Growing up, I always assumed that my family’s holiday traditions were the ways that all families celebrated the various holidays. Obviously, as I grew up, I began to realize the holiday traditions are unique to each family who creates them. For me, my family traditions have always been a way to make the holidays even more special.
Leading Up to Christmas
Once tradition the Coppedge’s always participate in during the weeks leading up to Christmas, is the Coppedge Women Christmas Lunch. Years ago, when my grandma first started the tradition, we all went to lunch at the L.S. Ayers Tea Room at the Indiana State Museum. After a few years of attending lunch there, we decided to switch up locations and have been ever since. Once aspect of this tradition that I really love is that it gives all of the Coppedge women an opportunity to come together without the craziness of Christmas and the presents, and to just enjoy each other’s company.
Since our family is fairly large, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to buy gifts for everyone on Christmas. So instead, on Thanksgiving, we each draw a name and that’s who we buy a Christmas present for. Something about this tradition that always makes me laugh is that for the past few years or so, my cousin Sabrina and I always rig the drawing so that we get each other!
The Coppedge’s always celebrate Christmas with each other on Christmas Eve. For as long as I can remember, we always celebrate at my Aunt Pam and Uncle Jim’s house. Since my Uncle Jim is Italian, naturally, our dinner is a complete Italian cuisine of homemade spaghetti and meat sauce, salad, and delicious bread. We all exchange the gifts we got for each other and spend the rest of the night celebrating Christmas.
Once we got home, my Grandma Jean always gives my siblings and I a pair of pajamas, which we wear to bed that night and have on when opening gifts on Christmas Eve. It is a sort of quirky tradition, but it one that I love and we have been doing for many, many years.
It started when we were younger. My mom always woke us up on Christmas morning, but instead of letting us go downstairs, she made us sit at the top of the steps until she turned on all the lights, got her coffee, and my parents were ready to go. We would then rush down the stairs with excitement to open our gifts (we’re a little groggier with this now). We always got one big gift from Santa, which sat by the fireplace. Now that we’re older and past our Santa phases, Santa gets my siblings and I each one big food present, mine usually being a big tin of popcorn.
One tradition that I specifically love is that each of us pick out our own wrapping paper each year and all of our gifts are wrapped in that paper. I always try and pick a different paper each year. Senior year of high school I had what I call my “pink Christmas”. Last year, it was the Grinch (my favorite character of all time).
While we’re opening presents, my mom always puts her Breakfast Casserole in the oven so that it’s ready by the time we are done opening presents. We don’t go anywhere on Christmas day, so it’s usually pretty relaxed. In the afternoon we always have appetizers for lunch, like summer sausage and spinach dip with Hawaiian bread. At night, we have our Christmas dinner, which consists of pretty traditional foods like ham, cheesy potatoes, and deviled eggs.
New Year’s Day
This is a tradition that I definitely look forward to all year: my grandma’s “good luck” New Year’s Day meal. Each year on January 1, we eat corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, and carrots. Since we only eat this meal once a year, I usually cannot get enough of it. I cannot think of a better way to start off each year.