Brief: Christmas Traditions

I’m spending this Christmas in the Philippines with my girlfriend and her family. Traditions for these couple of days tend to be fairly similar for those who celebrate, but the differences are what make us who we are.

On Christmas Eve, it is her family’s tradition to go to her grandmother’s house for dinner, sing Christmas carols, and open presents. This year, the routine is slightly modified to accommodate a Secret Santa gift-giving circle that her brother devised for the younger generation, but as a whole it will remain the same. Christmas Day, we’ll be going to mass, having a big breakfast at a restaurant, and coming back to the house to avoid Manila’s infamous traffic and to watch movies.

My family’s tradition has changed quite a bit over the years. It used to be that we would have my grandmother and maybe one or two close friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve, and then there would be drinks for the adults afterward. Over the years, more and more friends found their way to our house until about ten years ago. At that point, my parents couldn’t do dinner for all those people, and just made Christmas Eve a night of drinks and finger foods, including fresh tamales, which they would pick up from various Mexican grocers. At the end of the night, when everyone had gone home, we would put on The Big Lebowski and have one last drink for the night–just the three of us. Now that this thing tends to run later, and my visits home have become rarer, the movie portion has gone away. The night has also changed to the weekend before, so that people don’t have to go visit relatives hungover the next day. Christmas Day has always seen us opening presents while snacking on a small breakfast, and then making our way to my grandmother’s house for a late lunch, which stretches well into dinner time.

Whatever your tradition, if you celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!

See you tomorrow for the final day of the blogging challenge!


I’m going to leave you, tonight, with a recipe my friend Art shard with me some time ago. It’s Christmassy as hell.

Charles Dickens Punch

  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups dark rum (Gosling’s or any other black rum works great)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 4 cups very hot water (not quite boiling)

His instructions:

In a 4-quart saucepan combine the sugar, rum, and the brandy. Warm over low heat. Be sure there’s no exhaust fan running. Light the liquid [on fire, not with a lamp]. When the flames have gone out, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the water. Stir. Cover completely and cook for just a few minutes. Serve warm or over ice.

An addendum:

You don’t really have to light the booze on fire if you don’t want to. It’s dangerous and requires careful attention, since alcohol flames can be hard to see in a well lit room. Not using fire, however, will increase the alcohol content of the punch. Regardless, be very careful. This is strong drink and not for the novice drinker.

A second addendum:

If you like, especially if you didn’t choose to play around with fire, you can mix this concoction with hot, spiced apple cider for a pleasant and less alcoholic holiday quaff. It still may knock you on your ass, though. Just so you know.


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