Wicked Wednesday: Odd Family Traditions

ODD FAMILYWickeds, have you created any odd family traditions for the characters in your series? Any tics that resonate with you personally? Even if you haven’t included it in a book (yet), can you imagine any family traditions your characters might have in the holiday season?

Edith: I had carefully avoided using Christmas in a book – until my editor asked me to write a Christmas novella! Robbie Jordan is at her boyfriend Abe’s parents’s home. She notices a little Snoopy, Bert from Sesame Street, and a plastic chicken mixed into their Nativity scene. I stole this directly from my own creche scene, where the traditional characters are the plaster ones my mother hand-painted many decades ago (we have Gumby’s horse Pokey, too…).

NativityScene2018Look for Christmas Cocoa Murders next fall! Of course, Quakers of 130 years ago didn’t celebrate holidays, so we’re not going to see those traditions in that series.

Sherry: I haven’t written a book set in December yet. If I did I would include having Sarah write letters to soldiers. It’s not exactly odd, but not something every family does. If you are interested in sending letters to soldiers here’s a link to organizations who coordinate then put them together.

Liz: Of course, Christmas was full of murder in Frog Ledge. The town has a tradition of Santa riding across the town green in a sleigh for the annual Christmas tree lighting. But in Purring Around the Christmas Tree, he showed up DOA. Other than that, I haven’t had my character establish any of their own traditions yet.

Julie: A Christmas Peril takes place at Christmas time, but there aren’t any odd holiday traditions in it. Just a theater company doing a production of A Christmas Carol. I do have some odd holiday traditions I could add to a book, and probably will at some point. We watch White Christmas Thanksgiving night. We have to have turkey for Christmas dinner. Even if we also have ham, or roast beef, there has to be turkey. There are more, but I’m saving them for a book.

Barb: Clammed Up, the first Maine Clambake Mystery takes place in the spring and in it the Snowden family make strawberry rhubarb jam. I write about how Julia’s mother is an awful cook and how Julia and her sister were mortified to deliver the brown sludge, with a happy red bow around each jar, to their neighbors at Christmas time. In “Logged On,” in Yule Log Murder, I finally pay that off when Julia delivers a jar to their next door neighbor, Mrs. St. Onge, who says to put it in her pantry. High on the pantry shelf Julia sees twenty years of full jam jars, some still with fading bows attached.

How about you, dear readers? Any odd holiday traditions we could borrow for our books?

40 Thoughts

  1. When my daughter was three, she and I moved in with the man who later became my husband. He had no Christmas decorations so I bought an inexpensive tree and an assortment of gold and red ornaments. Then my mother sent my daughter a package with a pink felt pig ornament attached. Of course she wanted to hang it on the tree. Hmmmm. Not exactly color coordinated. We decided hanging it on the back of the tree where it could look out the window was a good idea. Forty-five years later our daughter still hangs it on the back of the tree when she comes at Christmas. Only there has been a funny twist to the tradition. She converted to Judaism some years ago. So now our Jewish daughter hangs a pink pig on a Christmas tree. That’s just one of our oddball traditions. We are sort of a oddball family and we hall a ball.

  2. When my 3 youngest girls were little, I purchased Playmobil advent calendars for each of them. There is a cardboard scene to set up and then everyday there is a piece to put on a designated spot, thus having a cute Christmas scene at the end. This one year, on maybe day three, I had noticed something off about Becca’s scene, but thought nothing of it. The more days that passed made me realize she was making a crime scene! By the 24th, it was absolutely hilarious! I do hope she still does that!

  3. Not sure this would work in a cozy, but in my father’s family, Christmas breakfast was always home-made oyster stew. It was a firm rule that breakfast must be eaten before presents could be opened, so every Christmas, I had to choke down at least one soft, squishy, fishy poached oyster as a condition of getting my presents. Scarred for life, that’s what I am.

  4. My grandmother didn’t cook, and when I was growing up she lived in a studio apartment in Manhattan (with a Park Avenue address) where the only cooking space had started out as a clothes closet. But for major holidays, she would arrive for a visit loaded with wonderful sweets from Robert Day Dean’s (which also used to handle food service at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The macaroons were amazing, and so were the decorated sugar cookies. Luckily my mother didn’t enjoy desserts, so my sister and I claimed the lion’s share.

  5. We don’t have any Christmas traditions since it’s not our holiday but until a few years ago we used to go out for Chinese food every Christmas Eve

  6. Bells, Spells, and Murders, the seventh in my Witch City mysteries, takes place in Salem at Christmas. Though Salem already has plenty of wonderful holiday features going on, I added a few more–like a lighted boat parade in the harbor, a production of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas at the Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts, a hand bell concert and a rather strange happening involving some wayward Monarch butterflies

  7. The only thing I have in the way of a different Christmas tradition is that we usually had loaded down sandwiches with a wide assortment of chips and dip and then an even wider selection of desserts at our home on Christmas. After many years of Mom missing out on a lot of activities because she was in the kitchen preparing this huge Christmas dinner, it was decided that we would do simple on Christmas Day so Mom could join in on the fun. Since my Dad’s birthday was New Year’s Eve just a week later, we had our big celebration dinner with all the bells and whistles on his birthday instead of on Christmas.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

      1. My maternal grandfather declared “no Christmas dinner” when his four children were growing up. Saying that “Hat worked hard enough”. She decorated, made Christmas cookies and fudge, wrapped packages, was Santa, and made sure that the tree did not appear until after all the children had gone to bed. My mother remembered Christmas as a day of eating cookies and sweets all day long with no real meals. It was my wish that my growing up Christmases had been the same. Also wish that I had known Grandpa, he died when I was 2. I treasure many wonderful stories about his parenting and his love for Grammy, “Hat” was Grandpa’s shortening of Grammy’s “Hattie” (which was her given name, not “Harriet”).

  8. I have a beautiful crèche from Jerusalem that is very dear to me but we have an additional crèche that amongst other creatures has the tiger from Aladdin, Yoda and a teenage mutant ninja turtle. I also have my mothers Christmas Village on the mantel. I have been sneaking in Santa aliens into the scene for years. My nephews love to look for them every Christmas.

  9. Hi Edith,

    I noted the photo and was wondering if RBG was one of the magi?

    Actually I could imagine the culture clash when Rose visits her mother-in-law to be at Christmas time and her expectations that Rose will participate in the family’s holiday traditions. It seems like it would be a nice opportunity to share Quaker’s Christmas traditions (I guess I should say non-traditions) with your readers. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity to explore both Quaker attitudes toward Christmas and more general Christmas traditions of the period.

  10. My family all sleeps around the Christmas tree one night. I haven’t done it in a few years when I’m home for Christmas, but my parents are keeping that tradition alive with my niece and nephew.

      1. We don’t sleep around the tree on Christmas Eve. Growing up, it was often the 23rd. As an adult, it became more flexible. But never on the 24th.

  11. LOL, Barb, love that pay-off to the jam jars! Sadly, my family isn’t as into the holidays as I am. When my mom would come stay with us, we’d go to Christmas Eve candlelight services at our charming local Unitarian Church, which always reminds me of New England. Then we’d watch the Alistair Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which is our favorite. Past movies were WHITE CHRISTMAS and A CHRISTMAS STORY, but I’ve settled on the Sim movie – which I watch alone, since Mom isn’t making the trip west anymore, sigh…

  12. My grandmother always wallpapered the living room Christmas Eve during the day. My dad said it was years till he knew everyone didn’t do that.

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