The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Holiday Traditions

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With Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa just around the corner, we’ve been thinking about the holiday traditions we hold dear. What holiday traditions do you and yours keep?

Chloe Curran: My dad and I traditionally drink vodka on the rocks while bickering about who is more emotionally unavailable until one of us storms off, sulks for an hour, comes back and pretends nothing happened. Then we get stoned and make carbonara (dad makes the best carbonara and, trust me, I HAVE EATEN A LOT OF CARBONARA) and discuss current events in the Middle East vis a vis what’s been just published in The Economist, dad’s version of Us Weekly.

As soon as I get off the plane below the Mason-Dixon line my mother traditionally hugs me, then inspects my face for blemishes, points them out and says “I have something for that.” Then we get home eat cheese and smoke Marlboro Ultra Lights while assigning human traits to the feral cat colony that lives behind her home, lovingly dubbed “the party animals.”
 
On Christmas morning my sister wakes me up at 5am even though we’re in our late 20s and we go wake up my mom (dad and mom are never in same room so we call him later with forced cheer) and open presents. Then we make an insanely big breakfast and watch Christmas movies. 
 
My fave holiday tradition food is eggnog French toast which IS THE BEST THING EVER AND SO EASY. Basically you soak bread in eggnog with an egg or two cracked in for a couple minutes and fry up. It’s delicious and I can eat like a loaf. 
 
Yay for the holiday season!
 
French toast
 
Emily McGaughy: Until I met my wife five years ago, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the holidays.  I got caught up in the stress and would’ve preferred to take a long winter’s nap—right up until January 2nd.  Since we’ve been together, I actually look forward to this time of year as we have created some traditions of our own that are special to me.  In lieu of purchasing big Christmas gifts for one another, we typically adopt a child in need from a local organization (other than the homophobic Salvation Army of course) and spend a day shopping together for her/him. We get each other small stocking stuffers separately. Then on Christmas Eve, we have a McGaughy Christmasjust she and I. I cook her favorite meal (same one every year), dress our dogs up in ridiculous Christmas pajamas, and we open our stockings.  Christmas day is quite busy for us as we attempt to visit as much family as possible, so Christmas Eve is a nice way for us to check in with each other and spend quality time just the two of us before the bustle of December 25th.  I feel like one of those couples with this barf-worthy story, but this time of year brings out my sentimental side.  
 
Elaine Atwell: For most of my life, I have been a rabid, unyielding adherent to my family’s Christmas traditions.  My mother MUST make coconut creme pies, my oldest sister HAS TO bake macaroni and cheese, and THE WORLD WILL FUCKING IMPLODE if I do not place the angel on top of the tree. The traditions have always given me a sense of continuity and security even when everything else was changing.
 
But my parents split up this year and I didn’t want to choose who to spend Christmas with, so for the first time ever I am Yuletiding at home with my dog and my girlfriend. It’s weird suddenly having to compromise about things I’ve always taken for granted; I soundly rejected her request for a black-and-white color scheme, but I did take down the garlands when she called them “weird Mardi Gras beads.”  On the other hand, I also managed to pick out a beautiful Christmas tree and get it in its stand without saying “goddammit” once, thus refuting my dad’s long-held claim that cursing is a necessary element of tree preparation. I even got my own angel at a thrift store.  Her wings are dingy and she is wearing blue eyeshadow, so she resembles a very old prostitute. I could stand making her my new tradition.
 
angel
 
Tara Aquino: My family, which consists of over 40 people all within a five mile radius of each other, gets drunk at one of our houses on Christmas Eve, which then lasts ’til early morning Christmas day. Then we go home, sleep, open the presents we exchanged at the party, and then reconvene at another house to drink some more.
 
Sarah Terez Strosenblum: This is my family’s first year without my dad, so all of our traditions are kind of out the window. A lot of ideas were thrown around including a mass suicide pact. We finally decided to take a trip because, as my mother put it, our alternative was to “sit around the living room with paper bags over our heads.” No one’s really sure how this will go, but at least there will be room service, I guess. 
 
Bridget McManus: My family gathers together for a cookie decorating party on Christmas Eve. We make cookies for Santa while blasting holiday music. On Christmas day we gorge ourselves on traditional Italian food; manicotti and cannolis for everyone!
 
cookies
 
Grace Chu: I go to a restaurant with whatever Christmas orphans are around. It is usually Chinese food.
 
Chelsea Steiner: My fam and I celebrate Christmas in classic Jewish fashion: Chinese food and a day at the movies. Picking the movies happens around Thanksgiving. This year we’ve got Big Eyes and Unbroken on the docket. 
 
Chinese Food
 
Kim Hoffman: It’s been a couple of years since I was “home for the holidays” because I live all the way out in the Pacific Northwest and my parents live across the country in Florida. As a 29-year-old who grew up in Florida for the better half of my life, I just don’t go back as often anymore because I’m a woman on the verge of her 30s and hometowns are apparent triggers for WEIRD feelings. Beyond that, I was raised in two religions: My dad is a Jew, and my mom is a converted Jew/former Catholic. The merging of those traditions as a kid were really fun, especially learning about the history of Judaism while we lit candles, sang songs, and ate latkes. I haven’t been involved in celebrating Hannukah for several years now, but this year my parents sent us one of their old menorahs so I’m all, “Let’s do this.” Every year I make my mom’s kolachky cookies (czech tradition going way back) which are doughy and great and filled with jams and such, and I’ve heard baking helps reduce winter blues, so yeah, toss some flour on the counter, I’m baking everything in sight. For the second year, we chopped down our own Christmas tree. Another requirement for the holidays is to watch as many important/not important/ridiculous/cheesy holiday movies as we can. A local movie theater is now playing ‘Home Alone.’ Are you kidding? Doesn’t get any better than that. If I were with my parents, my dad would be getting a lot of new clothes (he has more than my mom and I combined, for some reason) and my mom would be making ham with pineapples on it. The only thing I wish I’d done this year was make it to the Kitty Christmas Bazaar. Apparently there are some real holiday gems there—like our cat Squirt’s stocking. It looks like the inside of someone’s wig put on lipstick and eyelashes and went out on the town. Seriously, I don’t know how else to describe it.
 
Dana Piccoli: I don’t really give a figgy pudding about Christmas Dayit’s Christmas Eve that I love. Stockings are always opened on Christmas Eve, and each year my wife and I get each other a new pair of pajamas. We drink martinis or other cocktails (this year it’ll be Moscow Mules because we have the copper cups), listen to Whitney Houston‘s Christmas album, and have cookies and other fun snacks. Christmas Day, I usually make a big breakfast with homemade cinnamon rolls.
 
stocking
 
Lucy Hallowell: One of the funniest things about getting married is realizing that not every family is just like yours. This applies double at Christmas. My wife comes from a Catholic family so they take the whole Jesus part of Christmas a little more seriously than I do as a flaming heathen. On Christmas day they eat these giant wafer things that look like communion wafers on steroids that have been like blessed by a priest or something. It freaked me out the first year, now my wife just eats that sucker for me.
 
So she introduced me to wafers  and Christmas Vacation and I introduced her to the heaven that is Yorkshire pudding and eating a coffee cake known as “The Baby J” for its resemblance to a baby in swaddling clothes (see? total heathen) and now we have picked a few of our own traditions since we have kids now. Christmas Day is half a day of celebrating Kid A’s birthday (lesbian giving birth to a baby on Christmas has to be proof that god loves the homos, right?) and half a day of actual Christmas stuff. All the change was jarring at first but also freeing to know that we can pick the traditions we like and ditch the ones we don’t. 
 
Trish Bendix: In the past few years, I’ve become an official Crazy Pug Lady when it comes to Christmas. I have seven pug ornaments on my tree right now (I know, it’s a problem), and have to buy at least one new dog decoration every holiday. I have them in all different outfits, makes and sizes, from the cheap to way-too-much to pay for an ornament. My own pug loves nothing more than to sit under the tree like a weirdo, so it’s part of my perfect Christmas tradition. 
 
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Valerie Anne: Before my cousin and I were out, we used to play a secret drinking game. Drink every time someone says something hetero-normative to you (asking me if I had a boyfriend, telling him to check out some girl) so that was fun. But now we’re both out so Christmas is back to being about spending time with whatever family members can make it that year. There’s always a ton of food and booze. Usually a game is played, often Scattergories, and it almost always ends in tears of laughter. We also have a weird tradition where we each get a bag of “stocking stuffers” which are basically the most ridiculous useless fun gifts. Everyone anonymously contributes some, and the object is quantity over quality. I always end up with more chapstick than any one person would need in a lifetime, even as a lesbian. 
 
What is your holiday tradition?

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