinettes) for the neighborhood kids.

Thanksgiving—My Mom and I used to get together, but this year I’ll have no vacation time left, and she can’t come up to see me because she’s not well enough right now.

Xmas—I hope the town doesn’t broadcast that awful crappy Xmas Muzak over loudpeakers again this year, or I will have to buy me a shotgun!

New Year’s—Dunno. Maybe something will come up in the next month or two . . .

Halloween: “Honey, turn off the lights and be really quiet! Maybe they’ll go away!” Actually, the last couple of years we have handed out candy. I just find it hard to get excited about children I don’t even know appearing in the nth iteration of four or five basic costumes.

Thanksgiving: Usually means “My birthday is nearby.” I was born on Thanksgiving Day 1969; this year it will be four days later. Also, as a vegetarian, it means fifty people asking me, “Well, what do you eat if you don’t eat turkey?” :rolleyes:

Christmas: “Please, please, God In Which I Don’t Believe, don’t make me be anywhere near any sort of shopping mall/outlet/grocery store/place of public assembly on Xmas Eve!” I really don’t care much for Christmas, I do not do the big family gathering thing, and I’ll be living 400 miles away from family this year anyway. Peta T. and I probably will go to see the White House tree, and we were thinking of going down to Williamsburg. We don’t do a lot of gift-giving, with each other or others.

New Years: I can take it or leave it. I’m getting too damned old to celebrate strenuously, but I’ll never turn down a party invitation, either. This year, it means, “I’m leaving for Maui in 4 days!”

I gotta say it… we jews have it all over the rest of you. Especially those of us who’ve married into gentile families. Us Canadian jews living in the US are one day better still.

Get this…

Rosh Hashana - plenty of good food with my family. Small but loud affair. Every person in the room is a philosopher and comic all at once. And of course everybody in the room can run Israeli politics better then the Israeli gov’t and tells you so.

Yom Kippur - Well, there’s the fast but it’s encompassed by two big meals and plenty more family and friends and politics and philosophy.

Canadian Thanksgiving - pass the turkey please!

American Thanksgiving - pass the ham please!

Chanukah - chocolate and more chocolate and latkes and more latkes. Eight days of presents for the kids.

Christmas - Major pigout with in-laws plus liberal amounts of alcohol. Lots of prezzies for all. Walks in the snow. Getting loaded and going carrolling at midnight over to in-laws friends two blocks over who hussle us inside for more drinks and to shut us up and keep their neighbours from calling the cops.

New Years - the one quiet evening that my wife and I enjoy spending home alone with the kids. We used to go out but it all seems too much of an effort and anti-climactic now a days. Perhaps a small dinner with close friends at the start but we greet midnight with just the two of us and that damn silly ball at Times Square.

…and then it all starts all over again with Passover and Easter… Oy, don’t get me started!

Zenster, that is tooooooooo freaky. I don’t know what time I was born. My birthday never gets overlooked - 1/2 my family was born in January or February, so we have a big midwinter bash to celebrate everyone. Of course, in recent years, I’m never home for that, but they always call me from the party and talk into the phone all at once. What sucks is that every couple years I have to share my b-day with the Superbowl.