Growing up, my family celebrated a pretty traditional Christmas – with little hints of our Ethiopian heritage coming through in some of the dishes we served, and in how we opened up our doors to include those from our community in the celebrations.
It always started with a Christmas tree. I remember when we started getting a real tree to celebrate with, and how it brought the smells from the outside in. I couldn’t wait to decorate it with our tacky Santa Claus lights and our sentimental ornaments. Every year, the tree still looks the same and it brings me back to my childhood every time.
Then there’s the turkey. In my family, I’ve made the turkey since I was practically a kid. I’ve always loved the whole Christmas assortment of gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes – you only really get those foods once or twice a year, so it’s always a nice treat. Then we make some delicious traditional Ethiopian food. Vegetarian dishes mostly. It ends up being quite a spread.
My family didn’t want anyone to be alone over the holidays, so they’d open up their doors to friends, co-workers, and friends-of-friends who had no where else to go. They believed in making their celebrations inclusive. This generosity is something I want to incorporate into my own traditions, when my partner and I start hosting Christmas dinner at our house.
For now, we split the celebrations between my family and his – sometimes on the same day.
Christmas Eve is also my father-in-law’s birthday. Every year, Chris and his family go to a movie to celebrate (last year, they went to see Star Wars). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to join them the last couple years because I’ve been doing markets. The same is true this year. I’ll be in Whistler at the Westin doing the Made in Whistler Market.
We always make a point of seeing our families over Christmas. It’s important and non-negotiable for both us. I now also get to spend Christmas with my beautiful niece. Kids add a spark to every tradition, because it becomes about sharing what we love with someone who hasn’t really experienced any of it before. We also get to create brand new traditions with her, and I’m so glad I get to be apart of that. I find time with family rejuvenates and recharges me, getting me ready for the year ahead.
Chris and I have started a Christmas tradition of our own: it involves travel. We’ve been going on small trips every year for the last while, but this year we’ve planned a big one. We’re going to New Zealand. We’ll be there visiting friends for three weeks – it’s the biggest trip we’ve taken since 2014 and we’re really excited. These trips are when Chris and I get a chance to spend quality time with one another. We don’t have a plan for this trip (which I think is making Chris feel a little stressed), but I’m loving the uncertainty of it; how we’ll be letting the trip unfold spontaneously. A little surprise is a good addition to every holiday season.
Less than one week until Christmas!!