So – Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, not gonna lie. When I was a kid it was because of the presents, because I’m a very materialistic person. The family tradition was always – always the same. Christmas Eve what would happen is we’d go over to my grandmother’s house on my mother’s side. And meet with her family have have a very nice dinner. And then just open presents! And that was always the most fun because I have two aunts who always went all out and bought very expensive things, and my brothers and I were just thrilled. But then the better part and more heartwarming part always came the next morning because what would happen is my brothers and I would wake up at 6 am and to this day whenever I’m home I’m very adamant about us getting up at 6 am, even when my brothers go “Ahh I didn’t get enough sleep last night!” I’m like, “No, it’s happening.” We’d get up at 6 am, say “Hey mom and dad we’re up,” and while my brothers and I wait upstairs in our bedroom, my dad would go downstairs, turn on the Christmas tree lights, turn on Christmas music, just create a perfect holiday atmosphere. Then he’d turn on the camera and say “Ok boys, you can come on down,” and all of the videos we have of Christmas start out the same way – it’s our reaction shot of walking down the stairs and seeing the Christmas tree, and the presents underneath.
What else constitutes the ‘holiday atmosphere”?
I mean some – he usually wore a Santa hat, let’s see – I mean what comes to mind is just the Christmas tree, in that we have a – the theme of our Christmas tree is always the same, it’s toy based. So we have all sorts of toys hanging around the tree. There was a very specific – if you remember the dog Spot when you were really little –
See Spot Run.
Yeah, exactly. He was a little plush figure we’d put on the tree, and my brother Kevin was always just the biggest fan of Spot. And would sometimes just take him off the tree and hug him and cuddle with him, which was adorable. Besides that though, the breakfast afterwards was always delicious. French toast soaked in egg nog – perfect holiday breakfast. And then later that evening we’d go to my aunt’s house on my dad’s side. It was very nice – it was kind of the most formal part of the day because we had to be – my aunt is slightly strict, so we had to be very prim and proper. But it was still nice, we got to hang out with my aunt and my grandma, and we just got to share stories, what sort of presents we got – though they usually weren’t happy if they were related to video games in any way. Because we needed to be active and so on. That was pretty much the holiday.
Do you still partake in the holiday in this particular fashion?
Absolutely I do. I mean things have changed, Christmas Eve we used to go –
My brother’s kind of indifferent these days to Spot. But my grandma moved out of her old house so now we have Christmas at my house, which is very nice because there’ a lot less driving involved on Christmas eve. And then we kind of had a falling out with my aunt on my dad’s side, so now we just have a nice Christmas dinner at home alone. But that general scenario comes to mind.
You said the area you come from is a pretty Jewish area. Have you ever invited Jewish friends to come and celebrate with you?
No, unfortunately not. My parents were always pretty adamant that especially around the holidays it’s family time, so even recently my parents – well, this is more New Years, where there’ “Come on guys, let’s stay home and do family things” and I’m like “we have friends now, who drink and are fun.” So that’s – yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.”
So it’s pretty family-centric. Are there any community-wide things you would do? Or is it JUST family.
Pretty much just family.
Is that – does any of this – come from stuff that your parents did before?
A little bit, I mean yeah. On my mom’s side they would always celebrate Christmas the night before. Because they had a Catholic mass that day. That evening. And then I guess they’d come home early in the morning and open presents then. As for my dad, yeah – it was pretty much the exact scenario that my brothers and I experienced, where they’d get – they’d have their dad set everything up, create that atmosphere and all of them would come outside, open presents, and it was fun. But imagine it more 50’s style.
Very very family-oriented and generationally defined – see the tradition being essentially the same as that of the informants parents (mashed together) and just being passed onward.