These holiday stories represent a sampling from a paperback and eBook created by Ariele Huff with and for her writing students. Ariele is a writing teacher and Northwest Prime Time writing columnist.
A Family Tradition
In my family, even if the wrappings were falling off, we wouldn’t dream of opening a present before the appropriate date and time. I had my kids convinced it was a universal law, so this is how we operated all through their growing up years. On Christmas morning, we took it several steps further. Everyone was present and had a cup of eggnog before the gifts were parceled out, one at a time. Each was opened for all to see and express appropriate admiration and appreciation. If the gift was wearable, the receiver might even go try it on while the rest waited. We had nothing but time.
Imagine her shock and disappointment when daughter Kerry discovered that some families do holidays differently. She was spending time with her new inlaws on Christmas Day when, to her amazement, all hell broke loose. At a prescribed time—they probably tooted a whistle—everyone dove under the tree and grabbed and ripped open their gifts. It was all over in about two minutes...all that planning, shopping, wrapping. Oh my.
The mess was, of course, horrendous—nobody knew who had gotten what or from whom. My daughter told me later that this family was like a bunch of animals!
And what about the homemade eggnog? Ours was rich and fabulous and took several bowls of all sizes, much whipping, and was lots of work and prep time. It had to be done or we’d starve during the opening of the presents. Depending on the number and ages of the children “helping,” we usually pretty much trashed the kitchen with this project.
Now that I think about it, one family’s mess is another family’s tradition. So what do we do? We just enjoy.
--Lois (Mike) Caslin
One of my most memorable Christmases was the first one Larry and I spent together. He was raised in the Jewish faith, and although he was 29, 1982 was his first Christmas. It was also my first taste of Hanukkah.
I was raised in a home where Christmas was a big celebration. Tinsel, angels, holly wreaths and the smell of baking cookies filled our house from late November to early January. I had heard things about Jewish traditions and customs, but somehow I’d always assumed that everyone celebrates Christmas!
Larry was not as naïve as I, but he did find a large difference between being on the outskirts of a holiday and being in the middle of all the festivities. What an exciting time it was for both of us and especially for my twelve-year-old daughter, Kristi. She had heard only a little about Hanukkah at school from friends and from television, so she had a lot of questions. Many of these were even hard for Larry to answer. Getting deeper into the meanings of Hanukkah led naturally to discoveries about the significance of Christmas traditions, as well.