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Building Beautiful Holiday Traditions

Posted Nov 03 2008 8:47pm

As the weather begins to turn and I start to focus on the upcoming holidays, I start thinking about traditions. I've always loved to hear stories about families and their traditions during the holiday season. I'm sure this is in part due to my structured personality. I'm a 'creature of habit' when it comes to everything. Although I've done better as an adult, I have never been someone that deals well with changes. I like things to be the same. All the time. Therefore, it makes sense with my personality that I would like repeating traditions year after year.

But I also love the legacy that traditions create. Traditions born in families create great stories to be passed down, a sense of being part of something greater, and pride in carrying on the tradition.

When I got married, I had hopes of creating these great big family traditions at the holidays that we would eagerly anticipate every year and that would be big, show-stopping events. I had a warped sense of tradition, for some reason, I don't know why. I was too concerned with trying to 'create' a tradition, instead of letting a tradition be born itself. That was my problem. When I stopped trying, things started to happen. I also realized with a little maturity, that traditions didn't need to be big overtures, that small, individual gestures could be my own, personal traditions. That was enough.

This year I am pleased to realize that some of our family traditions have finally taken off. A few years back when I let go of my disappointment over the holidays not being what I envisioned in my mind, the seeds were sowed, even though I didn't know it. Now, although unorthodox by many's standards, my own family's traditions have not only rooted themselves into our lives, but they have begun to flourish...

Our Thanksgiving weekend has become a real joyful tradition. Three years ago, cousins from Arizona came to visit for a long holiday weekend full of good food, lots of laughter, night rides through the ranch, and wild pig hunting. The first Thanksgiving we celebrated this, it was just the three of us and the two of them. The 5 of us together had a wonderful weekend of laughs and memories. Throughout the following year, we mentioned that holiday weekend together with such fond memories, that other Parilli cousins took note and planned to come the following year. Last year, there was the original 5 of us again, plus another 4 cousins!

It was a wild weekend. Stories of Venezuela, the ancestors from Italy, the poking fun at each other took over from the moment the cousins hit the door. Night after night we ate like kings and queens,drank and laughed, and marveled at how fun (and loud!) we were as a group, sitting around my dining room table night after night, sharing one another's company. Heartwarming. Just like the year before, we'd talk and laugh into the wee hours, and instead of going off to bed, we'd load up onto the 4-wheelers and head off into the night to watch the stars and look for the elusive wild pigs...

This is a tradition that continues to grow. This year, 7 of last year's 9 will be in attendance, as well as 5 friends from Arizona, my Dad, and David's family from Venezuela. So far, we know that 14 people that are coming to the ranch for Thanksgiving Weekend with us! I will serve my famous Carne Mechada with arroz, yuca, y platanos... the night before Thanksgiving, oh and I can't forget the Rum Cake for dessert that has made me famous in the family. On Thanksgiving Day I will start Tom Turkey early and serve a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, one that everyone has talked about since I finally learned how to cook. Its my favorite meal of the year to prepare and I take great pride in serving my mother's recipes with her love and grace. We'll drink lots of wine and whiskey, take lots of pictures...

This year I'm adding a new element to our Great Big Holiday. Since all of the people coming are from far away, we don't usually get the chance to see them again at Christmastime. Therefore, this year I will have a Christmas Kick-Off party on Saturday night after Thanksgiving. We will roll in the Christmas tree (I'll have it ready in the garage) and light it that night. We'll hire a Mariachi band and dress up. We'll dance, drink and be merry under the stars in our suits and dresses, amidst the cows and horses that will be our audience. We'll bring in the Christmas Season in a way that is uniquely and authentically ours.

What are some traditions that you and your family celebrate during the holidays? Please take a moment to share them with us in the comments section. Oh yeh, my Comments Section is called HOLLA... (its a long story). Share with us please!
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