in which Christmas happened
The winter holidays seem to be a time of tradition for most folks. This is not quite the case with me, for various reasons. My extended family lives in Washington and Alaska, so we have not gathered together for a Christmas since I was 8 years old. Members at our Christmas dinner table have, I think, been different and in flux for the past five years. One of my grandparents is in a nursing home now, so she does not spend Christmas morning with us any longer. My dog died three years ago, and now we are joined by my mom's beagle, Baylee, instead when we open presents. This year, because he did not return to Iowa, R spent Christmas with myself and my parents.
The only few things that have never changed regarding Christmas at my parents' house are as follows:
-on Christmas Eve after mass we eat a glorious amount of tamales with queso and then watch a Christmas movie (for the past 6 years, this movie has been Love Actually)
-on Christmas morning, we open our stockings and then have more tamales for breakfast
-we open the presents from under the tree
-Christmas lunch/dinner is essentially the same as Thanksgiving dinner
I hope I never go a single Christmas Eve in my whole life without tamales. My dad sent an extra dozen of them home with myself and R to eat this week, too!
I grew up in Austin, so it is important also to note some of the holiday traditions of the city itself. For as long as I can remember, there has been a gigantic tree of lights in Zilker Park, which is near downtown, for the greater portion of December and into the new year. Originally, the tree accompanied the Trail of Lights, which was unfortunately, heartbreakingly discontinued due to budget cuts. The Trail of Lights was in the gigantic field across the street from Zilker Park (where ACL Fest takes place annually); one was supposed to park at Zilker across the street and then walk through the various displays of lights through the park (hot chocolate or apple cider from a vendor: optional)and return to the gigantic Zilker tree at the end of the excursion and grasp hands with a friend/lover/stranger/relative and spin around beneath the tree, looking up into the swirling strands of light. When I was growing up, I used to volunteer at the Trail of Lights with Girl Scouts every year and distribute short surveys at the exit. It was just part of being in Austin for the holidays; families and couples loved this bit of FREE holiday fun.
I decided that R ought to experience at least the Zilker tree, because he is new to Austin. We took a date night to eat dinner and sip margaritas at Chuy's, and then walked with full bellies to the tree. Due to the previously mentioned full bellies, there was certainly no spinning! But we walked beneath the tree--snapped some pictures--and observed the other groups of people present. Many others spinned. Some consumed overpriced funnel cake from a vendor. Though it was a cold night (by Austin standards, anyway), people had flocked to the tree and it was delightful to witness.
Happy Holidays, everyone!