A Kidder Family Christmas
Family traditions passed on from one generation to the next help build bonds between family members and instill a sense of consistency in this often changing world.
Family traditions passed on from one generation to the next help build bonds between family members and instill a sense of consistency in this often changing world. These practices can be something as simple as decorating the tree together, hanging stockings on Christmas Eve, playing a game or enjoying a favorite family recipe. It is not uncommon for new generations to add their unique twist to a tradition to help make it their own.
When I was growing up, my family played a game called Christmas Eve Gift. In theory, the first person to say “Christmas Eve gift” would receive a present to open. My brother and I would wake up in the morning, sometimes before sunrise, and eagerly run into our parents’ room in the hopes of getting to be the first one to say those three exciting words and earn a reward. In reality, everyone got to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and the rest were saved for Christmas morning.
I believe this tradition began with my grandmother when she was a little girl. The irony is that she grew up on a small farm, and though she claimed that she was blissfully unaware of how poor they were, the truth is there weren’t enough presents to go around for anyone to receive an extra one on Christmas Eve. Most of the gifts were homemade, and they were all saved for Christmas morning. However, this didn’t prevent my grandmother and her two siblings from the thrill of competing with one another on the morning of December 24 in this contest that could only be played once a year.
Now, my own two young daughters play this spirited holiday diversion. They enjoy calling their grandmother on December 24 to yell “Christmas Eve gift” exuberantly into the phone. My mother is now in the modern habit of checking her caller ID and answering the phone with those same three words rather than the customary “hello” on December 24, which receives a fit of giggles in response from the girls.
We also practice many holiday traditions from my husband’s side of the family. One of my favorites is cookie painting. We make dough for shortbread cookies, roll it out, cut it up and use small paintbrushes and food coloring to paint the cookies before baking them. Everyone gets a cookie to eat with his or her name on it, but the rule is that each person has to paint someone else’s name rather than their own. The remaining cookies are decorated with painted pictures, such as snowflakes, Christmas trees or any other image that the individual painters feel compelled to create. My mother-in-law likes to paint cookies with political sentiments or the names of charities that she supports.
Come to think of it, most of my husband’s holiday traditions center around food. Another delicious example is the Kidder Christmas coffee cake, which has been enjoyed each Christmas morning for many generations. It’s so tasty that it really should be enjoyed more than once a year.
When Christmas is over, we look forward to the family New Year’s Eve traditions that we share. We literally “ring in the new year” with a small silver bell, intended to honor the family New Year's Eve traditions that we share. We literally "ring in the new year" with a small silver bell, intended to honor the family members who are far away, and then we toast with rootbeer floats at midnight.