[Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories] Pre-Holiday Traditions

Welcome to MyNeChimKi’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories! Thanks to Geneabloggers for developing these fantastic prompts for some holiday spirited blogging. Over the next month we’ll be blogging about some of our fondest Christmas memories.

Today’s topic: Pre-Holiday Traditions, adding to the Christmas Traditions

In more recent years we have begun a sort of “pre-holiday” Christmas build-up, if you will. The Christmas holiday has always been one of warmth and cheer surrounded by friends and family. I see no better way to enhance that by succumbing to stretching the celebration out over the entire month of December.

William & Mary’s Yule Log Ceremony

Me, Steve, Mom & Dad, Yule Log 2008

Me, Steve, Mom & Dad - Yule Log 2008

I am a proud alumnus from The College of William and Mary in Virginia. W&M is a college deeply steeped in tradition, with roots and branches spanning all the years back to 1693. If there is one thing that W&M has more than anything, it’s tradition.

One of my most cherished William & Mary traditions is that of the Yule Log. Each year on the Saturday between finals the college campus takes a moment out of their studies to celebrate the tradition of the Yule Log. Sponsored by Omicron Delta Kappa and Mortar Board, the Yule Log ceremony presents the multicultural winter traditions of the major world religions. Following there is caroling, a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by the college President, and finally the burning of the Yule Logs. Prior to the start of the ceremony, each participant is handed a sprig of holly. As the Yule Logs process through the crowds you are supposed to brush your sprig of holly over the log, bringing to mind all the hardships and transgressions of the past year. The throngs then follow the Yule Logs into the Wren Building chapel and toss their holly sprigs into the flames of the burning Yule Logs, casting away all the bad luck from last year and ensuring a clean slate for the following year.

Oh, and I almost forgot… The Gentlemen of the College sing…. and boy how do they sing!!!

For nearly 8 straight years now my family has only missed two Yule Log ceremonies (bad weather prevented us from attending). As I write this post, it is the eve of the Yule Log ceremony. Tomorrow afternoon we will be having lunch at The Cheese Shop, sharing a cookie and hot cider at the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop, and getting rid of 2009’s bad luck! Afterwards we’ll probably curse The Green Leafe for scheduling their annual Christmas Beer Tasting dinner on the same night as the Yule Log celebration. Even though they now have a second location in New Town, I still prefer the original location among the Delis across from Zabel Stadium.

It’s not Christmas without Didi

It has also become an annual Christmas tradition to visit The Warner Theatre and see A Tuna Christmas. They often have a tour around about Thanksgiving and you can often find us in either the first or the second row. Didi Snavely never gets old, and the jokes seem to get funnier every year.

On the years that they don’t happen to be touring (unfortunately, this is one of those years), we have acquired a copy of the DVD and we’ll view it downstairs in my movie room. It’s almost like being there.

Two Christmases ago I gave my mother a golden glittered hand grenade ornament to commemorate our many years of watching Tuna. I think we might be the only two people on the planet that actually hang a hand grenade on our tree next to an beautiful olive wood relief of the Holy family flown in from Jerusalem.

Christmas Tree Spinning

Christmas Tree Spinning

Christmas Tree Spinning

On the years that we’re lucky enough to go to El Dorado, Arkansas and visit family there is one thing that truly makes it Christmas. Spinning underneath the lit Christmas tree that adorns the KTVE tower. I just learned this year that the KTVE TV station in El Dorado, Arkansas is actually home to THE tallest man-made Christmas tree in the WORLD. Austin, Texas likes to say that theirs is the tallest, but KTVE has them beat by a good 50 feet.

The tradition is to drive up under the tree, get out, and spin until you fall down… or throw up, whichever comes first.

Ah, it’s not Christmas without a good Christmas tree spinning.

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