Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is all about family traditions.  For me, Christmas Eve is one of my favorite nights of the year! There is nothing better than spending the night with family, then going to bed and waking up early for Christmas, the one morning of the year that I'm actually a morning person.  Everyone has their own traditions that they hold dear. Lisa and I thought we'd share ours with you. To the hope that no one gets coal in their stocking, Merry Christmas Eve!

Brickweg Family Traditions:

The crazy Brickweg clan puts a lot of stock into family traditions. We have a whole array of traditions that we have tried to keep up through the years. Some of my favorites are our Christmas Eve traditions.

Many years ago, we started a routine of getting Cripsy Cremes from the Mall of America location every Christmas Eve morning. The donut shop has since shut down and this tradition has now warped into getting breakfast or coffee at the MOA followed by picking out a puzzle (that we all agree on, of course). A puzzle to work on throughout Christmas break is also one of our long standing traditions. Nowadays, many of us don't get a Christmas "break" anymore. But we work on it when we can and the end result is then glued together and framed. My mom will switch the different frames around the house throughout the year. We learned that we don't prefer the puzzles that have been quick and easy but we, my dad and sister especially, love the ones that have taken weeks! The 5000 piece war ships puzzle (pictured) is still one of our proudest puzzle accomplishments.

While we are at the mall, we usually have a few people needing to grab that one last Christmas gift. We split up into groups and have a meeting point for a bit later. You always have to be careful to not let your advent angel see which store you saunter into. After coffee and puzzle shopping, we head home to get the table set, begin cooking and prepare for the rest of the evening. It's nice to have a few hours to get some things done before the evening commences. We then head over to church for evening mass, to participate in what Christmas is really about. Mass is always peaceful and beautiful.

After a delicious Christmas dinner together, we shed our nice church clothes for much more comfortable pajamas. Then we get ready to exchange advent angel gifts while creating what's known as the "Christmas Nest." While it varies by year, people grab blankets and pillows galore and throw them either by the tree or in front of the fireplace. We all snuggle in to spend the rest of the night together. While the pile of siblings usually results in foot fights, wrestling and arm punches, it is fun and warm and silly. It may sound cheesy but these days, the best gift of all is just being together. The evening then finishes off with some board games or a movie. We stay up much later now than we did when we were young. But since many of us older siblings now spend some portion of Christmas with a spouse's or significant other's family, we have to cherish every moment together! 
Walmsley Family Traditions:

In the Walmsley household we have a hard time straying from our Christmas Eve traditions, down to  the same food for our Eve meal each year.  Here's what can be expected at the Walmsley house over Christmas.  We always attend Christmas Eve mass, then come home and devour our meal.

*Filet Mignon : pricey but the best juiciest succulent steak you can get, but it wouldn't be true Walmsley style without melted butter to dip it in. This tradition gave Dave some pause when he first attended, until he realized just how serious we were about a delicious steak.
*Bread - always gotta have whether it's french bread or rosemary bread from Kowalskis
*Snow peas, Asparagus or Green Beans with Bacon - my brothers request each year
*Potatoes - grilled scallop potatoes or baked go perfectly with the meal

Stuffed, we build a fire in the fireplace and relax by listening to Christmas music (George Winston, Burl Ives Rudolph, Amy Grant, Josh Groban).  Just like the Brickwegs, my Dad pulls out a new puzzle to work on every holiday.  We then usually open 1 Christmas gift, which is a true measure of restraint since all those pretty gifts under the tree are hard to resist. We then test our skills and play a competitive, but friendly board game. Finally, finishing the night off with some dessert and lingering in the family room enjoying the Christmas tree, decorations, and fire before heading off to bed.

Then next morning, bright and early we unwrap presents which usually takes a few hours since we take turns going around opening 1 present at a time.  This year we are straying from the norm in one area, the present opening.  We decided to open ALL our presents on Christmas Eve! CRAZY I know. We'll see how we like this, since it gives Dave and I more opportunity to spend it with his family and maybe it'll become a new tradition for a while.  That's the fun with traditions, you can always add new ones to the old.

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