Here’s a (not-so-secret) secret about me: I LOVE family traditions, both in theory and in practice . . . which is why I am thrilled to be linking up today with ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures‘ Secondary Smorgasbord to read about other teachers’ favorite traditions!
In my family, we have several holiday traditions that I can’t imagine skipping! The weekend after Thanksgiving is all about the decorations — putting up the tree, getting out the Christmas music, sending out the holiday cards. Yes, I still send cards via snail-mail! I love receiving Christmas cards, so I want to keep brightening others’ holidays by sending cards to their mailboxes! We never miss our annual Christmas-light drive, with hot cocoa warming our mittened hands and “The Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait” crooning in the CD player!
On Christmas Eve, we gather with several of our dearest friends for dinner. Not just any dinner, but dinner prepared by one of our sweet friends, Karen, who is a professional chef and who never fails to amaze us with her Christmas Eve feast, starting with shrimp cocktail (and festive cocktails of the liquid variety!), ending with scrumptious cheesecakes, and somewhere in the middle we enjoy crown roast or prime rib or some other such deliciously perfect entrée. This is Karen’s gift to her friends. In return, we each bring a dish and a gift for her to take to the Ronald McDonald House the next day so the families staying there on Christmas Day have a nice meal to come home to after a long day spent at the hospital with their little ones. Among other dishes, I always send a huge bowl of my Cranberry Salad . . . a family favorite that graces the table on both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I contributed this festive recipe to the “The 2014 Secondary Teachers’ Holiday Recipe Book” (which is free, by the way):
Christmas morning in my home starts with holiday music and cinnamon rolls to wake everyone up, followed by stockings, gifts, and finding chocolate initials hidden in the tree (a nod to Dutch roots). My favorite gifts to open are the ornaments we always exchange with one another, trying to choose ornaments that symbolize something meaningful that happened during the year. In this way, our tree tells our family story.
After gifts, we prepare either a turkey or ham dinner for all those we know who don’t have somewhere else to be on Christmas Day, sending everyone home with plenty of leftovers to make sandwiches, potpies, soups, and other various left-over meals (our favorite leftover meal is turkey fajitas!) At the end of the day, after everyone has gone home with their gifts and leftovers, we crash by going to a movie. It’s a nice way to end the day, with pumpkin pie waiting at home after the movie!
We attend two other huge holiday get-togethers after Christmas Day, which I love because I adore the idea of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which starts on December 25th . . . and it gives us a chance to make oliebollen — homemade Dutch doughnuts — for our extended family! I always feel a bit melancholy the day the tree comes down and the Christmas music and movies get packed up . . . but I’m always grateful for another year of memories to add to our “family Christmas!”
In my classroom, I love the annual tradition of reading “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” and the wonderful discussions we have afterwards about the meaning of winter holidays — all winter holidays! (Click here to check it out!) I give each of my students a gourmet-flavored candy cane with colorful curly-ribbon and a “No Homework” coupon attached . . . a “No Homework” coupon from me is a really big deal! Students get to trade it for any one homework assignment they choose from January-May. I also give my students the gift of no homework over the holiday break. Students work hard and I want them to return to school in January rested and ready to dive in diligently . . . and I want them to enjoy all their own family traditions and get-togethers . . . so I do not assign homework over the holiday break. It’s my little way of keeping the spirit of Santa alive for my middle schoolers!
Drop me a note and tell me about your favorite traditions with your family or your class! You can also check out other Teacher-Bloggers’ favorite traditions here: