No, we didn’t play “Pin the Tail on Rudolph” this morning at the Hammock headquarters overlooking West End Avenue — even though Ben really wanted to — just a simple game of Word Association. I decided it might be fun if I grabbed my Big Chief tablet and No. 2 pencil to make my way around the office for some fun with words. When I simply said “holiday tradition” to my fellow Hammoratians (or are we Hammockites?), this is what I heard in return:
Laura Creekmore: Baking. Just like every other holiday, Christmas is about food at my house. Last night, my daughter and I made cookies for her teachers. Before the year is out, we’ll have made more cookies, fudge, caramel and any number of other treats. We have a number of recipes we only make during the holidays — many of them a carryover from my own childhood — and it wouldn’t be Christmas without them!
Jamie Roberts: Watching “Christmas Vacation” or “A Christmas Story” together. Attending Christmas Eve services in my hometown. Being jumped awake by my niece and nephew on Christmas morning.
Bill Hudgins: For a number of years, we have been part of the local Rotary Club’s shopping for kids — about 120 kids plus Rotarians and spouses, Interact members (high school Rotary) and others invade Wal-Mart at 6 a.m. My wife, who is the Rotarian, takes photos and I wrap presents. Christmas Eve church service. Hanging icicle lights on the fence in front of our house. Fruitcake.
Lena Basha: My mom and I would ride around the night before Christmas and look at all of the lights, and when we’d see some, I would exclaim “Shine on! I saw it first!” I’m not sure what that meant. Still don’t. But I still say it!
Barbara Mathieson: John and I watch “Christmas Vacation” every year. It’s one movie that always cracks me up. We don’t do the gift-thing anymore. On Christmas Eve, we go out for a nice dinner. On Christmas Day, we have a midday meal with his parents.
Ben Stewart: On Christmas Eve, my father’s side of the family gets together to exchange gifts, joke around and play games. It’s the one time of the year where everyone is present for the party. Usually new-comers to the family get broken into the “craziness.”
Megan Goodchild: For the last 10 years I’ve lived 500 miles away from my family and have rarely made it back home for the holidays, so I’ve been adopted by my friends’ families around the holidays. For the last several years I’ve spent Christmas with my boyfriend’s family, who have always welcomed me as one of their own. They do it up right, too — lots of ham, turkey and adult beverages! Then after dinner we get together with friends and usually watch a movie or go bowling.
Patrick Ragsdale: Eating Christmas dinner at a gas station. We did this for over 10 years since we always drove back to Nashville from Indianapolis on Christmas day.
Lynne Boyer: Christmas Eve, one of the youngest in our family reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” for the family. We’ll see if my son, 6 years old, is up for the challenge this year. Christmas brunch with my family, of course followed a few hours later by Christmas dinner.
Lisa Ask: Golden Rod Eggs. My great-grandmother invented this brunch item. She was a great storyteller who lived during the depression. She made a cream sauce out of the egg whites and poured the whites over an English muffin. Then she’d crumble the egg yolks (the Golden Rod) over the top. She made this very inexpensive meal for Easter and Christmas, but told the family that it was food that royalty ate to make it more special. Golden Rod Eggs are still a staple at Christmas. Now, however, we have ham, tomatoes and other delicious fixin’s.
Rex Hammock: Each year, my family has breakfast on Christmas Eve at Nashville’s Pancake Pantry restaurant. This got started back when our children were very young and Christmas Eve meant lots of stressful last-minute errands and massive projects related to those three words parents of young children always dread: “Some assembly necessary.” We discovered it was good to attack the day fortified with a hearty breakfast. And the tradition was established. Somehow, our Christmas Eves have mellowed a bit (teenage recipients of gifts can assemble things themselves) as post-breakfast activities now usually include naps. (Bonus tradition: Blogging about Christmas Eve breakfast at the Pancake Pantry: 2004, 2006.
For me, it’s all about the pajamas. I participate in adopting a family every year and there is always good food. But for as long as I can remember — it’s got to be the longest-standing tradition for our family — my sweet Gran would give us a single present to unwrap on Christmas Eve. It was and is always pajamas. A couple of years ago, mine had monkeys on them. In the past they’ve been spotted like a leopard, plaid like Christmas wrapping paper, or solid blue in a shade she thought brought out the color of my eyes. No matter what the pajamas looked like, we all hit the tree Christmas morning dressed in our finest newest pajamas, ready for whatever the day would bring.
What about you? Are there movies, food or fuzzy slippers that the holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without?