It was indeed a Merry Christmas this year thoroughly surrounded by family. The song "Tradition!" from Fiddler on the Roof pops in my head whenever some one asks me what I'm doing for Christmas because, well, it's been the same my whole life. And I like it that way. It's funny... I've been in foreign countries for 4 out of my last 8 birthdays, but I'm reluctant to leave during the holidays.
Christmas Eve we always go to a great aunt's house for a Norwegian-influenced party. There is a delicious food spread with some traditional Norwegian dishes such as lefse, krumkake and rullepolse. Then we sing carols around the Christmas tree while holding hands in two circles. Every year I vow to review song lyrics so that we can sing intelligibly on more than just the choruses, but I suppose part of the charm of our family choral endeavor is its slightly haphazard quality. Just when our throats are getting hoarse, Santa comes! He brings all the kids one gift, which is sort of the gateway for every one else to exchange presents.
Christmas morning is at my mom's with the immediate family, the highlight being of course the little kids, my one-year-old niece and eight-year-old niece. Later we head to another aunt's house for brunch, always waffles, strawberries, whipped cream, bacon, frittata, coffee, and mimosas. There is a freshness and serenity at my aunt's that I can't quite describe, and I like the mellowness of getting together early in the day instead of for dinner. Apart from the waffles, activities are always a little different- maybe a jenga tournament, a basketball game, watching old home-videos, or playing in the snow. This year we drew each other's names from a bowl and took turns saying one nice thing about that person. It was really sweet and brought more intention to the gathering. We head home in the afternoon to finish the mellow day, such a welcome change from the frenetic pace that usually leads up to the holiday.