There’s a part of my brain that feels like it just switches over to autopilot as soon as Thanksgiving passes. It’s the holiday season! Follow the steps, execute the typical moves, make it to December 25th in one piece! Sure, there are some variations each year, but the basic goals are the same.
Add to this the fact that Monkey’s kindergarten teacher is the same one that Chickadee had, two years ago. This was not an accident. I LOVE LOVE LOVE his school and this teacher and her team. They did such a wonderful job with Chickadee that I requested the same class for Monkey. Part of what this means is that Monkey does a lot of the same things that Chickadee did. Same crafts, same field trips, same programs.
Same “Family Celebrations” survey.
The first time around I played nice. This time I’m thinking maybe I should just put it all out there.
What is your family’s cultural background?
Monkey comes from a very diverse background.
On his father’s side I believe he has some British blood in addition to early American and Cherokee heritage. His ancestors on that side have a fine tradition of living in the country, shooting and eating squirrels (tastes like chicken, or so they told me), and marrying their own cousins. Which explains a lot, really. His modern relatives on that side of the family are a devoutly Christian bunch with racist tendencies, having split into two factions: Those who prize education and hard work and those who are busy talking smack about the other ones.
On his mother’s side, he comes from a heritage of eastern European Jews who emigrated to the States… ummm… sometime before WWII. His ancestors on that side value education, wealth, and assorted kvetching. His modern relatives on that side of the family are “cultural Jews” (read: non-religious) who like gourmet food and say things like “Any child of mine is going to college, non-negotiable!”
What holidays does your family celebrate?
We’re just talking this winter season, right? Yes? Okay.
The main focus is on Christmas. Twice! Because children of divorce are statistically pre-disposed to a host of relationship problems and greater probability of divorce, themselves, but BY GOD they get to have twice as much loot! (Please be sure to work that into your curriculum.)
We do also recognize Chanukah at least one night, due to our Jewish heritage and abiding love of deep-fried food.
What are some special family traditions that you share?
Well, there are several which we observe. My personal favorite is when we get out all of the candle lamps–which are tangled into an unwieldy mass–and start setting them in the windows. What a wonderful way to signify to weary travellers that we will offer respite if needed. (Not that we would. There are crazy people out there, you know. I have chains on the doors.) Anyway, some of the candle lamps stay on whenever plugged in, some have sensors, some have timers. It’s pretty exciting, that first week, trying to figure out how to synch up all the lamps, before just giving up. Good times.
We also all look forward to the holiday baking, which is a wonderful time of family togetherness and also great hilarity when I burn the shit out of something and end up either chiselling it out of the pan or–when we’re very lucky–actually setting the inside of the oven on fire. The kids nearly always learn some new words while we’re doing that!
During the Advent season we delve deeply into the story of Jesus’ birth, mostly in the form of the children taking turns rearranging the nativity sets into various inappropriate tableaus that may include Rescue Heroes, Polly Pockets, or Mr. Potato Head. After two or three stern warnings, and as Christmas Day approaches, this changes to the ongoing pursuit of “Who can hide the baby Jesus for the longest before Mama notices?”
Oh! Also, Santa’s elves (those little scamps) always bring the children new, matching pajamas on Christmas Eve while we’re at church. It’s just a little touch of magic to kick off the excitement. And I’m sure that the elves don’t mind at all that it’s always nearly impossible to find coordinating, girl/boy Christmas-themed pajamas in the correct sizes, in time, without spending a whole buttload of money or practicing some of those colorful phrases that come in handy during baking.
Would you like to share any traditions with our class? (pictures, books, special holiday foods…)
Oh, I’d love to! But I’m pretty sure the current injunction prohibits it. Sorry.