Tag Archives: christmas

A Friend’s Christmas Day

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I thought some of you might like to see my friend’s Christmas Day. She lives in the southern part of the central US. On Christmas Day, there were four generations of her family in one house!

Here’s Christmas morning. They have a very tall tree (it’s taller than mine or my parents’). However, many Americans have trees that are about 6 feet/2 meters tall. One reason is because there are a lot of gifts to put under the tree.

Some families only give one gift to each person. In my family and my husband’s family, everyone gives more than one gift to each other. (I don’t know about my friend’s family.) So when I was old enough (maybe 10 or so?), I gave presents to my parents, too. They also gave presents to each other. This year, I gave presents to my mom, my dad, my husband, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law. (I also gave or mailed presents to several friends.)

Anyway, here’s the gift unwrapping at my friend’s house.

Some gifts are practical things that people have been wanting but can’t or won’t buy. (For example, my parents gave me a nice pair of jeans, a pair of trail shoes for hiking, and an extra iPod Touch cable.) Some gifts are educational or to help the person in their job. (For example, my husband gave me a book on English linguistics. Last year, my in-laws gave my husband a book about math teaching.) And of course, other gifts are just fun or nice. (For example, my parents gave my husband a Doctor Who DVD box set and a video game.)

I really appreciate my friend letting me share these photos with you. :) Thanks, Q!

My Holiday

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m in Arkansas visiting my parents for Christmas. Today is Christmas Eve. During the last day or two, we’ve been shopping and so on.

Mall Santa
Santa Claus is in the middle of this photo, but he’s hard to see! On the right, people are lined up. They want their kids to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him their Christmas wishes. (I usually had no idea what to say.) On the left, a woman is taking photos. You have to pay money for them… Anyway, this is in the local mall. We bought some last-minute gifts there.

Inside the restaurant
Later, we went to a restaurant. It’s very old-fashioned inside. You can see lots of old-style farm and household tools inside.

This country restaurant only serves one meal: All-you-can-eat chicken dinner. You get fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy (a kind of sauce for the potatoes), corn, green beans, slaw (cabbage, mayo, etc. salad), and a tiny loaf of hot bread with apple butter (spiced apple jam — there’s no butter in it!). If you want more of something, you can just ask. This meal is not part of our holiday tradition, but it’s a nice place to go with my family when I visit. Today, we had Thai food at lunch and beans with cornbread for dinner. For Christmas Day this year, we’ll go out to a buffet. (Most restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the US, but a few are open.)

Christmas Tree Cat
This is one of my parents’ cats, Gimli. He’s sitting under their Christmas tree. Gimli usually acts very seriously, but he loves their Christmas tree and spends a lot of time playing with it and sleeping under it. (I took this picture last year, but it’s the same this year!)

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re having a good one!

(Sorry, I’ll post the final contest winner later!)

Christmas traditions

Christmas is a huge holiday in the United States. For many people, it’s the most important holiday of the year. (It’s much more important than Thanksgiving for most people who celebrate both.)


However, not everyone celebrates Christmas. For many people, Christmas is a Christian religious holiday. People from other religions often have other winter holidays that they celebrate in November and December, including Yule, Diwali, Hanukkah, etc. Some people celebrate more than one holiday. Other people don’t celebrate any holidays. Some people celebrate in a non-religious way–many people follow Christmas traditions (Christmas trees, presents, etc.) but don’t consider themselves Christians. Because the United States is ethnically and religiously diverse, most people have friends, family, and co-workers who celebrate differently from themselves. That’s why many Americans who do celebrate Christmas feel it is more polite to sometimes say “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” If you don’t know what holiday someone celebrates, it’s more considerate to say “Happy holidays” instead of assuming that the person celebrates Christmas. For the same reason, a lot of Americans (including me) send holiday cards that say “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas,” or send different cards depending on the recipient.

There are regional differences in how Christmas is celebrated around the world. Different countries have very different traditions. In the USA, different areas sometimes have regional traditions based on where the local people’s ancestors come from. Different Christian groups also celebrate Christmas differently. Some groups, including Catholics, observe a four-week period called Advent, while most other Christian denominations don’t. Many Americans have backgrounds that include a variety of religions and ethnicities, so they may have a variety of different traditions. That’s true in my family. Our Christmas traditions include gelt, Christmas stockings, mistletoe, eggnog, Christmas crackers, holiday cards, and advent calendars. (You can look up all of these topics on Wikipedia, or just explore the many Christmas-related articles there.)

In countries where Christmas arrived more recently, such as Japan, other traditions have become popular. In Japan, it’s considered a good day for a romantic date, whereas in the USA it’s kept as a day for families and children. Fried chicken is popular for Christmas dinner in Japan, whereas Americans often prepare ham or beef at home, and British people often eat turkey, goose, or duck. Americans often have desserts such as pie or fruitcake (a spiced bread with dried fruit), while in Britain you can buy an iced fruitcake called a Christmas cake–but in Japan, a Christmas cake is a sponge cake that is beautifully iced and topped with fruit or Christmas decorations.

Anyway, I really enjoy Christmas because I like picking out presents for my friends and family, decorating the tree, seeing all of the lit-up houses in town, etc. This year, my husband and I flew to Arkansas to visit our families, so we’re doing lots of Christmas things with them. If we had stayed in California, we would have gone to our friend’s Yule party. What do you enjoy doing in December and January?

Whatever you do or don’t celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful month and a happy new year! Happy holidays!