12 Days of Blogmas: Holiday Traditions

Just for Fun

Ho ho ho! It’s the first day of Blogmas* and we’re talking traditions.


Looking back, we didn’t really have set traditions for the holidays growing up other than being a Christmas Day family (by which I mean we didn’t open a present on Christmas Eve or read a special Christmas story or watch a particular movie, etc.). Everything was done for Christmas Day.

That bears mentioning only because our tradition, these days, is to gather at Mom’s on Christmas Eve for dinner and opening gifts. This came about mostly by accident back in 2006.

Aunt M had invited us all for Christmas to her house in New Jersey and on Christmas Eve, after dinner, we started a game of Cranium that we didn’t finish until after midnight. Someone remarked that it was actually Christmas, now, and someone else proposed we could exchange presents then and be able to sleep in in the morning.

Everyone scattered to collect presents, still unwrapped, from luggage and other hidey-holes, stuffing things in pillow cases or throwing blankets over larger items before reconvening in the living room. It was a silly, giggly moment of chaos and totally without pretension or pomp. We loved it!

And we most certainly slept in on Christmas morning before making a big birthday breakfast for K and then a lovely supper later that day.

The next year, when trying to decide when we were getting together for Christmas dinner, we thought back to how much fun our “Midnight Christmas” had been and decided to do it again. Only without the midnight part, since Mom wasn’t really keen on being up that late. This worked out incredibly well for my brother and sister-in-law as her birthday is Christmas day and they have to make a lot of stops with various family members that day.

We’ve continued the tradition of having Christmas Eve dinner and opening presents with the family for the last several years, and then Todd and I get a nice, quiet, and calm Christmas Day to ourselves where we exchange gifts and open our stockings. We used to host Christmas Eve as well as Thanksgiving, but when we moved to Thomasville there was a grumble about family having to travel so far (30 miles) for both, so Mom took back Christmas Eve.

Maybe the only thing I don’t like about this tradition is how it makes Christmas Day into a virtual non-event for us. With just Todd and I it seems silly to worry about when we get up or when we eat dinner that day or any specific events (Todd’s family is in Nebraska, so we don’t have the yours/mine/ours holiday shuffle to contend with). It also puts far less pressure on me to get the house all nice and decorated (which sometimes leads to a lack of motivation). Still, the downtime can be nice, and I’m sure we’ll make the most of it like we do every year. If nothing else it’s more time to play with our new toys–just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we don’t want toys for Christmas!

* * *

As part of Blogmas* I’ll be posting every week day (!!!) leading up to Christmas. Make sure you check back and also check out some of the other participants who link up over on the host blogs!


*What’s Blogmas? It’s a blogging event hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs.

Do’s and Don’ts for the Road Trip Reception

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

(Which totally makes it sound like our reception is being held on a bus, even though it’s not. Though we did consider, early on, renting a double-decker bus and having the entire wedding there as we drove around Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. Wouldn’t that have been a trip! *ba dum ching*)

If we could give our guests an expectation list for the reception, I think it’d go something like this…

  • DO find your seat, make yourself comfortable, and get to know your neighbors.

We’ll be putting together a seating chart and giving the yet-to-be-discussed favors a dual purpose as place cards. Slightly less for me to obsess about than escort cards and their many and varied display options.

  • DON’T worry about bringing cash, the bar is open.

Granted, we’re not doing a full bar, just beer, wine, and the signature cocktail (which will be transferred from the cocktail hour to the reception during the ceremony), but I just have never been comfortable with cash bars at weddings. I understand that it’s the usual for some areas and in some cultures, but I’d rather serve a limited selection and be able to cover it than expect our guests to pay for anything.

  • DO feel free to dance if you’d like.

There will be music, but we’re not having a DJ or planning on having a raucous dance party. Most of it is timing: early afternoon does not seem to lend itself to shaking one’s groove thang (inhibitions seems to fall with the light levels, don’t they?) and we Road Trips just aren’t dance party types. To that end, the music choices during dinner and afterwards seem to be leaning in the slower, ballads, and big band direction.

  • DON’T expect to see the bouquet or garters tosses, or a Dollar Dance for that matter.

Like many bees before me, I don’t feel the need to pitch projectiles at the few single ladies in our group and there’s no good reason I can think of to have Mr. Road Trip fumbling under my skirt for all the world to see. The Dollar Dance, though, that’s actually pretty common at weddings on my mother’s side of the family, but it’s another thing I’ve just never been all that fond of. Especially when they don’t just collect the money, they hand out stick-pins to attach the bills to the bride and groom’s clothing. I’m not sure I want drunken guests with sharp pointy objects anywhere near me, right?

  • DO feel free to make a toast if you feel so moved.

Without a wedding party, and since we’re hosting the wedding ourselves instead of our parents, who toasts is somewhat of a fuzzy area. We’re not going to ask anyone to do this, but we’re also not going to stop anyone who wants to say something nice about us! We’ll make our public thank-yous after we do the (cup)cake cutting, I presume.

  • DON’T bring the drama.

Part of crafting our guest list as we did means that a lot of the drama that comes with big family gatherings is nixed from the get-go. Still, schtuff happens, and there’s still the matter of how Mr. RT’s divorced-and-don’t-really-get-along parents will make it through with so few people to buffer. That’s the downside to a small guest list, I suppose–we’ll just have to be careful who we sit where, I guess!

  • DO enjoy yourselves!

We certainly can’t guarantee a good time for all, but we can do our best to provide a setting that promotes it! Our U-shaped table will, I hope, help the conversation flow through and around the assembled guests during brunch. The desserts will be self-served, however, giving our guests the opportunity to stretch their legs and move around a bit if they so choose. We find, at most of the gatherings we arrange or attend, that people pretty much hang out and talk until the food or drinks run out, so our reception may not run the full 4 hours we’re allotted, but I’d rather exit early than have things dwindle awkwardly.

What Do or Don’t did you wish you could tell your guests?

Planning a No-Repeat Ceremony

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
NOT-to-do list, or things to avoid re-doing from one wedding to the next

image created by Miss Road Trip

While some brides and grooms have their hearts set on traditional vows to feel part of a larger whole, many a modern nuptial focuses on individuality. The desire to be unique and “US” is a frequent sentiment among wedding bloggers.

No where is this need to set yourself apart more apparent, though, than when one has been married before.

Everyone has baggage, everyone has a past, but on a day like your wedding,
the past is the last thing you want to be reminded of.

Let’s call these sort of things Anti-Priorities, shall we?

Anti-Priorities could include any of the following:

  • Same wedding colors or theme
  • Same dress!
  • Same vows (unless, of course, you’re going with the traditionally-worded type)
  • Same ring (unless we’re talking a family heirloom)
  • Same readings/soloist/songs during the ceremony
  • Same first dance
  • Same catering choices
  • Same garter (find something else to be your something old, please!)
  • Same honeymoon!

For me, it’s less about what we’re not doing the same and more about the things I didn’t get to do the first time (no dancing at the reception meant no first dance–that’s something I’d LIKE to do, this time around, if it can be worked out in the space we have). But with both Mr. Trips and I being married before, can you imagine the awkwardness if I’d chosen the same dress or first dance song as his first wife?

For the record, their first dance was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. I’m having one of those The Wedding Planner-like flashes of inspiration: the theme song to an incredibly tragic movie may not be the best choice to kick-off a lifetime of happiness, you know?

It’s tough enough, when dating, finding out that your guy’s favorite date spot is littered with memories of his previous dates. You want this one to be different (hell, you want it to work!), it’s only natural.

Recycling is big these days, but I don’t think you need to recycle your wedding ideas, do you?

Reviving an Easter Tradition


When I was a little girl, we lived with my grandmother for a few years before moving several states away from all of our extended family. Of that time, holidays always seem to stand out in my memories. Easter was no exception.

We’d color eggs the night before, making sure that each egg bore the name of a family member and then, before I went to bed, we’d leave the carton with the colored eggs out on the table. In the morning I’d get up, run to the kitchen table and peer up at all the eggs nestled amongst that cellophane Easter grass on a big silver platter.

One year I swear I saw the Easter bunny hopping away down the driveway, but everyone says I just dreamed that.

Well, last fall my aunt–the youngest of my father’s siblings–was in town and we were reminiscing after dinner and this story came up. Turns out my aunt was in possession of said silver platter (Maw-Maw having passed away while I was in high school, many [many] years ago) and a couple of months ago that very platter was FedExed to me at work.

So this year, with friends coming over for Easter dinner (my family was either out of town or otherwise engaged on Sunday), Todd and I revived that tradition by making everyone an egg with their name on it (plus a few more) and, just before they arrived, set them all out on the tray.

Easter Eggs on a family tray

In year’s past I’ve gone to various lengths with egg dying (the year of the plaid-dyed eggs stands out as the most memorable) but this year we went old school–colored dye dots and a wax crayon. Instead of the shredded cellophane, though, I used the edible Easter grass (looks and feels like Styrofoam but is actually pretty tasty)–some things are worth updating!

One of these days we’ll buy a “real” dining room table

With 8 people* for dinner we swapped out our small (yet completely functional) IKEA kitchen table for a folding table and our patio table brought in for extra elbow room. These tables work great but they’re still not wide enough to hold place settings and the serving dishes so the meal was served buffet-style from the kitchen. Except the rolls, those fit on the table.

Brioche Bunny Rolls

To dress up the plain ivory tablecloth and plates, I cut egg-shaped place mats from wallpaper sample books and added mismatched napkins from my magpie-like stash (I buy random cloth napkins when they go on sale and use them as covers for hand-bound journals)–no two anything matched. A mini-“basket” (cocktail cup full of candy) at each place-setting finished the suddenly festive table.

Easter TableThe menu was

(deviled eggs, pimento cheese with celery, chocolate covered matzo, & spinach dip with crackers)

Decorated Deviled Eggs

Andalusian Lamb (come back for the recipe on Thursday)
Roasted Vegetables (red potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, carrots and onions)
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Salad
Fruit Salad
Brioche Bunny Rolls

Easter Buffet

And one of our guests brought Cheesecake for dessert with a choice of toppings. Everything was delicious (though I still need to tweak the dressing on the broccoli/sprout salad, should I ever make it again).

The kitchen table got moved into the library to hold all the Easter goodies. Frankly, I’d hoped our guests would have taken more candy home with them–we still have quite the sugar haul for just 2 people.

Easter Candy Candy Candy

After dinner we kept on with the traditions (this time, a newer one) and played a round of Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, snacked on candy and engaged in light-hearted smack talk as we tried to be the last bunny standing with the right carrot. Todd was that bunny.

It was a wonderful afternoon spent in even better company with enough leftovers that we don’t need to cook for at least another day. A win all the way around.

*we were supposed to be 8, but a couple of last-minute cancellations brought us down to only 6


Food safety note: I’m sure (I hope) my family didn’t actually leave the eggs out all night. Most likely they went back in the fridge right after I went to bed and someone got up very early and set them out before I got up. At least I hope so. Even hard-boiled eggs should be refrigerated, folks.