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Blending Traditions (or Not)


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#1 rosered135

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:29 PM

Maybe your FOO always put up the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve and your spouse's FOO always did it the day after Thanksgiving. Or your FOO always gave one gift to each person for each night of Hanukkah but your spouse' gave all the major gifts out on the first night. Or your FOO always celebrated Kwanzaa and your spouse' never has. Or...

How have you found ways, if any, to include traditions from both sides of the family? Or have you just dropped them all and started your own? Or?? Would love to hear about it, below, and please remember that your experience may help someone else!

#2 footballmom

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:43 PM

Interesting question Rose. FBD's parents were from the North and mine from the South. Santa brought their tree each year, we cut ours down the Saturday after T'giving, their's stayed up until late January, ours came down the day after Christmas. Our Santa was put out unwrapped theirs was wrapped with huge bows and beautiful paper. We got 3 gifts from Santa each year, they got dozens. My parents always gave each other nice gifts on Christmas Eve, they never gave each other gifts at Christmas (it was all about the kids).

We put our tree up mid-December and take it down January 2nd. Santa is wrapped and we did something between the 3 and the dozens. FBD and I always give each other a token gift because we wanted the boys to know that other people counted at Christmas also. We merged our traditions, just as we merged our religion and so many other things. This year we are adding in 2 children and will be merging their traditions with ours (Santa has a pot of coffee waiting on him and everybody makes everybody else a Christmas card on Christmas Eve and gives them out on Christmas morning). It is getting close and I am getting excited.
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#3 Elaine1954

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 01:18 PM

My MGPS had 13 GC and my GM always had a gift for each night of Hanukkah for all of us even if she didn't see us every night. She would give the gifts to my parents and they would take them home wrapped after the first night. I have adopted much of my MGM's grand parenting style with my GC, what she did throughout the years. I received nightly gifts from my parents as well. DH only got a gift on the first night and my ILS never gave gifts to their AC until DH married and we gave them for a few years. usually it was a smaller gift. the few years that my parents were alive my DM would take me to the store to choose something for the house for DH and I. My DS' received nightly. They both intermarried and we have celebrated Christmas as well with ODILS family since they were in college. The GC get way too much from everyone. ODIL's mother and I decided when OGS was having his first holidays that she would only buy Christmas presents for the GC and I would only buy Hanukkah presents. So far that's worked best as these two GC get way too much. Like FBM, DH and I always had a small exchange, we thought it was a good lesson for our DS' to see us give to one another. ODS and ODIL have adopted some of our traditions. They do a shop and leave the GC at our house overnight. They too do a small gift exchange. When they did their shop and the GC stayed at my house I bought paintable picture frames and magnets. They painted, I took their picture and framed it. They gave it to their parents the first night. Tonight they're coming to my house and ODS and ODIL will receive the magnets.

#4 Treiffy

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 05:31 PM

Rosered, interesting to contemplate and a fun topic on a horrible news day.

DH and I were raised completely differently. His family cut the tree together, after 5 Dec, and affixed white lights. His parents decorated with gorgeous blown glass balls and Angels after he went to bed on Christmas Eve. They topped their tree with a beautiful German Angel, we still use her, she oversees the crèche. We cut our trees also, and only decorate with white lights and top with stars. MIL gave me a horseshoe tree and we now have 14, one for each of us, with pretty and sentimental ornaments.

They had unwrapped gifts from Santa for DH, MIL, and FIL. PILs had no other family near. I wrap the gifts we give to everyone. My AC place unwrapped gifts from Santa under the tree, for themselves as well as GC. DH and I always give each other very nice gifts, unwrapped, under the tree, from Santa. PIL family did not do stockings, rather shoes on Dec 5, same for our family.

My GC and I have been working on homemade gifts for everyone. All year we’ve been knitting, painting ceramic plates (CC for cheap ceramics) and crèche sets, using clay to form up primitive Santas and snowmen, making paper, candles and jar o’ cookies.

My parents centered my holiday traditions on the Nutcracker, parade, tea, beautiful clothing, religious observance and food. My family did not “do” trees or gifts, none of that was a part of their tradition. Mom loved pretty tchotchkes and had many beautiful things behind gorgeous glass; some really were “Christmas ornaments”. I have all her lovelies, viewable, but mostly unused, in a breakfront. I do use mom’s “Christmas ornaments” as well as MILs German pretties, on our horseshoe trees.

#5 rosered135

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 05:55 PM

These are delightful, ladies! Thank you!

Keep 'em coming, people! And hey, if you've had a problem compromising on this/that tradition, I hope you feel comfortable enough here to share that story, too. Or if a tradition changed - and then changed again. I know I've told this b4 but it's an example - Over the years, when I was growing up, my DM developed a tradition of writing a little rhyme or saying to go with each gift and having the recipient try to guess what it was b4 they opened it. We didn't do it for every present but DH LOVED the idea and really got into it. So by the time my kids were old enough to understand, we were doing it for everything except stocking stuffers! (Well, my ILs didn't but we did and so did DM.)

That was on Christmas Day. But, eventually, ODD and SIL started having us over on Christmas Eve, as I've often mentioned and we began doing a gift-exchange then. SIL felt the reading of sayings and the guessing made the event take much too long. And while ODD still enjoyed it, she was concerned b/c, until recently, they were epected to arrive at SIL's dad's home early enough the next day (or late the night b4) to be there Christmas morning. So now we don't do any poems of saying for a gift, unless there's something we really want to say. Frankly, IMO, as much as I enjoyed the custom, it's a relief not to have to think of a saying for all the gifts and write it on a piece of paper attached (even though DH came up with most of the ideas, guess who did all the writing and attaching?). And I think it's better for the GC, who really just want to get to their own presents, anyhow! :)

But that give me still another thought - How about ways in which an IL has impacted on your traditions, if any?

#6 SueSTx

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

In my FOO growing up, we didn't have a lot of money for the siblings to spend on each other. Often, the older kids would 'gift' the younger ones an hour of tutoring, a Saturday afternoon set/curl or special baked treats. When my youngest sister was a teenager, and we were all home for the holiday (the only year I can remember being there for a Christmas after I married) she wrote a note for my youngest brother who was enlisted in the Air Force and wrapped it in a jewelry box, and into another larger box etc until it was in a huge box with a giant bow. He was getting exasperated before he got to the smallest box and found the note. She had given him a 'coupon' for his favorite chocolate cake to be baked on his request.

This method of wrapping has cropped up over the years, but always to a different person and only once per season.
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#7 Treiffy

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:04 PM

Rosered, my PILs impacted every single holiday tradition, all in a good way. When MIL was living, she went with us to my parents home for Thanksgiving and fit in with our traditions (FIL too, he just died young). DH and my traditions are mostly PIL German Christmas traditions, tweaked a little bit.

We ride in a wagon into the snowy woods for bonfires, we have an Advent wreath, and we do other PIL favorites as well. We have a cowboy, dressed as Santa with chaps and a hat, ride up Christmas Eve with candy and citrus. Really, Christmas is "all about" my PIL family traditions!

#8 SueSTx

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:12 PM

Neither my FOO or the ILs had any real holiday traditions. We always put up a tree and each family member got one gift to the best of my memory. We always stayed home for Christmas as did the ILs. That is the tradition we kept with our children and they as adults have chosen to keep with theirs.

I enjoyed baking cookies and sharing with friends, DD does this also.

#9 jaci

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:29 PM

My pareents put the tree up on Christmas Eve, and took it down the day after. It was always a real tree but daddy was afraid of fires. Back then, we used big lights that wasn't as safe as today's lights. DH parents used a fake tree and always put it up on Dec 18, no matter what daythat fell on. They never took their tree down until Dec 31. No outside decorations for either family.

DH & I decided to get a real tree this year. Its so pretty!! We bought it from a store. We have no set day to put the tree up, just whenever the mood strikes. I usually take the tree and inside decorations down the day after Christmas, outside lights down New year's Eve. I love Christmas decorations, but I get tired of all the festive colors. By the day after, I am so ready for life (and my house) to get back to normal!

#10 Treiffy

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:44 PM

Jaci, OMG. How could I forget the MILLIONS of white outside lights. Griswold's have competition here.

#11 skipped

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:19 AM

My husband and I laugh because we were basically raised the same. We met my junior year of college. We dated for months before I met his family and found out how similar our lives were. My dad worked in the steel mill as a laborer. His dad worked in a different steel mill as a tool and die maker. ( His dad was very smart.) We were both raised Lutheran. We both went to "city" public schools. Our families had the same values. We basically had the same kind of Christmas growing up so there wasn't any "blending" required. All we had to do was figure out how to "share" Christmas.

#12 rosered135

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:41 AM

Really enjoying these, ladies!

Hope to hear more, everyone!

#13 Elaine1954

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:17 PM

Jaci, I hope your parents were able to enjoy Christmas with all the putting up and taking down of the tree. It sounds exhausting!

#14 jaci

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

Jaci, I hope your parents were able to enjoy Christmas with all the putting up and taking down of the tree. It sounds exhausting!


Oh they did. Christmas was so simple back then. Our tree wasn't fancy or anything, just a little tree with a few lights & home made ornaments. I never remember mama getting stressed over Christmas. She did a lot of baking but she started really early and froze it until Christmas.

#15 ToodleMama

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 09:10 PM

For the most part, we have done well. We talked about what traditions were important to us and went from there. For example, Santa didn't wrap gifts for me but did for DH. I didn't want to wrap Santa gifts, it wasn't important to DH, so I "won." I wanted to make cool stockings out of the girls' first Christmas outfits, DH really wanted specific stockings that looked like his as a kid, but he cared more than I did so he "won." The hardest thing for me has been our Christmas Day traditions. When I was a kid we stayed home all day. DH barely had time to open his gifts before his parents were rushing them out the door to go to his grandparents' house. It was really important to me that my kids get to stay home all day and have the same Christmas I remembered; it was equally important to DH that we go to his grandparents and have the same Christmas he remembered. We have "compromised" by going later in the day to the family gathering, rather than before lunch. I still don't like it, and last year ODD cried at having to leave her gifts, but it is the best solution we have found so far. The difference for me is that the girls don't have any cousins there to play with, as they are the first great-grandchildren and the only ones who will be at the gathering, so it isn't much fun for them. DH got to play with his cousins as a kid so he thinks it's the best way to have a holiday, but I don't feel like he's really seen it from the perspective of the kids. He thinks it would be boring to spend all day home and not see everyone, that they can play with their stuff the day after Christmas.

Most of the smaller traditions, to be honest, DH didn't pay attention to or doesn't remember from his being a kid. He's just not sentimental about that stuff. So he doesn't remember what his mom made for Christmas Eve dinner, for example, or whether they ever made cookies or gingerbread houses together, so all of those traditions for my kids are things I either started on my own or carried over from my own childhood.

#16 BSW

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:00 PM

Growing up, we used to go to Disneyland every Christmas Eve. We had the Park to ourselves, and it was one of the best kept secrets! As a child, I loved this tradition! Now I hear it’s one of the worst days to go, so DH and I haven’t even tried it with the kids. Afterwards, we would go to Christmas Eve mass. The next day, we always did gifts and an early dinner.

DH’s parents started celebrating Christmas when they immigrated here, but the big Kahuna has always been Easter. So, during the first few years of our marriage, after trying to give equal time to both sides and feeling miserable, because we did not own the day, we set up a tradition of going to mass on Christmas Eve, staying home to open gifts and spend family time through the afternoon on Christmas, then going over to my parents (who live 5 minutes away) for the afternoon/evening. DH’s parents/BIL are always invited to come along. In return for a day that is heavily weighted in my favor, DH and his FOO are always given preference on Easter, even if their orthodox Easter falls on the same day as mine (and the kids).

That was our compromise, and it seems to work!
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#17 rosered135

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:35 PM

I think it's great the way some of you have resolved these differences so easily! If only all family/IL problems were so simply solved, as well! :)

#18 JustaGrandma

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:47 PM

Rose I think the key to resolving differences is to be flexible, open minded and keeping your partner's feelings in mind. One shouldn't have to stuff down wishes, feelings or traditions they'd like to keep just to keep the peace with a spouse.

#19 rosered135

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

Well-said, JG!

#20 rosered135

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:09 PM

Meanwhile, if you're reading this, why not join in? And Happy Holidays!