23 November 2010

Family Traditions

Well, the holidays are fast approaching (although I still think it is too early for Christmas music and decorations... that is strictly post-thanksgiving business) and it seems like everyone has at least one tradition that is special to them this time of year. I love thinking of all the fun little things my family does for the holidays, and that got me thinking about all the other family traditions we have throughout the year! I've always been a really big fan of traditions (and not much of a fan of change lol) and I hope that when I'm older and have kids of my own I can share some of the things that made my childhood so special. Here, to the best of my abilities, is a list of all the family traditions we have celebrated over the years. I don't have as many pictures as I'd like, but maybe when I go home for thanksgiving tomorrow I can scan some more.

1. Picking out a fresh Christmas tree and drinking hot apple cider while they cut off the trunk and put it on our car. Every year my Dad and Sister and I go to Watter's garden in Prescott and pick out the tallest, plumpest tree we can find. I love using a fresh tree because it makes the whole house smell like pine for a good month. The night after we get the tree, we all make hot cocoa, listen to christmas music, and decorate the tree with our box full of mismatched ornaments that we've collected throughout the years.

2. Having cozy holiday meals with way more food than is necessary (and pretty much always making the same things year after year). We used to have thanksgiving and christmas dinners just the four of us, but as Jenny and I (and other family members) have gotten older, we've started having various grandparents, aunts, and uncles join us as well. I love that every year we usually make the same dishes... and each person makes the same things haha. My Dad takes care of the turkey, my mom makes her mom's recipe of mashed potatoes (the ones I turned into a delicious Irish Colcannon dish), Jenny makes pecan pies, I make pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce, and towards the end of the day when things are getting frantic someone remembers to put the rolls in the oven, cook the stuffing, and sautee the green beans. We always use our nice white china and real silverware and drink champagne and sparkling apple cider out of "special occasion" flutes. It's just wonderful.
 3. Advent calender stockings throughout the month of December. For as long as I can remember, we have always hung a string of 24 little red stockings on our hearth on the first day of December. My parents would put a candy or two for both me and jenny for each night. It was such a fun and cute way to count down until Christmas.

4. Getting up early on Christmas morning and making my parents breakfast. Another Christmas tradition is that my sister and I always sleep in the same room on christmas eve so that we can wake each other up EARLY the next morning. When we were little kids we would get up around 4 or 5 o clock! Nowadays its more like 7 or 8 haha. after we wake up we go out into the living room to look at the tree and all the presents underneath and then we each take our stocking off of the hearth and look through the contents back in my room. Then we go out into the kitchen and put some coffee on. When we were younger we made honey scones from a children's cookbook we had, but now that we're older we make eggs and other things. Last year I made eggs benedict. yum!

5. Playing in the snow. It doesn't snow all that much in Prescott, but we usually get one or two big storms a year that can leave 6-12 inches of snow. When I was little and this happened, I would put on my blue snowsuit and play for hours. I remember making snow men and snow angels and going sledding with my Dad and then coming inside for hot chocolate :) One of the main things I remember though is snow ice cream! We always made a bowl whenever there was enough snow on the ground. It consisted of a lot of snow, some maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Sooo yummy!
6. Tamales on Christmas Eve. This is a tradition in Mexico, and I don't know how it became a family tradition but I assume it has to do with my Dad growing up in Tucson. Sometimes we get them from a restaurant but a lot of the time we make them together a few days beforehand and then we move our table into the dining room and eat in front of the christmas tree. Delicious!

7. Making Christmas Cookies. I know everyone makes cookies around the holidays, but there are a few recipes that my mom and sister and I always try to make together. It's gotten harder in the past few years since we're both away at school until a week beforehand, but it's still a nice tradition! We make peppermint sugar cookies that are shaped like candy canes, chocolate spritz cookies with a spritz maker that looks about 50 years old and stained glass cookies (sugar cookie circles with melted lifesavers in the middle to look like stained glass windows).

8. A wild goose chase. I'm pretty sure this was my idea- my mom had this booklet of sweet little notes to put into kid's lunch boxes and I was looking through them one day. At the back was a kind of scavenger hunt called a 'wild goose chase'- basically a bunch of little rhymes that served as clues to lead to where the next rhyme was hidden and at the end was a prize. I begged my mom to let us do one for one christmas (I think I asked her about it like every day... how annoying haha) and we've done one ever since! A lot of families let their children open one present each on christmas eve, and this is how my family goes about it :)

9.Collecting Firewood. It's been a couple years since I've been free enough from school and things to do this one, but I still have many fond memories of it and hopefully I can do it again this year! One winter or fall day every year my Dad and I would drive out into the forest around prescott in his ollllld white pickup truck (sometimes we would stop at a gas station and get some pastries and cocoa first) and collect firewood. He took care of most of the big stuff, I mostly just picked up kindling and small, already broken up pieces. And when I got tired of that I'd play in the forest :) It was always so much fun and afterwards we could come home and have fires in the fireplace for the rest of the season.

10. Camping and coloring eggs on Easter. We haven't gone camping since I was 14, but it used to be a regular yearly thing. First we tent camped, and then after a few years we bought an old rv. We always go to the same campsite in Bullpen. The creek is right next to it and there's a big tree that my Dad would tie a rope and a piece of wood to to make a swing. We would all color eggs on a camper table and my parents would hide them after we went to bed so that we could look for them the next morning. So fun! A lot of these traditions have to do with religious holidays but my family isn't really crazy religious or anything... I think holidays are more about family, love, and fun times :)

11. Triple Scoops on our Birthdays. I don't know when this particular tradition started but food has always been an important thing to the Estes family. My Dad had 3 brothers and a sister so there was always a lot of food at their house. As soon as my sister and I were old enough to get excited about ice cream, my parents started taking us out for triple scoops at baskin robbins on our birthdays. It was really special and fun because cmon, who orders a triple scoop ever?! It's so tall and precarious and looks absolutely ridiculous when handed to a small child. It was always something we really looked forward to though :)

12. Traveling. I know this isn't really a tradition, but it's a very important part of my childhood. My family has always devoted time and money to be able to go new and interesting places. We've been to mexico and california many times, new england, the midwest, the northwest, and europe. I think it's so important to get out of the bubble where you live and go experience new cultures and ways of life. I hope to continue traveling for the rest of my life. The picture below is of my dad, my sister, and I in chicago. We drove there all the way from prescott, and that wasn't even the last stop! We went all the way up to Wisconsin to visit my aunt and uncle.

That's all I can remember for now. If any of my family members can remember more (because I'm sure I'm forgetting some but I'm getting too tired to keep at it haha), let me know! Also, what kind of family traditions do you cherish this time (or any time) of the year?

Happy holidays all, and I'll see you tomorrow Prescott!


1 comment:

  1. Oh my god! These pictures are amazing! I don't think I have ever seen the one of the snow men or us outside of the RV on Easter. So sweet :)