Creating Our Own Holiday Traditions

For the first time in my life, I'm not spending the holidays with my family.  At first, I wasn't sure it was something I/we could even do (without really disappointing our families...I have an unrealistic need to please everyone), but after getting screwed some unforeseen circumstances, it became necessary to stay home.   Since this will be our first holiday season without our families, I wanted to make the time extra special.  I began to think about what made the holidays so special in the past & it all boiled down to two things: traditions & togetherness.

As most of ya'll know, I was raised in a reform Jewish household.  I was Bat Mitzvah'd at 13, confirmed at 15,  president of my temple's religious school at 17 & graduated from our religious school at 18. My family went to services on every major holiday & often enjoyed the minor holidays, like Hanukkah, at various temple sponsored parties as well. Needless to say, despite my palate enjoying a shrimp cocktail or cheeseburger, it's fair to say I was pretty damn Jewish.
I can't talk about being all Jewish without sharing some Bat Mitzvah pics...
Even though Hanukkah gets the shaft during the holiday season (though it has gotten better...seriously where the hell was Mensch on a Bench when I was a kid) I've always loved the holiday season & a lot of that love comes from childhood memories.   Every holiday break, my sister & I were fortunate enough to visit my hibernating grandparents in Palm Beach, FL. We'd spend our days swimming in the pool, eating lunch at Greens Pharmacy & playing with other friends who were down there visiting their grandparents.   We'd take trips to FAO Schwartz where our Nana would inevitably spoil us & of course, no trip to Palm Beach was complete without Christmas dinner at the Palm Beach Country Club. Yes, we went out to a fancy schmancy Christmas dinner.  Celebrating the holidays in Florida was simply the best.
In my sister's bed at my grandparents condo in PB
As we've gotten older & my grandparents have passed, our holiday traditions had to change.  For a few years we still went down to Florida because that's just what our family did; it was tradition. We stayed in a different part of the city & created our own memories;  even J made the trip one year. But despite visiting my grandparents neighborhood & all our old favorite spots,  it just wasn't the same; something always felt like it was missing. So eventually my folks sold their vacation house & Christmas in Florida became just wonderful memories.
Of course Duke made the trip FL. (Duke has been there more times than J)
The first year we didn't go to Florida, we traveled to Michigan instead where 2/3 of our immediate families would be spending the holidays. J grew up in a mixed household, so for the first time, I would actually be celebrating Christmas (minus the whole Jesus thing.)  I had my own stocking, I baked Christmas cookies & I drank a lot of Bailey's because that's tradition in J's family.  With two little girls (J's cousins) who still believed in Santa, I was able to enjoy some of the magic I never experienced as a kid.  For 5 years, this was our new tradition.
My first stocking circa 2011 !

Last year's Christmas with Joey's sister & cousins

Now it's time to create some new traditions.  I channeled my inner Seth Cohen & decided we needed to bring the two holidays together in our own unique way & obviously, that started with decorations  A few years back while googling Hanukkah Bushes (that's a normal thing to google, right?) I came across this giant Menorah that also functioned as a Christmas tree.  Naturally, I went to go find this magical unicorn again & it was completely sold out.  Not willing to give up, I reached out to a good friend of ours at Studio 38 Designs in Chicago & asked if he thought he could build me a similar version.   Well here you have it, our baby Menorah Tree.
Each light is powered by batteries & can be turned on/off one at a time, perfect for Hanukkah!  There are 8 PVC pipes under the thick garland, it's just a tad hard to tell due to the proximity of each pipe to each other.   Also, nobody told me just how addicting it can be to buy ornaments.  I purposely tried to keep them as holiday generic as possible, with the exception of a few.
 I went with a winter white/metallic theme for the other decor because it just felt very festive!
To say I'm excited about how this all turned out would be a complete understatement.  I had SO much fun pulling all this decor together & I'm already getting ideas for next year!
In addition to the decor, we plan on spending our holiday watching Christmas movies while eating brisket, latkes & kegual. Best of both holidays!

Happy Holidays Everyone! Stay safe!
Fig is not so impressed with any of this.

1 comment:

  1. It's great! Thank you for sharing. I remember my fist holidays without family, it was fun, but pretty sad at the same time. This year we are going to celebrate in Italy, renting cars and going to Milan.