Christmas traditions don't have to be the expected ones with family that some people look forward to and others dread each year.
For myself, I didn't grow up with Christmas traditions because we didn't celebrate Christmas or many other holidays either. At Christmas time we just sat around the house and ate whatever there was and watched TV. My family were never into the big holiday things but I kind of feel like I missed out on the magic and the creativity and the memories of the excitement of the things you only do during the Holiday times.
Since my parents have passed and I am estranged from my brother and don't celebrate holidays with any of my other remaining relatives my Holiday traditions are now spent with my friends.
I have a few different groups of friends so I do things differently with all of them.
For the past 3 years I have tried to organize a gift exchange and dinner with my Food Blogger friends. This year was the most successful one yet. With the weather being perfect and no snow storm to get in the way and a location that was central for everyone to get to, this year everyone I invited was able to make it out to the dinner. Some were late but everyone was there to eat, drink and exchange fun gifts. We met up at the Keg in North York because my friends come from Markham, Maple, Thornhill, downtown Toronto and the Scarborough Bluffs area. It was a challenge to find a place that would be able to seat 7 of us and still be able to have it quiet enough to talk. The Keg fit the bill for location and comfort. Although it's a bit pricey and they had an even bigger party than ours so our food took a long time but we still had a great time catching up and doing our Secret/not so secret Santa exchange.
Another tradition that I spend with friends is actually hosted by one of my film festival friends who hosts an Open House at her home just before Christmas. Some of my Tiff Entourage team meet up at her house and enjoy the usually Potluck kind of snacks while we mingle with her other friends.
And what I hope to be a new and long lasting tradition was started last year at my house with my friend Adam, his husband and at the time his 3 year old daughter and their friend also joined us for Ugly Sweater and Christmas cookie decorating. His daughter has grown to love baking things and we thought it would be fun to decorate cookies. This year some of his other friends wanted to join the party so we had to move it from my tiny apartment to his house and we invited a couple more of his friends and I invited my friend, her husband and her 3 year old son.
This time we added 2 Gingerbread Houses for decorating, one bought by me was a traditional one and the other bought by Adam was a Hanukkah House which had blue and gold decorations. It's a good thing we had 2 because we broke one of the pieces on my house so it wouldn't stay together. Oh well. We had lots to decorate.
I pre-made dough and some Ugly Sweater cookies. We were going to have the kids and adults cut out cookies to bake but that didn't happen. The kids were happily playing downstairs with lego and all kinds of other toys while the serious adult decorators proceeded to have an Ugly Sweater decorating contest. Unfortunately I didn't win but we let the kids decide and there was a tie between 2 cookies. I hope to make this a new annual tradition until the kids are sick of doing it and the adults don't have the energy to decorate cookies anymore. It was a huge messy success and I hope it makes a lot of memories for the kids and the adults.
Even at work we had our annual Potluck, Secret Santa and this year an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest that competes with other offices. I didn't win that one either, oh well it would probably look bad if the organizer won anyway.
So you see you can choose whatever tradition you like and with whomever you wish to do it with. It doesn't have to be opening presents with family on Christmas day or dreading the family dinner.
Create your own new traditions with the people you love doing the things you love to do with them.