January 15, 2017

Christmas in the City

As I have over 6k photos and videos from Spain to edit, I'm going to stall with a few photos from Christmas Day 2016 :)

Does your family have any holiday traditions?

I wouldn't count my family to be very traditional; my parents are immigrants who didn't grow up with most of the holidays we celebrate in the US. Despite that, however, I've noticed a lot of patterns among our Christmas's past, and I do find comfort in the familiarities. 

To begin, though we've spent some Christmas's at our house in NJ, we've spent the majority at my cousins' house in NYC. Before we step foot into their house, I'm comforted by the familiar Christmas decorations that we can see from outside - I can always count on them being in the very same place. 

Similarly, the interior - the Christmas tree, holiday lights, stockings, reindeer on the mantle - always looks the same. We greet each other, set down the gifts by the tree, hand our coats off to my cousins, and settle down. Not too long afterwards, we all gather around the dining table for a meal.

Traditionally, we eat a late lunch together, but this year, my grandfather's baptismal took place in the afternoon, so we had dinner instead. The food varies, but we can expect a mix of cuisines - Chinese, American, Italian, etc. My grandma often makes her Chinese desserts (including a personal favorite,  ), we all bring various take-out dishes from Chinatown restaurants, and my aunt makes a ton of food herself -- oh, and there's always rice, because we're Chinese ;)

The cousins tend to finish eating first, and we scamper off to the basement (we used to go to the attic) to continue watching a movie/tv shows together. You may think that watching a movie is impersonal or doesn't allow for much interaction, but I beg to differ. With us, you can expect a lot of entertaining commentary! A few years ago, we even had enough time after watching the movie to play Cards of Humanity - my first time, actually, and we had so much fun. We've baked cookies and played guitar in years past too, but I wouldn't count those as long-standing traditions. On the other hand, my mom will always find her way to interrupt our viewing to snap several photos!

Meanwhile, as the adults are finishing up, my grandfather finds his way to the couch to watch Christmas Day basketball. I have absolutely no idea when this tradition began; it's been that old of a habit! There used to be the slightest hint of tension on Christmas Day, because the kids wanted to watch their programs while my grandfather needed his basketball (go Knicks - if they're playing).

As the day's winding down, we'll eventually gather in the living room (with the basketball game still playing) to open Christmas gifts. 
There's been a lot of changes recently, and to be honest, I wasn't sure what this Christmas would bring. I know that the true meaning of Christmas does not rest in our largely secular celebrations, but let's face it: the excitement of the holiday season builds up to one single day. That builds quite a bit of pressure and increases expectations, which, in turn, can render deep disappointment. 

I'm incredibly grateful to say that this past Christmas went very smoothly and was stress-free. There was real family time. There was the comfort, stability, and familiarity of traditions, which is something that I needed after a turbulent year. Maybe it was so wonderful because I was doubtful and didn't expect much out of it. Regardless, it was a great way to cap off 2016.
Coat: Banana Republic, Dress: Urban Outfitters, Tights: Target, Flats: Anne Klein
(all from past seasons)

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