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What are your holiday traditions and reminiscences?


SansFin
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Please note: I mean this thread to be sharing of traditions and reminiscences. I hope that those who do not celebrate the coming holidays will have decency to refrain from commenting.

 

 

Our holiday season begins with: St. Nicholas Day on: December 19th. Good boys and girls find coins, candy, and toys in their shoes when they wake up. Girls such as I received money and small practical things such as hair clips or a watch. Later they go to meet St. Nicholas who is dressed as a Bishop. He tells them stories about sharing with others and caring for the needy. He often gives them a present and collects things to be given to those less fortunate.

 

My greatest remembrance is of when St. Nicholas gave to me a ham which was so large I could only barely carry it. I was so happy that I had important thing to share with my family and I was so very proud when father many times said at supper that night that my ham was delicious.

 

My husband and I continue this tradition with coins, small gifts, keys or candy. It is surprising how large an article of silk can be compressed to fit into shoe.

 

We do little on: Christmas Day, December 25. It was not one of my holidays and it was never a grand celebration day for him. We have at times had a tree. Other years we have had only our: 'Charlie Brown' Christmas tree and knit tree which is wall-hanging. I do not know what we will do this year.

 

New Year's Day is when: Father Frost visits. This is the day for large gifts and fun gifts. Snow Maiden is his granddaughter and helps him. 

 

One girl in each class was selected to be Snow Maiden and hand out presents to those in younger class. I had honor to be Snow Maiden one year! My dress for this had been in our family for many years. It came from my cousin who had been Snow Maiden previous year and it went to other cousin the next year when she was Snow Maiden. It was rich blue and very heavy with embroidery as a new thing was added each year. My mother embroidered a spider web on it. It had many other webs but the one which my mother did was the very best one! I felt very beautiful in it. It will for all time be that my very best present ever was the feeling of joy I felt when handing out presents to those children.

 

Our Christmas Day is January 7. 

 

We have Holy Supper on Christmas Eve. It is twelve dishes with no meat or milk or butter. It is meal of reverence. There is straw on floor and small sheaf of wheat tied with ribbon on the table. I am happy to say that my husband has been able to find wheat each year for this despite little wheat being grown near here. 

 

It is on Christmas Eve that an angel visits and leaves the most personal gift of the season. I have never lost the sense of wonder and awe from the time when I first realized that the angels embroider in the same way that my mother did. It was so very special that angels imitated her!

 

It was a day to sing carols and visit friends. It was on either: St. Nicholas Day or: Christmas Day that we would go to grandfather's farm for sleigh ride over the hills. 

 

I am sorry to say that this singing and visiting is missing from our celebrations here now. My husband and I will at time take a long drive or simply snuggle in with good movies.

 

I have shared this link many times but I present it here because I feel that it captures the spirit of the season and its innocence touches me deeply:

 

The first thirty seconds are raspy audio which are annoying but can be endured.


I should note that Snow Maiden has a long braid and wears blue.

 

 

What are your family traditions and best memories of this season?
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The Feast of the Seven Fishes served on Christmas Eve is an Italian-American tradition with origins in the southern regions of Italy, and for years now my third generation Italian-American wife who prides herself on her culinary skills(and rightly so I might add) has served this dish on our dining room table the night Santa Claus is making his yearly rounds. We always invite a few friends over to share this meal with us. That'sa lot'a food, ya know.

 

Every other Christmas Eve she'll alternate from making separate plates of seafood and instead throw them all together in a big pot and make MY favorite...Cioppino.

 

(...mmmmmmmm...molto bene...MOLTO bene!)

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I love reading everything you post, SansFin, but you really outdid yourself with this one. It's wonderful to read about the how the holidays were celebrated outside North America.

 

This time of year is really bittersweet for me. Not to be too maudlin but my parents and siblings are gone now so I just have a niece who has no children however growing up my family was close and we always spent Christmas together. Usually at my parents house but sometimes at my sister's and after she & my dad passed, my mom & I would go to visit my brother. Christmas Eve we would always have a nice meal. Ham, potato salad & baked beans or lasagna with salad & bread. My mom would make the best homemade fudge. Then we'd spend the evening exchanging gifts and we would play games or cards. That was so much fun and I really, really miss those times. Of course, I still get together with my niece and her dad's family (weird I know, but even after he & my sister divorced they were on good terms.) I also go to my best friend's house for Christmas morning breakfast with her family. Now that I'm in a relationship with someone, we go to his son's house too but it's usually a few days after Christmas.

 

When I was a kid, we'd see my mom's family on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Day we'd visit my dad's oldest sister and her family. I miss that a lot since I never see my cousins. Most of my aunts & uncles are gone now too. My mother's brothers are still alive but I wasn't too close to them like I was with her sisters. It's been a couple of years since I've seen them.

 

My brother & I loved Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and I still make time to watch that even though I'm usually bawling my eyes out before it's over.

 

Hope I didn't ago the spirit of the thread. I'm happy to have some great and not so great memories of Christmases past. We took my boyfriend's grand kids to look at the many Christmas trees in the downtown park that are decorated by hundreds of businesses in our town. It was a lot of fun for me.

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I thank you for sharing your wonderful memories!

 

It is indeed bittersweet to remember holidays with those who are no longer with us but you are making new memories with your niece and your boyfriend's grandchildren. I hope that you have your mother's recipe for fudge and will try making it. Food is excellent for creating and recalling memories.

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Usually the first or second weekend in December, my family would go out to the Christmas tree farms near our house (literally a 5-10 min drive, depending on which farm we decided to go to).  We would wander around the farm with a saw until we found the tree we wanted--Noble fir are the best ones with the best branches, but often times we'd end up with the slightly lesser expensive Grand Fir which wasn't as good as the Noble, but was better than the Douglas.  After we found our tree, my dad would saw it down and we'd carry it to our truck and drive home.  Typically, since it was Oregon after all, the tree would be wet, so my dad would put it in the stand and into the garage so it could dry out.

 

A couple days later, after the tree had dried and living room furniture was re-arranged, my dad would carry the tree into the living room.  His job was to string the lights on the tree, then my mom, sister and I would put all the garland, beads, ornaments or whatever we decided to put on the tree that year.  We would drink egg nogs and watch Christmas movies while we decorated the tree.

 

Then my mom would decorate the inside of our house with Christmas decor.  My dad would put lights on the outside.  Throughout the rest of the month, we watched Christmas movies and did our shopping and what not.  

 

On Christmas Eve, we usually ate something like homemade pizza or lasagna or something like that for dinner.  My sister and I were allowed to open one gift each.  Typically my parents would kind of "hint" around at what gift we should open--usually it was a toy or something that we could play with for the remainder of the evening.  I remember one year we got a Super Nintendo.  That was a pretty sweet gift.  Nowadays, seeing that my sister and I are 26 and 31, respectively, the "open one gift on Christmas Eve to tide the kids over" tradition is gone. 

 

In the last few years, since I've gotten married, my Christmas Eve has been replaced with having Christmas Eve at my husband's brother's house with his family members, because his family typically does all their Christmas festivities on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.

 

On Christmas Day, when I was younger, we'd wake up and my sister and I were allowed to go check out our stockings from "Santa." However, we were not allowed to just start tearing into gifts like kids do in movies.  We had to wait for everyone to get ready and for breakfast to be finished.  When we were ready to open gifts, one present at a time was distributed to the recipient and we took turns opening them, so everyone could see what everyone received.  Typically we listened to/watched TNT's marathon of A Christmas Story while we opened gifts.

 

For dinner, my dad always makes ham, scalloped potatoes, broccoli, rolls and my grandma's fruit salad (which is essentially ambrosia with maraschino cherries).  

 

Prior to the advent of DVDs, we had to check out the TV Guide to see when all the annual holiday fare was on (Charlie Brown, Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph, etc.) and plan accordingly to watch on TV.  Now, I own all the cartoons I want to watch, so we have more flexibility in that regard. 

 

Throughout the season, we also used to go look at Christmas lights, but in later years, less people participated, so we haven't gone out and looked at lights for a long time.  My husband and I have started attending the Oregon Zoo's Zoolights festivities each year.  During Zoolights, you walk around the zoo (and ride the train!) and see all the animal themed light displays.  The only challenge with Zoolights is trying to go when it's not raining outside. 

 

This year is my first Christmas in my new home, so I'm getting a real Christmas tree (only had fake ones prior) and am going to able to decorate one for my home.  I'm also planning on decorating my house, both inside and out. 

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We don't have too many Christmas observances that go back very far in our each own history.  My wife's Latino-American Catholic background means she grew up with far different activities on the day than my white, American suburban dweller background did. 

 

And since my family experience is "extended"( you know, having a step father and step siblings and all his side of  the family and all).

 

Not really having TOO much of any church, religious denomination background( yet not for lack of trying on MOM'S part) we tnded to celebrate Christmas in the traditional secular/pagan tradition MOST Americans had(and STILL do).

 

Yeah, of course we were all familiar with the reason for it all.  But....You're asking for rememberances.......

 

One in particular;

 

One night in a winter(must have been back in 1956, since Mom said I was FIVE at the time...) My Grandmother( my mom's mom) took me and my brother to CARTER'S HAMBURGER place, a diner sort of establishment, for a "treat", as eating there was considered so by kids in my neighborhood.  When we were done eating, she was going to walk us home, but we bugged her to take us in a different direction in oerder to see some house on a nearby street that was decorated real "fancy" (and as putting up a LOT of lights on the house wasn't that commonplace back then).

 

To go past that house meant we had to go down an alley that ran paralell  to Champaign Street.  Well, just take my word....

 

While going down the alley, my grandmother noticed a huge pine tree laying in the alley and thought somebody for some reason threw it out!  She noticed it was behind some building or other, and motioned for my brother, older and MUCH bigger than me, to pick up one end, she picked up the other, and I held up the middle.  We walked tha half mile or so to my house and showed Mom our find. 

 

That tree was so huge, my mom( not yet remarried) only needed the top six feet of it for inside the house.  She made wreaths and miles of garland out of the remaining tree.  Our house smelled of Christmas until the following August!

 

Two days later,my mom was at a service at St. Michael's Episcopalian church (on Champaign Street!) in which Rev. Slater mentioned, "You all might notice the big space on the side of the altar looks kind of barren.  Well, it seems the church volunteers cleared a spot on which they were going to e r e c t the annual Christmas tree we put on the altar each year.  They left the tree, a huge 12 foot Douglas fir, in the ally behind the church  while they prepared the spot. When they went out the rear door to bring the tree in they discovered it was STOLEN!"

 

Mom quickly put two and two together.  Grandma had told her we found the tree in an alley behind some building.  Turns out that building was the church, and she had cut up the CHURCH'S TREE!  She thought of the absurdity of it all, and fought hard to hold back her laughter.  Rev. Slater went on pouring his abashment on thick.  First, he called for Christian charity and prayer for the souls of "those hooligans" which made my mom's attempts to stifle laughter harder due to getting a mental image of me, my brother and her mother in striped sweaters, black caps and masks over our eyes just like cartoon "hooligans" must look.  When he then referred to the TREE CROOKS as "desperados", she had to bury her face in her hands to muffle the sound, as her shoulders shook violently. She had a quick vision of the three of us, bandanas hiding our faces, riding off into the sunset on horseback, tree in tow!   The little old lady seated next to her patted her tenderly on the soulder and offered, "There, there, dear.  It was just a TREE.  No need to be so upset."  The lady thought Ma was CRYING about the tree getting stolen!  Which of course, didn't do anything to help keep her from laughing HARDER!

 

Of course, years later, my Mom ran into Rev. Slater and told him the whole story.  She also offered to make reparations, although many years after the fact.  He told her the LAUGH he got from the story was so good, it was considered paid in full!

 

Sepiatone

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OMG Sepiatone. That Christmas tree story is hilarious. Glad your minister got a good laugh out of it.

 

When I was a kid my dad would take us kiddies to the woods to cut down a tree. It didn't occur to me until adulthood that we were probably trespassing on someone's property and stealing trees. I mean we did that for YEARS.

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I thank you very much for sharing!

 

I trust that was reminiscence of one specific holiday and was not meant to illustrate that your family had tradition of stealing Christmas Trees.

Ha!  :D

THOUGHT someone might bring that up.  Right after I posted, I thought, "Someone's gonna think this is a yearly tradition!"  But Ma made sure SHE got to the nearest lot before my GRANDMA tried to get involved! 

 

HELENBABY:

 

Rev. Slater had a lively sense of humor.  And it would often show up in many of his sermons.  I went to high school with his son, we were in the same graduation class.  Nice kid, too.  But didn't follow in Dad's footsteps.

 

Some of my other Christmas rememberances involve trees.....

 

One Christmas season, I recall(I was six or seven) seeing our pet dog sniffing around the trunk of our Christmas tree.  Knowing what dogs DO concerning trees, I yelled at him to GET AWAY, which startled him so much he jumped back, hit the tree trunk which pushed it over a bit, but being close to the living room wall, bounced of the wall and fell over!

 

On TOP of ME!!

 

There I was....trapped .  As thousands of tiny little pine needles poked into my flesh.  After my mom, running into the room to see what all the noise was, and WHY I was calling for HELP!, finally pulled the tree from off of me AFTER spending five or so minutes laughing while holding her sides.

 

Sepiatone

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My dog is on up in age (he'll be 17 in March) and has his "accidents" in the house more often these days, but he has always been a house dog and was trained. That is until he would get around house plants & Christmas trees. I never was very good with house plants so I don't have them and I never put up Christmas decorations so it was never a problem at my house. But he does go with me to my niece's house & my best friend's house and has been known in the past to do his thing unless I watch him like a hawk.

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I decided to bump this thread and the other one("Christmas ecoration") because I'm kinda sick of the narrow minded tenors of all the political threads.

 

NObody changing anybody's minds, or "recruiting" anyone into their particulas and peculiar mind sets.

So...

 

TRADITIONS?

 

Well, I guess we DO have one, if you can really call it that( or maybe just a "habit"!)

 

Every year, when putting up the tree and decorating it, the whole project begins with me putting five various Christmas music CDs on the carousel CD player and hitting "shuffle mode".  Since we have over 30 different Christmas music CDs, it's always different from year to year.

 

There's also an old coin bank that's a figurine of Santa snoozing in an easy chair that my Mom got from a local bank chain around the time I was born, that's been in the family since that glorious occasion( heh!), that my sister and I pass back and forth each year,  This year is MY turn to have it!  We both grew up with this coin bank being prominently displayed each Yule season, so it does stir warm season feelings in both of us.

 

Sepiatone

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We're opting out of the tree this year for first time in decades.  Decided it was too much work and may get a smaller, less complicated one to put up next year.  Gave up on live ones many years ago. Ironically, many of the ornaments today weigh too much to hang on "real" trees.

 

We put out all the other stuff though and it always saddens me somewhat when I open a box and note the name of the store which is no longer in business.  Speaking of about 10 years ago or so and small, local businesses.

We have practically every Hallmark train ornament sold and found a nice 3-4 foot white tree to hang them on.  Not that small many white ones around, but white is ideal for displaying these ornaments.  For the most part, they are heavy and many are black or dark (as the real engines & cars were).

Oldest (I think) decoration we have is a big knitted stocking with my name embroidered on it.  My mother had it made when I was a kid.

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HA!

 

There's a comic strip in my local paper called "Crankshaft".  The main character is an old "crank" named Ed Crankshaft.( get it?)

 

Yesterday showed him getting the artificial tree down from the attic, assembling it and then hauling it out the front door.  When somebody asks, "Where's he going with the tree?"  They're told, "Aw, he just likes to tie it to the top of the car and drive around a bit to get into the Cristmas spirit".  :D

 

 

Sepiatone

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We're opting out of the tree this year for first time in decades.  Decided it was too much work and may get a smaller, less complicated one to put up next year. 

 

 

I am sorry to hear that you will not have a tree of any kind. We never have less than: "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" which we need only take out of the box and place on shelf. It has one bulb only but I have put also a tiny spider web on it. This may not seem as if it is much but it is sufficient when having full-sized tree would be constant reminder of trouble it was when we can not truly afford time for it.

 

We do at all times have spider web on any tree which we have. That is old tradition:

 

"There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. "Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!" The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything."

 

GipDPIQ.jpg?2

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I am sorry to hear that you will not have a tree of any kind. We never have less than: "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" which we need only take out of the box and place on shelf. It has one bulb only but I have put also a tiny spider web on it. This may not seem as if it is much but it is sufficient when having full-sized tree would be constant reminder of trouble it was when we can not truly afford time for it.

 

We do at all times have spider web on any tree which we have. That is old tradition:

 

"There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. "Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!" The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything."

 

GipDPIQ.jpg?2

Actually we do have three small trees - 1 foot to 4 feet.  Only the Hallmark Train tree actually requires decorating.  We're just not going for the standard big 8 footer with huge number of ornaments.

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One Christmas season, I recall(I was six or seven) seeing our pet dog sniffing around the trunk of our Christmas tree.  Knowing what dogs DO concerning trees, I yelled at him to GET AWAY, which startled him so much he jumped back, hit the tree trunk which pushed it over a bit, but being close to the living room wall, bounced of the wall and fell over!

 

On TOP of ME!!

 

 

t010yCu.jpg

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Well, Sans---although the tree in my story was much BIGGER than the one in your photo, you get the idea.

 

Replace the cat's face with mine, and you've recreated HISTORY!

 

Sadly, this year(as the last four), the glorious though artificial tree I paid a small fortune for back about 20 years ago, will still not be put to use.  Due to the haste in which I had to move, the house we now rent has no room for it in the "living room" (no family room, as the house was constructed in 1948, and "family rooms " as being seperate from the "living room" weren't very, if at all, commonplace)  The old one I use was my sister-in-law's old one, and I keep thinking about replacing it wit at least a taller one since I have to stand this one on the NATIVITY figures box to give it respectable height.  The other tree I mentioned stands over seven feet high, and covers five feet or so in width at it's bottom.  I keep offering it to various family members, but no takers.

 

Sepiatone

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I usually put my tree up on December 7th and leave it up till Epiphany (January 6th).  I still send out Christmas cards--it's a dying tradition nowadays, but I try to encourage my far-away friends and relatives to participate in doing the same.  To spice things up, I hold an annual "Christmas Card Sweepstakes Extravaganza" in which I mail homemade cookies to the first person to send me a card after Thanksgiving.  This year, it took me 2 weeks to receive my first card!  That's the longest it's ever taken, and I've been doing this for the past 15 years.  As I said, it's a dying tradition, but I like jotting down a few words in the cards I send out (I don't just sign them and forget about it).  I like the variety of stamps the post office has, and I like giving business to the Postal Service.  I heard a story a few years ago on the news that said the U.S. Postal Service hires more military veterans than any other federal agency, and 30 per cent of those hired are disabled.  For me, that's a great way to support our vets.

 

On Christmas Eve, I sing with my church choir, then I head over to a friend's house for cocktails and to catch up on things we've been up to over the past year and reminiscing about people we knew that have died before us.  This year will mark the 30th time we've done this!  You would think it strange that living in a small town we'd bump into one another at various points of the year, but believe it or not, Christmas Eve is usually it!

 

Another tradition I celebrate is a trip to the cemeteries with my sisters.  We do this every year (since 1991) in May and December.  We decorate graves of family members, share a few cocktails and cigarettes (even though one of my sisters doesn't smoke), and take a lunch break at the local Dairy Queen!  It's quite a hoot, although, other family members don't like to go with us, in part, because we get a little rowdy by the time we get to our last stop!  Trust me, it's not like it used to be.  As we have aged, by the time we get to our last stop, we're too tired to carry on!

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Yeah, Midwestan....We too, follow a family "tradition" based very loosely on superstition that it's "bad luck" to take down the Christmas tree before New Year's Day.

 

We also, based on Polish "tradition", place a small amount of money just outside the front door before the new year is rung in, and bring it back inside shortly AFTER.  My understanding is that the money is to be THROWN out the door at the chiming of the New Year bells.  We always did the former.

 

Sans may have more clarity on this.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I usually put my tree up on December 7th and leave it up till Epiphany (January 6th).  I still send out Christmas cards--it's a dying tradition nowadays, but I try to encourage my far-away friends and relatives to participate in doing the same.  To spice things up, I hold an annual "Christmas Card Sweepstakes Extravaganza" in which I mail homemade cookies to the first person to send me a card after Thanksgiving.  This year, it took me 2 weeks to receive my first card!  That's the longest it's ever taken, and I've been doing this for the past 15 years.  As I said, it's a dying tradition, but I like jotting down a few words in the cards I send out (I don't just sign them and forget about it).  I like the variety of stamps the post office has, and I like giving business to the Postal Service.  I heard a story a few years ago on the news that said the U.S. Postal Service hires more military veterans than any other federal agency, and 30 per cent of those hired are disabled.  For me, that's a great way to support our vets.

 

On Christmas Eve, I sing with my church choir, then I head over to a friend's house for cocktails and to catch up on things we've been up to over the past year and reminiscing about people we knew that have died before us.  This year will mark the 30th time we've done this!  You would think it strange that living in a small town we'd bump into one another at various points of the year, but believe it or not, Christmas Eve is usually it!

 

Another tradition I celebrate is a trip to the cemeteries with my sisters.  We do this every year (since 1991) in May and December.  We decorate graves of family members, share a few cocktails and cigarettes (even though one of my sisters doesn't smoke), and take a lunch break at the local Dairy Queen!  It's quite a hoot, although, other family members don't like to go with us, in part, because we get a little rowdy by the time we get to our last stop!  Trust me, it's not like it used to be.  As we have aged, by the time we get to our last stop, we're too tired to carry on!

 

I thank you very much for sharing such special memories and traditions. 

 

I had to mail Christmas cards weeks ago to ensure they will arrive at proper time. I have not as yet received any. Some of my cousins and I have sent cards to each other since we came of age. It is sad to say that three have passed. I am happy to say that the daughter of one continues the tradition and two daughters of other one joined the circle also. I have been told that my Christmas cards are now considered special because they are so different. The grand-daughter of one cousin has taken an interest in English because of my cards and will begin taking lessons this fall.

 

I envy you having old friend to share your year. It must be very special time for you. I will remember to drink a toast to you and to your friend that evening.

 

I wish you and yours well.

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We also, based on Polish "tradition", place a small amount of money just outside the front door before the new year is rung in, and bring it back inside shortly AFTER.  My understanding is that the money is to be THROWN out the door at the chiming of the New Year bells.  We always did the former.

 

Sans may have more clarity on this.

 

 

I am sorry to say that I am not able to enlighten you concerning this. It was never tradition in my family to throw money away. ;)

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I am sorry to say that I am not able to enlighten you concerning this. It was never tradition in my family to throw money away. ;)

Ha! Hee hee!

 

Well, in the latter case, someone always goes out to retrieve it.  And to "throw money away" IS a tradition my WIFE often attempted to start, but I was able to not let it get carried away for the most part.  ;)

 

But I'm under the impression you're Eastern European, and the practice IS noted as Eastern European, so I took a chance on your being aware of it.  :)

 

Sepiatone

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