You Had Me at Holidays... Mama Z

Bet you were wondering what kind of blog is called Mama Z, huh? Well... there might be one, but this Mama Z is actually my dear mother, dropping in to tell you about our family Christmas tradition: not having traditions at all! We're a family that likes variety... so each year tends to bring something different our way.

Christmas is indeed one of the favorites in the Z household (I could almost pass on Halloween, 4th of July and Easter if it meant getting in on more holidays like Christmas.)

When the kids were little, buying presents was so much fun for me, but wrapping them became a challenge (when, where, how to hide them from them, etc.) because we lived in a small ranch-style house and Lauren & Mike knew every nook and cranny of that place.

(One of many family holiday photos; this one's from the late 80's!)

As we all got older, they were allowed to 'place their orders' for what they wanted for Christmas.  If we could have afforded to do so earlier in their lives, we would have taken a few more Christmas family vacations like the year we went to St. Thomas.  In 2003, we arrived just after 10 pm on Christmas Eve; the resort wasn't anywhere near town, public transportation there is almost non-existent, and the only restaurant on site was closed for the holidays!  Starving and a bit testy, a nice Santa-like local took pity on us and whipped up 4 plates of terrific burgers and fries. I can't remember if or what we ate on Christmas Day itself, but I do remember that leaving the snow and travel hassles behind the day before, was very far from our minds in the beauty and warmth of that great place.

We were lucky to do another family vacation in Acapulco several years later (that one went quite smoothly), but none since, as Lauren now lives in St. Louis and Mike in San Francisco and these parents would probably have to spring for the entire bill to get them to join us now.  Thoughts for future gifting??? (***note from Lauren- I'll for sure share photos from these vacations at some point... they've been packed away in our basement until Sean and I move to a place with more space to display!***)

(Mike, Gramma Z, Lauren, Greg, Jason, Grandpa Z in Chicago for Christmas in the mid 90's)

Most other Christmases were spent driving to Chicago to the gramma's homes. We usually had to stay in a hotel, and spent the better part of our times there, driving to and from the west suburbs to the south suburbs, to the north suburbs--exhausting, scary drivers and fighting more snow than Missouri ever gets.  But Gramma Marcy & Papa Ray always had a feast of food, tons of presents, and of course, visits with at least 2 of Lauren & Mike's 4 cousins.  Gramma's meals always included at least 3 meats (one of which HAD to be locally made Polish sausage), her strawberry, creamy jello mold, and her very own homemade pound cake.  I still make every year, those wonderful pecan cups that she introduced me to--and it pains me to see how quickly those little cups are snarfed up when they take so long to make!

(at Grandma J's house for Christmas... late 80's)

For many years, the Heraty Clan (my Irish relatives) was met up in the north suburbs of Chicago for a huge Christmas celebration.  We were only able to make that trip once or twice, and then it moved to a hotel north of O'Hare.  I have 40+ cousins and with all them eventually having families of their own, the crowd grew to a crazy number of people.  Luckily, the Heraty Clan has moved that gathering to the summer as of 2006, when travel for all is so much easier.

(***note from Lauren- the above photo displays what has become a bit of a tradition for us- holiday poppers that contain paper hats and little toys for everyone. One of my favorite parts of Christmas that was passed to us through the family friends who are also in the above photo!***)

Seems like all in all, every year had to be a different scenario because, as an ICU RN, I'm required to work the holiday every other year, and alas, 2010 is my year once again.  Happy Holidays to all and safe travel, Rosemary Z (with love from Papa Z too)

This year we'll have a fairly uneventful Christmas since my mom has to work, but sometimes that is my favorite way to celebrate- on the couch, in pj's all day with plenty of food, a fire and Netflix... plus a pup to greet Mama Z with a lick when she gets home. We're not done yet... stay tuned tomorrow for more YHMH goodness! 

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