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Old 10-21-2005, 08:36 AM   #1
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Default HolidayTraditions - what do YOU do?

I am curious as to what sort of holiday traditions ya'll have. When I was a kid,
Thanksgiving was all about family and friends and a TON of good food.

For Christmas, we always made cookies every year and set up a nativity ... And we could open one gift on Christmas Eve. In the morning, we could get into our stockings right away, but had to wait until after Dad read the Christmas story from the Bible to open our REAL gifts

I don't have any kids, but DH and I feel like since we got married, we may want to stay home every third year or so and start our own traditions. Because we live in CO and all of our relatives live in Chicago, St. Louis and various parts of Virginia, we have been travelling for the holidays for the past 4 years now! It gets old!

What sort of traditions does your family have, and do you find yourself travelling more than you'd like?

TFS!

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Old 10-21-2005, 08:48 AM   #2
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We also got to open one gift on X-mas Eve. In the morning, we could dig through our stockings but had to wait until everybody else was up to open the gifts.

Now since we are all adults, usually just me, my sister, BIL, and niece are at my parents' for X-mas morning (as we are the only ones who have moved away). We open gifts and have breakfast, then prepare for the big family dinner.

Rest of family exchanges and opens gifts after dinner. My mom usually has a basket of grab-bag type gifts that she passes around; that's lots of fun. It's usually stuff she has made (dishcloths, etc.) or ornaments, that kind of stuff.
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Old 10-21-2005, 08:58 AM   #3
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ORNAMENTS! I forgot about that! Every year, my mom would make ornaments for the nieces and nephews... and my aunts always got ornaments for us, too. They were always taped to the packages... that was so much FUN! Our tree is a hodgepodge of homade and collected ornaments...

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Old 10-21-2005, 09:21 AM   #4
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As a child we always went Downtown (MPLS) to have lunch. Then we had Fondue for dinner and a Birthday cake for Christ. We lit a candle on it and sang "Silent Night". THen we got to open one gift. Christmas morning we woke Mom and Dad up EARLY and of course my Dad had to check to see if Santa came. Every year Santa was just leaving because we would hear his HO HO HO'S!!!

Now that I have my own family, we always put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving while the turkey is cooking (sidenote: my 9th Great Grandfather is Gov. William Bradford from the Mayflower who started Thanksgiving!!).

We always make Christmas cookies sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Christmas eve we drive around and look at the lights in various neighborhoods. My oldest son and I absolutely love Christmas music so we listen to the all the time. Another thing we do is the Angel Tree.

Lynnette
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Old 10-21-2005, 10:25 AM   #5
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We've got the best tradition - we give out awards for the best decorated homes in the area.

Before we go to church on Christmas Eve - we make awards on the computer - then we roll them up - tie them with beautiful ribbon and slide in a candy cane (inside the ribbon). We usually do between 8 - 12 of them (lots of neighborhoods in the area).

After church - we would drive around until the kids saw an amazing house. Then one would sneak up to the front door and hang the award on it - this is where the candy cane comes into play as it's our door hanger. Then the kid runs back to the car and we quietly drive away. We figure the homeowner will find the award on Christmas morning and be surprised (no doorbell ringing).

My kids are now 15, 13, and 10 and they still do want to do this every year.

I originally made up this idea when they were younger so by the time we got home - it would be 10 o'clock or so (past their bedtimes) and they'd go straight to sleep.

Can't wait to do it again this year.

Sue
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Old 10-21-2005, 11:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *AStampinFool*
We've got the best tradition - we give out awards for the best decorated homes in the area.

Before we go to church on Christmas Eve - we make awards on the computer - then we roll them up - tie them with beautiful ribbon and slide in a candy cane (inside the ribbon). We usually do between 8 - 12 of them (lots of neighborhoods in the area).

After church - we would drive around until the kids saw an amazing house. Then one would sneak up to the front door and hang the award on it - this is where the candy cane comes into play as it's our door hanger. Then the kid runs back to the car and we quietly drive away. We figure the homeowner will find the award on Christmas morning and be surprised (no doorbell ringing).

My kids are now 15, 13, and 10 and they still do want to do this every year.

I originally made up this idea when they were younger so by the time we got home - it would be 10 o'clock or so (past their bedtimes) and they'd go straight to sleep.

Can't wait to do it again this year.

Sue
That is a really neat tradition. Sounds like somthing we might have to try!!
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Old 10-21-2005, 11:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *AStampinFool*
We've got the best tradition - we give out awards for the best decorated homes in the area.

Before we go to church on Christmas Eve - we make awards on the computer - then we roll them up - tie them with beautiful ribbon and slide in a candy cane (inside the ribbon). We usually do between 8 - 12 of them (lots of neighborhoods in the area).

After church - we would drive around until the kids saw an amazing house. Then one would sneak up to the front door and hang the award on it - this is where the candy cane comes into play as it's our door hanger. Then the kid runs back to the car and we quietly drive away. We figure the homeowner will find the award on Christmas morning and be surprised (no doorbell ringing).

My kids are now 15, 13, and 10 and they still do want to do this every year.

I originally made up this idea when they were younger so by the time we got home - it would be 10 o'clock or so (past their bedtimes) and they'd go straight to sleep.

Can't wait to do it again this year.

Sue

This sounds like a blast. I think I am CASEing this idea!!!!
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Old 10-21-2005, 12:09 PM   #8
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We get to open our presents on Christmas Eve, and have a big dinner. When I was younger, my mother and I would take the entire day to visit all of our friends in the area. Then we would come home, have our dinner, and work on our presents!

On Christmas morning, we would open our Santa gifts, have breakfast, and then get in the car to visit Nannie, Grandpa, my aunt & uncle and cousins. We'd have lunch there and then drive to see my other grandmother and have dinner with her.

Now that Nannie & Grandpa have passed away, we spend our Christmas day at home. My sister has started doing something at her house. It's not quite the same and I often find myself getting up on Christmas morning, wanting to go to Nannie & Grandpa's.

I've already told my husband that I plan on spending as many Christmas' as I can at my parents house. He understands.
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Old 10-21-2005, 01:03 PM   #9
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We try to spend every other year here in Houston, and go out of town to visit my family on the alternate years. I really like being at home better, but you have to do what you have to do for family. At least it is driving distance.

We always put up the Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving. I LOVE putting it up, and I hope that my DS will too, because DH isn't that into it. He's not a Scrooge - just doesn't care for it that much.

In my DH's family, they always gather at someone's house for Christmas Eve. There are 6 brothers and sisters, but it is usually at DH's house, because it is the largest and most appropriate for entertaining. We have a birthday cake for Jesus (always angel food with 7-minute icing - YUM!). We do a competitive gift exchange among all ages (this is sometimes called a "Chinese Christmas", but I don't think that is an appropriate name, but in case you don't know what a competitive gift exchange is...) with fun gifts like movie rental GCs, food gift baskets, decorative items, etc.

When I was a child, I NEVER wanted to be at anyone else's house for Christmas morning. We were always at my house and since I'm an only child, the whole thing revolved around *me*. LOL! My mom/dad/Santa didn't wrap the gifts - they were in sort of a shiny, catalogue-y display in the living room. It was pretty cool, going in there for the first time and seeing everything. Oh yeah...I also remember that my dad had a movie camera and this really bright light. They'd tell me to hold up what I got so they could film it, and I was literally blinded by the light. Those memories are funny, and when I watch the movies, I remember how BRIGHT that light was. LOL!!!

Penny
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Old 10-21-2005, 02:10 PM   #10
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We always had a light dinner on Christmas eve, and then just listened to carols. We'd get to open one gift that was chosen by mom (she always gave us the boring ones! LOL!!) before we went off to bed.

First person up, no matter what time (as long as it was after 7 ) woke up the rest of the kids ~ there are 5 of us ~ and we'd tromp downstairs and start mom's coffee.......rule was no opening until both parents were present!

I haven't had Christmas at home in almost 10 years, and we can't this year...unfortunately...but the only tradition hubby and I have is that we drink Bailey's coffee and eat Almond Roca for breakfast. No, we don't have kids!
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Old 10-21-2005, 02:48 PM   #11
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Thanksgiving is all about the high school football game, dinner with family, and friends usually come join us for some dessert. I must admit this has been my least favorite holiday since I was a kid. Being with friends and family and the after dinner chatter is the high point of it.

The Christmas tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving.

Every year we add a Christmas book to our collection and each night we read one of the books we have. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and The Little Red Buckets are probably my all-time favorite Christmas books.

My birthday is in December so we always have some friends over to decorate the gingerbread houses I've made. Every kid gets one for their home but then we decorate 1 or 2 extra to take to a school and/or children's home.

We always make cookies to take to friends on Christmas eve.

The Christmas cards we receive are hung all around the room and each night one of our kids picks one and we include that family in our family prayer.

I collect nativities so every room has at least one nativity some rooms have three. I get a new one each year and the last few years I've made one too. Last year I did a glass etched one that turned out very nice. This year I'm looking to add a set that has scenes on the bottoms of the robes. I can't remember who makes them, I've seen a smaller version, but these are 11-12" tall.

We have several gatherings each December. The first weekend is a cookie exchange. The second and third weekend we have 4-5 families over and each family shares a Christmas book, while we enjoy some goodies.

We never travel for Christmas. I didn't mind before kids, but once they came travel was over. I don't mind traveling for Easter and Thanksgiving, but Christmas needs to be at home for me.

Deborah
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Old 10-21-2005, 03:35 PM   #12
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Not too many here.
Thanksgiving is always at the in-laws. This year it's at my SIL's house. Just family and turkey and card games. Liverpool mostly. Except for the food, it's pretty boring.
Sometime after Thanksgiving, we (meaning I) decorate the tree, it's a mixture of my ornaments from my childhood, Blue & Silver ones, Some of DH's and all DD's with white non-moving lights. I love our tree Anyway, we listen to Christmas carols while we're doing that and then we put all the gifts for other people underneath. It looks so naked without gifts under it LOL.
On Christmas Eve we drive around looking at Christmas lights. There are usually some really pretty displays in Peoria. Listening to carols the whole time. Then in the morning we head out to the in-laws for presents. I think this is the last year we'll be going there early in the AM. DD will be going on 3 and I don't think I should make her wait an entire hours drive to open gifts.
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Old 10-21-2005, 04:23 PM   #13
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For starters, we couldn't open any gifts till everyone was awake on Christmas morning -- and heaven help you if you knocked on Mom's and Dad's door before 8 am!

When I was in high school, Mom started the idea of the Christmas buffet. After we opened gifts, we'd help her cook lots of food that we then put on hot plates for the rest of the day. People would just go and help themselves whenever they got hungry, and Mom could relax.

One year, in college, things got too hectic and there just wasn't time to go out together and choose a tree. I suggested piling all of the gifts under the large Nativity scene that we had set up in the living room. Everyone loved it, and it stuck. We have a small artificial tree that we put up now (well, I say small but at a hair under 7 feet tall it is smaller than what we'd been getting), but all the gifts still go around the base of the Nativity. A few years ago, Mom started a new tradition where every time we do something nice or give something to charity in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we write it down on a slip of paper and put it inside one of a group of decorative boxes she found at TJ Maxx. She calls it "gifts for baby Jesus". We were all teenagers and adults when we started doing this, but it would be something great to do with young children.

For Thanksgiving, we have our list of traditional made-from-scratch dishes and then add one new recipe that we want to try. My favorite will always be Mom's homemade cream of asparagus soup, though! She only makes it for Thanksgiving dinner.
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Old 10-21-2005, 05:56 PM   #14
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Every year we watch "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation". I still laugh as hard as the first time I saw it. My family is more the Griswolds than the Baileys from "It's a Wonderful Life"! And you know what....I wouldn't have it any other way!
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Old 10-22-2005, 05:49 PM   #15
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Mu husband and I just spent our first Christmas together last year and had to start our very own traditions, (without a lot of money)!

We decorated VERY early, and together!!

Christmas Eve was spent with his family and with my Papaw's as always!
I worked Christmas Eve Night 11 p -7a. (Peds RN, we rotate every year, this year I work Christmas Day Night!)

Then, on Christmas morning when I got home from work, we put on our matching PJs (if I would have been home in bed like any other normal person, I would have had them on already!!)
We then opened our gifts from each other in front of the tree without the distraction of tv and all that, we took turns and opened them one at a time!

We spent the rest of the day with my family!

One of the traditions that has always been in my family is homemade Christmas ornaments. My mom cross-stitches me an ornament EVERY year (since the year I was born) and she added Gary Joe to the tradition last year and made his!!
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Old 10-22-2005, 06:40 PM   #16
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My husband and kids and I have one tradition that we love. Always on Christmas Eve (which happens to be my birthday), after we have gone to church, we all sleep on the floor and couches by the Christmas tree. We leave all the Christmas lights on. It is fun.

Otherwise, as far as traveling.........It seems that on Thanksgiving and Christmas we spend most of the time traveling all over the place. I actually dread going everywhere on the holidays. It's not a lot of fun. Just wish we could stay home once in awhile, but know what we would be on the sh*@list if we did!

Angie
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Old 10-23-2005, 06:57 AM   #17
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Well, my parents house is now and always has been a zoo at Christmas. My husband is always AMAZED by the number of presents under the tree (he has a small family of three) but there are 7 of us, we are all married and now there are 15 grand kids (2 more on the way). My mom laughs because when we were kids there were actually more gifts under the tree than there are now.

We have a Christmas brunch for those who can come in the morning, and dinner is when my Dad's side comes over. However, that has been dwindling over the years, which is fine because our imediate family is still growing. The fun tree with the mis-matched ornaments is in the basement where we open gifts and the pretty tree is upstairs for people to see.

This year will be only the second time in my parents 54 year marriage that not all of her kids will be there. The first was the first year I was married, my DH had to work so we couldn't get up there until the 27. This year I will be too pregnant to make the 6 hour drive. Last time my DH and I made the best of it and had steak and lobster for dinner. Not sure what we will do this year. I am very sad already not to be going home for Christmas. We'll see, maybe at the last minute they will say that I am ok to go. I would be overjoyed.

The only tradition that my husband I really have is to drink White Russians or coffee and Baily's as we open our gifts (usually a few evenings before we leave, whenever we can manage to fit it in, sadly) by the tree. Of course this is only on the years when he has actually been home for Christmas and not deployed. On those years I am happy just to get a phone call on Christmas morning. I guess there will be alot of broken Christmas traditions for me this year. It's ok though, because there is the meaning behind Christmas which is really important!
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:22 AM   #18
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I love reading about everyone's traditions!! There are a few here that I really like and will talk to dh about...

In my family, Thanksgiving and Christmas were HUGE. For thanksgiving we always went over to my Grandma's house for dinner around 5pm, (sometimes it was at an aunts or uncles house, and I remember having it at our house a few times, too.) Anyway, TONS of people. Probably 40 on a good year. TONS of good food all from scratch... Then after dinner the cousins would all go outside and play (if it wasn't too cold), or stay inside and play board games while the adults talked about boring stuff. lol. Good times.

Christmas was much the same, as far as the big dinner goes. I don't remember really having many Christmas traditions, except we would usually try to go look at lights some time, go caroling around the neighborhood. A few years we baked cookies for all of our neighbors. We usually decorated the house around the 10th or so, and as the years went by it was usually me doing all the decorating (out of 8 kids!) because nobody else could be bothered. lol. We usually got our tree around the 18th or so. On Christmas eve, we usually watched Christmas movies and munched on goodies and did marathon gift wrapping. We layed out all our stockings on the couch (no mantle on the fire place) and the kids put out their gifts to each other under the tree. Me and 2 of my brothers had paper routes for a long time, so we had to get up around 3am to deliver on Christmas morning, and then we would turn on some Christmas music and wait (sometimes not so patiently) for everyone else to start getting up. It was awesome to wake up and see the lights twinkling on the tree with all the gifts, and full stockings... We usually started unwrapping gifts around 8am, and sometimes wouldn't finish until noon! (Had to go one by one, oldest to youngest.) Then we'd have a huge brunch and take showers and get ready for the big Christmas dinner. My mom's family has this really yummy dessert called Charlotte Russe that they only make at Christmastime. I LOVE it and plan to make it this year, too.

After I got married, on Thanksgiving we usually had lunch w/ dh's family and dinner with my family, and on Christmas we spent Christmas Eve with his family and Christmas morning with my family. We've been 2 years in Hong Kong now and haven't really started any of our own traditions. (haven't been able to travel back for the holidays), but I have a few in mind that I would like. Mostly we just watch Christmas movies all day.
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:08 PM   #19
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I LOVE the holidays! I also really enjoy reading your traditions. TFS. If anyone is interested, I have a wonderful book and I think the title is Traditions. This book has suggestions for everything (including the first day of school, Mother's day, etc.) Anyway, here are some of my traditions:

We always put up our nativity on Thanksgiving night. This is after a feast, on best china, with lots of family & friends and wonderful homemade food. When we host Thanksgiving at our home we like to go around the table and have everyone share something they are grateful for.

Some of our Christmas traditions are:
I buy a new Christmas book each year and we read one book or story every night of December.
We usually put up our tree the day or so after Thanksgiving (NEVER before!). We play lots of Christmas CD's. One night we have a Christmas family sleep over where we have treats & stories then sleep on the floor by the tree w/ the lights on.
Early in the month we have a "family night" where we talk about our gift to Jesus (somehting we want to improve on). We write our gift for that year down and put it on our tree.
One of my favorite things is that the Elf brings my DS a new pair of jammies on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve we have a nice dinner, read the real Christmas story from the Bible, and play games. Sometime in the evening there is a knock on the door and my son opens the door to find the jammies all wrapped up. This is a surprise from one of Santa's Elves and is the signal that Santa wants to come so our son (now 6!) must go to bed.
We spend many evenings driving around looking at Christmas lights while singing carols.
Our neighborhood does a Secret Santa where we are assigned another family in the neighborhood and we leave things all month and we get surprises in return.

I guess I better stop. I'm getting so excited for the holidays just thinking of this!
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:25 PM   #20
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I think the biggest tradition in our family is that we celebrate Christmas and open all of our presents on Christmas Eve.

Christmas was always at Grandma and Grandpa's. When I was a kid, I would be staying at their house and around 6pm, I would go out and help Grandpa "warm up the truck". Grandma would come out in about 15 minutes and we'd head to town (they lived in the country) to spend the evening with family (aunts, uncles, cousins) at Great-Grandma's house. We'd stay there until about 11pm, and then everyone would leave and we'd bring Great-Grandma and my Mom back to the country with us. By the time we got back, Santa had already come and gone and all the presents were waiting under the tree. We would open all of our presents and go to bed LATE.

Christmas day was spent relaxing, and generally having a large meal - usually roasted goose.

Even though Grandpa and Great-Grandma have passed away, dh, Mom, Grandma, all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and I still celebrate the same way - on Christmas Eve. There's just something magical about opening your gifts at night.

Another tradition that my Mom started... we always listen to The Statler Brothers Christmas Album when we are trimming the tree.
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadgeRPh
Every year we watch "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation". I still laugh as hard as the first time I saw it. My family is more the Griswolds than the Baileys from "It's a Wonderful Life"! And you know what....I wouldn't have it any other way!
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is definitely one of our traditions in a big way..dh proposed to me when Chevy Chase finally lit up the house..full on proposal in the Theatre..ahhh dh always the romantic..lol we are the Griswolds to.. right down to the cat in the tree..cept..we have learned not to light the tree because our dc likes to climb in there and sleep..

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Old 10-24-2005, 11:57 AM   #22
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I still live at home with mom dad and three brothers. Thanksgiving we drive out to my aunts cabin and all of our family comes in for Thanksgiving dinner, then everyone comes back to our house to watch football and eat leftovers.

Usually the day after our family goes to get our tree. My little brother and I decorate it with christmas music on usually while mom is cooking dinner. Christmas eve we all go to mass, family comes to our house, we open some gifts from one another and eat and read from the Bible.

Christmas morning we get up REAL early and Santa has been there. We all open gifts as a family and then go over to my grandparents for the day!

I have about half of my shopping done, I always start early!

We should post pictures of our last years tree! (not hijacking the post)
I will post mine and the rest can if you'd like!

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Old 10-24-2005, 12:01 PM   #23
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here is our tree last year after Santa came!
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Old 10-24-2005, 01:16 PM   #24
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Well, 5 years ago dh and his brother stopped talking, then soon afterward dh decided my father was a total jerk, so I have no family holidays anymore (and I HATE that). Our new tradition, which I LOVE, is going to Rehoboth Beach for Thanksgiving - just the 2 of us. We usually have dinner on Wednesday with our 2 20-something boys, but last year we actually had dinner on Thanksgiving with my 24 yo's fiance's family, then headed to RB.

We get up at 5 and hit K-Mart and Wal-Mart (our house is right in-between both of them, and they are about a mile away), then come back home to get a little more sleep then have breakfast and head out to the outlets. I get just about all my shopping done that weekend. Even with the stinking crowds, it's a blast!
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Old 10-24-2005, 01:51 PM   #25
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Guess my husband and I don't have any real traditions other than just get through the holidays. I don't have much family and anticipation of Christmas is most of our joy. We usually have a small tree and a Christmas dinner. Last year the weather was so bad with an ice storm and I was in bad health so we had to wait to deliver our presents to friends and families. On Christmas Eve I took pictures of all the wrapped gifts and scrapped "piles of presents".
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