Blessed Yule!! – A Winter Solstice Mash-Up

This time of year always evokes some pretty strong emotions in me, mostly because I have such fond memories of the holiday season from my childhood. Despite not celebrating Christmas in the same sense anymore, there’s still this magickal feeling that takes over every year, a feeling that I absolutely want to instill in our own children.

Since we are interfaith, there are many ways in which our little nuclear family can honor this time of year and celebrate that magick. I’ve come to learn that many of my friends also celebrate the winter holidays in several different ways, too, so I invited everyone to share their holiday traditions! From secular Christmas to religious Chanukah, from Florida “winters” to inspiring Solstices, and everything in between, y’all sure did deliver!

So this year is going to be a mash-up of all of them, celebrating not only our personal take on the holidays, but including yours as well! Thank you all for participating, and in typical Coexist Cafe fashion: HAPPY EVERYTHING! :)

 

What IS Yule, Anyway?

I get this question every year without fail. In fact, it surprises a lot of people (my awesome attorney-boss included, haha) that Pagans get a holiday to themselves to celebrate every winter, too! This is more ironic than anything considering that most of our current holiday traditions have Pagan beginnings, but when this time of year is so focused on Christmas, strangely enough, Yule gets lost in the shuffle!

Yule is a modern English word used to describe an old twelve-day religious festival observed by Northern Europeans. For simplicity’s sake, even if the festival went by a different name for a certain group, I’ll be using “Yule”. :) The festival was later absorbed into and equated with the Christian festival of Christmas, taking many traditions and adapting their own practices. Santa Claus, the myth of Jesus Christ, and the trappings of the season (trees, stockings, caroling, everything!) are all derivatives of old Yuletide traditions.

The solstice celebration likely originated with the Norse people, who viewed Yule as a time for merrymaking, feasting, and sacrifice (if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed… and I wouldn’t put it past them). Traditional customs included the Yule log, a decorated tree, and wassailing.

Thanks to culinarychef.com!

The Celts of the British Isles celebrated Yule as well, called midwinter to them. Not much is known about their traditions as they’ve been lost through the ages, but those that are known still persist today. Though while they still collect mistletoe, I’m pretty sure they don’t sacrifice a white bull like Pliny the Elder said Druid priests did back then!

Then there are the Romans, who had their own winter festival, Saturnalia. Full of general merrymaking, a lot of gambling, even more alcohol, and other debauchery, the week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn — in fact, the common greeting around that time was “Io, Saturnalia!” There was sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves (we ARE talking Roman times), and feasting. On top of all the debauchery, and probably more importantly, the festival was to honor an agricultural god in the hopes for a fertile and abundant crop in the spring.

Thanks to serenedominic.com!

Oh, and as mentioned above, Jesus Christ wasn’t the first Son of God… or Sun God, more accurately. Four thousand years ago, long before Christianity started popping up, ancient Egyptians celebrated the rebirth of Horus, the god of the Sun. This became wildly popular with other civilizations, which took to honoring the welcoming back of the Sun, especially as these civilizations started to realize that things went swimmingly with their crops and abundance… until the weather got cooler. Each year, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth played over and over, and they saw that the Sun did return after a period of cold and darkness. Good reason to celebrate, if you ask me!

As their religious base grew, Christians took full advantage of many of these traditions and used them to their advantage, adopting them and applying them to their own religion in an attempt (one that proved pretty effective!) to convert the Pagans. Within a few centuries, Christians had everyone worshiping a new holiday celebrated on 25 December! Not too shabby, if you ask me… though it might behoove them to remember from where all their traditions came. ;)

In some current Neopagan traditions, the Yule celebration stems from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representative of the light of the new year, tries every year to usurp the old Holly King, the symbol of darkness. As we can see, the Oak King indeed kicks the Holly King’s ass every year, and the light does indeed return. This ass-whoopin’ reenactment is popular among some Wiccan and Pagan rituals.

Thanks to ArwensGrace at deviantart.com!

The sun returns! The light returns!
The earth begins to warm once more!
The time of darkness has passed,
and a path of light begins the new day.
Welcome, welcome, the heat of the sun,
blessing us all with its rays.

 

Post Round-Up

Here’s a round-up of posts from TCC’s previous years, as they’re definitely interesting (at least I think so):

I also really enjoyed these posts from other Pagans this year, and thought you would, too!

 

Facebook Friends Chime In!

Last week, I posed the question of how you celebrate the winter holidays on Facebook, and I received some great responses! (I also asked on my personal page, and received some responses there as well.) Below are some of your insights, and some fun pictures to go along with some of them.

See, I love this. It gives you time to spend with your family without the stress that typically accompanies it.

Hahaha! One of my favorite things growing up was getting that themed Christmas ornament to hang on the tree each year. Mine were actually Barbie ones (I’m not entirely sure why, either!), and I’m pretty sure my mom still has and hangs it most years!

My dad had the Star Trek ones. :) In fact, my sister and I preferred them off the tree as toys than we did ON the tree…

SHE’S NOT EVEN KIDDING!! :D

If anyone ever wonders why I miss Florida, this is exactly why. ;)

Mmm, challah and Lughnasadh! Now THAT’S a tradition I could sink my teeth into! :cymbalcrash:

I also like the idea of creating your own butter. Might have to try that… with a little dance party, of course. :)

I love getting an atheist’s perspective on this! I’m of the belief that atheist children end up knowing more about a wider array of religions than many of those religions’ adherents, and this is exactly why. Checking out books? Reading and discussion? Delving into the actual history of the holidays? Love love LOVE it! It’s the same thing as I’d want to instill in our children, even if they aren’t raised atheists. :)

OH, and she had some amazing photos to share! Remember the reference to the Trek Tree? You can thank Sarah for that one:

Trekkie Tree!

Santa “Claws”, hahahahaha!

Sarah’s adorable daughter sampling some goodies.

And Tori shares her story below about extending winter celebrations from Yule to the day after Christmas! These are just some additional things they do to make the week even more special.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in and shared their holiday traditions with us! :)

 

A Week of Christmas (a special post by Tori Zigler)

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions what Matt and I are planning to do with the holidays, considering I’m Pagan, Matt and his family are Jewish, and my family is Catholic. The easiest response, of course, is to say, “We’re going to celebrate all of them!”

… easier said than done, am I right?

We’re still lost for ideas, especially since we want to start new traditions with our children and would like to celebrate all three in a way that both separates the significance of each and melds them so they make sense together. So I asked you, my faithful readers, over on my Facebook page to send me your holiday traditions, no matter what you celebrate! As you can tell above, y’all definitely delivered. :)

I did get a special word by email from a good friend of mine, Tori Zigler, a prolific children’s writer who herself is part of an interfaith family — she and her husband identify as Pagan, but their families do not, so they’ve had to create their own traditions! See how they make the winter celebrations last not only on Yule and Christmas, but all season long…

It’s always seemed like a real shame to me that, after all the preparations and expense, within 24 hours Christmas is over and all that’s left is the mess. Wouldn’t it be nice if Christmas lasted longer?

Yes, we thought so too! So, because of that wish, and the fact we’re Pagan and the rest of the family aren’t – meaning that we wanted to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but they didn’t – we decided to make it happen. Besides, the Roman celebration of Saturnalia lasted for eight days, so we saw no reason our celebration couldn’t last for several days too!

So, here’s what we do:

Instead of one or two expensive gifts, we buy 1 expensive gift and 4 cheaper ones each. The cheaper ones are exchanged on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December, and the expensive one on the 25th. The expensive one gets a slightly different label to the others so we know to not grab that one from under the tree until the 25th, but the 4 cheaper gifts are grabbed at random from under the tree. We started doing this both to spread out the gift giving and because it gives us time to enjoy and appreciate each gift before moving on to the next one. Also, ‘Santa’ usually visits on the 24th, filling our stockings with treats, and placing a small gift for us under the tree from him.

On the 21st of December we usually do some kind of a ritual, even if it’s a very small one. Last year, for example, I did a ritual to chase off unwanted houseguests, which seemed appropriate since we’d pretty much only just moved in here.

The days from the 21st through the 25th of December are then filled with any holiday activities we want to do. Always involving holiday baking, the watching of holiday movies, and the reading of holiday books, but usually also involving the making of some sort of handmade holiday decoration. Last year, for example, we made some decorated baubles for the tree, and also some penguin tree ornaments (there were four, but we gave three away). Other holiday activities may be included; pretty much anything you can think of really… Holiday parties with family and friends, holiday games, more baking (especially good if family is visiting for a party or to join in your feast), build a snowman (if there’s snow), or whatever. The key thing is to be doing things together, preferably things with a holiday feel to them, though that’s not essential.

On the 26th of December is when we have our holiday feast. It used to be that the 26th was when we had a buffet with the family, but now that we live away from the family we’ve changed things a little. What we do now is phone them on the 25th to wish them “Merry Christmas” and exchange news on who got what from who, and so on, then we have our Christmas dinner on the 26th instead. The reason for this is a combination of not wanting to try and cook a full roast between phone calls, and the fact it then leaves us free to enjoy the phone calls and exchanging of final gifts without having to worry about burning the potatoes. Besides, we technically have two roast dinners to make, since I’m a vegetarian and my hubby isn’t, so we make a vegetarian roast and a meat roast. Last year, for example, I had a cranberry nut roast to go with my potatoes and veg, hubby had ham. Making two different roasts in our little kitchen is hard work, but it’s worth it.

Also, the good thing with making those roasts just for us is that there’s enough left over for the next day, so on December 27th, all we have to do is enjoy leftovers and relax; an option we took with leftover buffet food in the past too. We don’t really count that as part of our holiday celebrations though, because it’s basically a day to rest from all that celebrating. I suppose you could count it though.

And that, my friends, is how to make your holiday celebrations last a week!

Tori is an eclectic Pagan, a poet, and a writer of children’s books. Her series include “Magical Chapters” and “Toby’s Tales“. Tori can also be found on Facebook! She currently lives in England’s southeast with her husband, Kelly, and her Westhighland terrier, Keroberous (“Kero”).

 

Fox Family Traditions: One Year At a Time

Matt and I are still trying to find our footing in this holiday, especially considering how many we have to work around this time of year.

One thing we’ve been doing for the past few years is getting stockings prepared for opening at Yule, and a pair of PJ pants to keep us warm as the weather continues to cool off. I’ve put together the stockings each of these years, basically forcing us to do something for Yule (as we have or have had traditions for Christmas and Chanukah, but nothing for the Solstice). This time around, though, we’re making them for each other! I’m really excited about that, as it’ll add an element of surprise to this Yule celebration.

I’m so happy Matt is getting into this tradition, too, and between that, Chanukah candle lighting, and our Jewish-Pagan Christmas (Chinese and a movie, yo!), we’re hoping that we can make the winter holiday season just as amazing for our kids as it has been for us.

We’re taking it one year at a time. The nice thing about having our own little family is starting these new traditions, and finding out what works, what doesn’t, and what we can’t live without.

Again, I want to thank everyone for sharing their holiday celebrations! It makes me look that much more forward to giving Kit everything he deserves when it comes to making the Solstice magickal. :)

A very happy holiday season, indeed!

It has been quite an eventful week! Matt and I had a good chunk of time off this past weekend (I had a four-day, he had a three-’n'-half-day), which was spent frolicking around Maryland and generally having a great time.

I got to meet another internet friend this past Thursday! Bethany (Beatnik Betty) and I have been LiveJournal friends for ages. Seriously, I don’t even remember when we became friends — it had to have been at least four years ago. She lived in DC before Matt and I moved up, but she ended up moving to Portland a few months before we got up here, so we never had the chance to meet! Recently, she came back to DC to pursue a new job opportunity in Baltimore (which she greatly deserves and where she is thoroughly kicking ass), and we finally met one another!

Jane, Bethany, me, and Ilya… my first time meeting all of them!

It was a really fun night, and I’m looking forward to hanging with her again. :)

(Ilya is from the internet, too! Looks like I’ll have to count up just how many people I’ve met and see if I managed to nix off #23!)

It’s such a bizarre feeling, knowing so much about someone strictly because of the internet and finally getting to greet that person face to face. If you’ve never done that before, it’s akin to having a best (albeit imaginary) friend that you’ve never hugged before, only to finally get to and know that this person is real. Such a cool experience, especially when that friend is as cool as Bethany.

Friday was spent cleaning the house in preparation for our realtor’s wife (who is a mortgage loan officer — meant to be, am I right?), who came over to get our signatures for a refinance on our home. We only bought the house in February, but with the refi, we managed to cut our interest rate by 0.65%, which was fantastic! While things are financially tight around here for a little bit as a result, it’s going to help us out so much in the long run. And we love working with Mike DeHaut and his wife, so that was an added bonus.

Saturday, Christmas Eve, was pretty quiet. We had been lighting the candles all through Chanukah, and after doing so that night, we settled in for a tradition that started with my family and that I force Matt to continue at home: Watching Christmas Vacation by the light of our Yule tree and laughing maniacally to the whole Jelly Club rant! I swear, that movie never gets old. Matt immediately followed it up with The Hebrew Hammer, which I predict is going to be a new tradition in our house, haha.

When, you know, the future kiddies go to bed.

I’m pretty sure we’re not gonna let them watch that movie until they’re at least sixteen.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

And finally, Christmas Day! We planned on having a pretty relaxing day, but it seriously kicked off running, starting with a get-together at a Chinese restaurant in Rockville with a friend of Matt’s and his wife. Oh, yes. We got your Jewish Christmas right here! We filled up on more MSG than we probably should have stomached and chatted a bit about their baby boy, who is due anytime next month!

We started feeling exhausted on our drive home, but somehow managed to get the energy to drop off gingerbread cookies to the neighbors we’ve met since we lived here. We were able to personally wish a happy holiday to three of the four homes we visited, and they all invited us in, even for a short time, to chat a bit and, in the case of two families, meet their relatives.

The last house we visited was a family who I admit is my favorite on the block. They have two adorable little girls, aged six and almost three, and their parents, John and Megan, are just all-around kickass. When we dropped off their cookies, Megan asked us what we were doing for the holidays, and we said something about probably just going back home and having a quiet evening. There was NO HAVING THAT, of course, so she invited us in for drinks and to meet their crazy relatives! As they gave us full glasses of red wine, Megan announced to everyone, “These are our neighbors, Matt and Steph. They’re all alone for Christmas!

And it just kind of went from there, lol.

It was a wonderful time! Sure, there was the fact that John, and pretty much everyone else, was three sheets to the wind, but after meeting his father-in-law (who referred to Barack Obama’s daughters as “the little bitches” and complained about wasting government funds even after learning that my husband works for the most poorly-funded faction of the federal government…), I totally understood why. We were poured a second glass of wine by John as his father-in-law told us WWI stories and used at least one racial slur or wisecrack about government money every other line.

I was pretty impressed that he didn’t say anything about Matt being Jewish (and I quietly kept my Paganism under wraps), but we learned that he had a Jewish friend who passed away earlier this year, so I guess he didn’t have anything to say about Jews then and there.

Oh! Speaking of religion, John asked me at some point (away from his father-in-law, ha) if I was Pagan! I was like, uh…? A few weeks ago, I was wearing a shirt I had bought in Salem with the wheel of the year on it, and he recognized it! Apparently, he was a Pagan while growing up, and though he doesn’t celebrate the Sabbats too much anymore, he still regards himself a Pagan, and we had a good ol’ time talking about converting as teenagers and the ridiculous things we did back then.

“Ha! Did you cast a circle and everything?”
“TOTALLY. And I did spells pretty regularly until I was about 18!”
“Dude, we were so young and ridiculous back then…!”

Shirt looks a lot like this, actually.

All in all, it was a great weekend! We have some plans coming up for the new year — spending some time with my cousin and his family in Bethesda — and we’re looking forward to 2012 and the many plans we have ahead of us. :)

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and have a very happy New Year coming up!

Oh yeah, and as for Chanukah? We actually made it through all eight nights! Thank you, iPhone, for capturing this moment. Proof that it did, in fact, happen. ;)

*****

ETA before this post posts automatically: Oh my god, and today! TODAY! Awesome attorney-boss and I often talk about random stuff, one of which is scuba diving. I don’t remember if this came up before or after showing him my 30 Before 30 list, but we had long talks about his scuba diving escapades and his love of sharks. Seriously, sharks! The kind of stuff that would make Matt’s skin crawl, lol.

Anyway, for the holidays, awesome attorney-boss kept talking about an inspirational gift. I was thoroughly confused until, after being told where it was, I received this:

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

Seriously, cue the spazz-attack I had! Under wraps, of course, because I’m at work and all, but still! Scuba diving is on my List, and to have this kind of, well… inspiration is just…! Just!! I’m still kind of coming down from the high of checking out these pictures and these beautiful places to someday hopefully visit!

(I don’t think there was a single non-exclamation-pointed sentence just then. If that gives you ANY INDICATION of my excitement. :D )

After thanking him for the book, he said, “Now go get certified.” You don’t have to tell me twice! I’ve been researching some local dive instruction places ever since. (Though I honestly may wait until a trip to visit family in Florida to do this. Maybe even in the Keys? Yes, please, as I’ve never been!)

Matt’s reaction, by the way, when I told him about the book and my subsequent spazzing? “Hah, cool! Now if only I wasn’t scared shitless of a) sharks, and b) deep water.” Well… at least I can still dive, right? ;)

Happy Everything from the Fox family!

Wishing you and your families a happy Chanukah,
a merry Christmas,
a blessed Yule,
and whatever else you may celebrate this winter season.

Oh, and a very happy New Year! ;)

The Science of the Solstice

via Washington Post

These shorter periods of sunlight during the winter are something to get used to for this Florida girl; having lived near the equator my whole life, to be in an area where the tilt in the earth’s axis is so stark comparatively has been a real adjustment. I know I’m looking forward to sunlight’s return, which makes Yule one of my favorite holidays!

Last night at 12:30am marked the peak of the winter solstice,the longest night of the year. It’s all uphill from here, and the sun will continue to climb higher in the sky until the summer solstice six months from now. But what makes these times so significant, scientifically-speaking?

The solstice, as the first day of astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is shining directly overhead at 23.5 degrees south latitude, making it the furthest it will get from the North pole and the sun take its lowest and shortest path across the northern sky. If you’ve been observing sunrises and sunsets these past six months, you’ll notice that they’ve each been drifting lower and lower towards the skyline, and if you’re really paying attention, the sun rose at 120 degrees and set at 240 degrees, both the southernmost points along the horizon from due north.

In the MD/DC area, where Matt and I live, the sun rose yesterday morning at 7:23am and set at 4:49 yesterday evening while reaching its minimum height of 27.7 degrees above the horizon. Today? It’ll be less than a minute better on either end (7:24am and 4:50pm, respectively), but at least it’s getting better!

via Washington Post

The funny thing, though, is that those were not the earliest sunset or latest sunrise of the year. These were instead between 2 and 13 December (sunset was at 4:46pm) and won’t happen until 31 December through 10 January (sunrise will be at 7:27am). Why are these so different from the actual solstice itself?

There are actually two forces that determine this. The first is the change in the sun’s declination, or its height above the horizon throughout the year. The second is solar noon, which is when the sun reaches its maximum height in the sky on a given day, slowly oscillates back and forth by several minutes throughout the year, so a sundial wouldn’t consistently show noon occurring at the same time every day. These shifts are attributed to the earth’s elliptical orbit and axial tilt; these tend to wobble rather than follow a strict circular pattern, and can be easily called the “solar noon effect”.

As explained by Washington Post’s Justin Grieser:

The reason the earliest sunset occurs before the winter solstice has to do with the later shift in solar noon “outweighing” the effect of the sun’s decreasing height and length of time above the horizon. For example, in D.C. solar noon is at 11:57 a.m. on December 1, but drifts 14 minutes later – to 12:11 p.m. – by December 31. This forward shift means that it takes a few seconds more than 24 hours for the sun to complete a full circle between its maximum noontime height from one day to the next. Meanwhile, as we approach the solstice, the sun’s declination is no longer changing as rapidly, which causes the days to shorten at a slower pace.

In late November, the effect of a later-shifting solar noon begins to counteract the effect that the sun’s lowering declination has on pushing sunset earlier. Eventually, sunset reaches a minimum during the first week of December. While we would expect the earliest sunset to occur closer to the winter solstice, the rapid forward shift in solar noon causes sunset to creep later more than a week before then.

So the reason why the sun keeps rising later after the winter solstice? Like above, solar noon’s time still moves later for several more weeks, and only by mid-January does the sun’s increasing height over the horizon “accelerate” enough to bring earlier sunrises, even as solar noon continues moving later until early February. Which explains why January morning commutes are still in the darkness while December evening commutes are already growing lighter.

Because of these phenomena, meteorologists and climatologists actually define winter as 1 December through the last day of February, despite “official” winter beginning on the solstice (this year, on 22 December) and lasting until the spring equinox (around 21 March).

via Washington Post

I’ve always wondered why the days grew colder as winter pressed on, even despite the fact that the sun is making its slow and steady return to the Northern Hemisphere. (This year has been rather strange, as the average temperatures this year have been a bit warmer than of record, but still.) The coldest part of the year actually lags about a month behind the solstice, and the same with the hottest in the summer. Simply speaking, assuming the air stays in a particular place, the air in such a place would act kind of like a bank account. If you add heat, it warms up, and since the Earth is always losing heat, that bank account of air is losing it, too. If the amount of heat arriving from the sun is equal to the amount leaving, the temperature stays the same.

Even as the days grow shorter, the amount of heat arriving (because of the period beforehand when the air grows warmer and warmer) is more than the amount leaving until a point in late summer or the fall, depending on your location north of the equator, when it’s pretty much in balance. After that point, the “withdrawals” from the heat account grow greater and are greatest in December. Even after the days are growing longer, there is more heat leaving than arriving, and the offset means the air is still growing cooler. This balance doesn’t start to shift in the opposite direction until late winter or even spring, again depending on your location.

Some pretty cool stuff! I hope you all enjoyed your longest night last night, and now you know why it is! Solstice blessings today, a very happy Yule, and here’s to chillier weather!

Holiday Celebrations! And… I’m sick, duh.

It’s seriously the worst time of year to be sick, but here I am, nursing a box of tissues while swallowing pill after pill of Comtrex and trying to bolster my immune system with Emergen-C. There are just too many things going on, holiday-wise, to be sick! Since I don’t really have a huge update or anything, I thought I’d give y’all a glimpse into our celebrations this winter, and I hope I can make it through all of these!

Chanukah dinner: Usually held by someone in Matt’s family. This year, it’s his cousin and his family! It’s a bit earlier than usual (Chanukah starts sundown on the 20th) as we’re going over today, but it’s still a nice tradition.

Yule ritual: I’m going to my first one in aaaaages, and I can’t wait! It’s going to be held by a local Pagan group this year, and I’m really looking forward to going. It’s not on Yule itself (that’s the 21st, and the ritual is on Sunday), but I’m still excited for the sun’s return and what I’m sure is going to be a very moving ritual with tons of fun afterward. Though I’ll probably leave when it ends at 7pm, ha.

Chanukah: I always anticipate celebrating at our house. We received a gorgeous menorah from Matt’s Nana a few years ago, and we’ve used it ever since for the candle lighting and blessings. I don’t think we’ve gotten past the fourth or fifth day; Matt usually peters out around that point. ;) But we at least get the first day in, with Matt saying the prayers in Hebrew and trading off lighting the candles.

Yule: We don’t really have traditions for this yet; I’ve been solitary for so long and have kept my practices to myself that it’s hard to incorporate anyone else. But I think we may light a candle (aside from the menorah! LOL) and exchange gifts. One of which will, of course, be pajamas. We did that last year, and it was actually a nice thing to do! This is actually my second favorite Sabbat after Samhain, so I’m hoping we can really ramp this one up in years to come.

Festivus: Will we do something for that this year? I honestly don’t know. But if I’m feeling well enough, I do plan to wrestle the head of the household… or the guy who thinks he is… muahaha.

Christmas Eve: This one’s actually a tradition that I took away from home. Every Christmas Eve, my family would watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We’d also go to midnight Mass, but Matt and I obviously don’t do that anymore. ;) We’d open one present before going to bed (wonder where I got the pajamas-for-Yule tradition? Well, there ya go), then conk out until…

Christmas Day: Well, Matt and I don’t do Christmas. Not the “Christ is risen BORN (DUH) let’s open presents!” kind of Christmas, but a Jewish Christmas: Chinese food and a movie. Whoop! We started doing this a few years ago, and I have to say, if I’m not at home with our families… this is easily the next best thing, haha.

So that’s what we have planned! I’m really looking forward to sharing these individual days with y’all.

And now, more Comtrex…