I love Christmas. I’m not a religious person, but I love the tradition of Christmas.
In my family, we gather together on Christmas Eve for a family meal and then we open one present each. The next morning we wait until everyone is awake, then we dig into our stockings, which are usually laid out together under or near the tree since we’ve never lived anywhere that has the kind of weather for a fireplace.
Peeking out of the top of the stocking is usually a box of sugary cereal and that’s what we’ll eat for breakfast (with soy or rice milk of course) along with the thing at the bottom of the stocking that fills in the round toe section: an orange. The orange is such a family tradition that to me, it might not be Christmas without an orange in my stocking.
Between the sugary cereal and the orange lie an assortment of odds and ends: things like vegan chocolate candies, hairbands and nail polish (cruelty-free of course), funny gadgets and games, small books or a USB flash drive, jewlery or watches, gift cards, poems and love notes, and other animal-friendly wares.
After the stockings come the presents, which may or may not be sitting under a tree. One year the presents were aligned under the grand piano and atop the piano sat a tiny live rosemary bush to be planted outside after the holiday. Another year the presents were piled next to a sparkly silver tabletop faux tree.
As children, we tore the gifts open one after the other and made piles of our bounty. I remember constantly comparing the size of my pile to the size of my younger sister’s pile. Somehow, I always felt jealous (and somehow, so did she).
As adults we play White Elephant. That means that each adult receives just one gift, but the gifts are not assigned so it’s all just a matter of chance. The gifts are always a mixture of practical and frivolous things with lots of love around it all. Things like a tea set or a gift card to Whole Foods. Things like mixed CDs or yellow marionette monkeys.
As the day moves on, our family generally goes out to a movie (it’s usually terrible, but that never matters) and plays a family board game like Last Word, Apples To Apples, or Taboo.
Along the way, we have a bit of family drama and someone winds up pouting or crying, but that’s because we’re normal. We’re not a TV family. We’re not perfect.
For us, the day is about family. And for us, our family chooses not to hurt other families, even the nonhuman families. So fo us, Christmas is vegan.