17 December 2009

Virtual Advent Tour: 2009

For my entry in the 2009 Virtual Advent Tour, I'm going to tell you about my family's Christmas Eve tradition. This is a short story, but I bet it's a bit different from what you're used to hearing.

Both sets of my grandparents owned retail stores and both worked long hours during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The stores would stay open on Christmas Eve until 6:00 P.M., and my grandparents would be exhausted from working the season.

So our tradition was to go out to dinner. As you can imagine, there would not be many choices that night. Thus we always went to a Chinese restaurant; they were open because Christmas, of course, wasn't their holiday. It wasn't our holiday either.

Once at our favorite restaurant, I remember that both my grandmothers would order a drink—usually something mixed like a whiskey sour. This has stayed in my memory because my grandmothers never drank anything but a little wine on a festive occasion. But on Christmas Eve, they'd drink a cocktail!

On Christmas Day, we would meet at my maternal grandparents' house and have a huge family brunch.

So there you have my family's Christmas tradition.

22 comments:

Nise' 12/17/09, 7:35 AM  

My Grandmother was in the restaurant business and Christmas was one of the few days she would cook a wonderful meal.

My husband's family was in retail for over 70 years (21 years of our marriage) so aI can relate to the long working hours.

Nan 12/17/09, 9:01 AM  

Wasn't it a Chinese restaurant the family went to in A Christmas Story because it was the only one open? :<) Thanks for sharing your great memories.

bermudaonion 12/17/09, 10:39 AM  

I was thinking the same thing as Nan - your story reminded me of A Christmas Story.

Margot at Joyfully Retired 12/17/09, 11:28 AM  

What a sweet memory of your grandmothers to carry with you.

kaye 12/17/09, 11:36 AM  

I think this is a wonderful Christmas tradition--celebrating the end of a busy work season. Have a happy holiday!

Literary Feline 12/17/09, 12:12 PM  

Working retail during the holidays would definitely be exhausting. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. :-)

My husband's family always goes out to eat Christmas Eve. I don't think they drink cocktails though. :-)

Michelle 12/17/09, 12:15 PM  

This sounds like a fabulous holiday tradition. I always find it amazing that so many of our traditions end up revolving around food!

Jenn 12/17/09, 12:23 PM  

My family celebrates Christmas, but we always go see a movie in the theater. We always get the best seats and it's fun doing stuff as a family.

Aarti 12/17/09, 12:29 PM  

I think Chinese food is good on any occasion. What a nice, low-stress day (I hope, anyway, after a really stressful week of being open late).

sprite 12/17/09, 12:38 PM  

I'd imagine retailers experience Christmas in a slightly different way than everyone else. Thanks for sharing that perspective.

carolsnotebook 12/17/09, 12:53 PM  

What a nice memory.

We don't really have any Christmas Eve traditions, except for going to the late service.

Jenners 12/17/09, 7:21 PM  

This so reminds me of "A Christmas Story." : )

kiirstin 12/17/09, 9:56 PM  

I can well imagine their relief when 6pm Christmas Eve rolled around! Such a great memory to share.

Josette 12/18/09, 4:39 AM  

That's a nice Christmas tradition, one to remember for a long long time! :)

My family's Christmas Eve tradition is usually preparing for the next day and getting ready for the night mass. My dad would always remind us to get ready in time!

Julie P. 12/18/09, 8:58 AM  

That's sweet. Isn't it funny what stands out to us? Thanks for sharing.

Amused 12/18/09, 1:25 PM  

That was a great story! My boyfriend, when I recently asked him what he wanted for Christmas dinner, said he wanted to order Chinese food since that's what he and his mom used to do because it was always the only place open. We're making dinner this year. Happy holidays!

The Bumbles 12/18/09, 1:38 PM  

Yes - totally "A Christmas Story" moment - "Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra"

We went out for Chinese on X-Mas Eve one year. We are a very small immediate family living far away from the large extended family. X-Mas Eve was never much of a fuss for us. Usually just grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

sanjeet 12/18/09, 3:08 PM  

- your story reminded me of A Christmas Story.

Work from home India

readerbuzz 12/18/09, 4:48 PM  

Nice little story. Fascinating to see that everyone has such different traditions.

Dorte H 12/18/09, 4:51 PM  

Thank you for sharing this story. It would not be possible in Denmark where our main celebration is Christmas Eve, but my parents also owned a flower shop for a short time when I was around nine years old. I don´t remember myself, but my elder sister has told me later that my mother could hardly keep awake after nine o´clock that year.

Julia Smith 12/18/09, 10:22 PM  

Like most everyone else, A Christmas Story's final scene in the Chinese restaurant is what I'm now thinking about. Great story. My family worked retail for many, many Christmas Eve's. My favorite story is my mom having to chase away the last-minute husbands who hadn't got to the store on time, and how she took pity on a few of them.

Susan 12/20/09, 10:45 PM  

I worked retail for 15 years! Often we would stay open until 5 or 6 pm, depending on how busy it was with those last minute gifters. I remember going home and falling asleep (this is when I lived alone). Once I had my son, then I still had to wrap presents and stocking stuffers.....but my Christmas began the minute I was out those doors at 6 pm on Christmas Eve! In my childhood, we never celebrated anything special on Christmas Eve that I can recall. It was all saved for Christmas day and the whole day had a tradition to it! thanks for your post, I enjoyed it. Not everyone celebrates these holidays even though it pervades everyone's lives.

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