Holiday traditions are what make Christmas special. Every year growing up, we knew where we would be, who we would see, and what we would be doing. Routine is comforting to most people. It is also often the only time you see certain people, so there is the anticipation of these meetings that come along only once a year.
Growing up in Austin, most of our relatives were in other cities such as Houston or San Antonio. We'd spend each Thanksgiving on a family ranch outside San Angelo with extended relatives. So, for Christmas we'd stay home.
When we were a little older, my mother decided she would host a Christmas party each Christmas afternoon. The novelty of the gathering was that everyone invited was somebody who lived in Austin (friends my parents knew from work or families from around town) that had no family here with whom to celebrate the holidays. She would prepare and serve all the assorted dishes associated with Christmas (turkey, honey ham, cranberry confit, etc.). And of course, the bar was open and began overflowing even before noon (usually with Mimosas and Bloody Marys). Whisky and Gin began after the meal was served. But the highlight of the whole affair was my mother's incredible oyster stew. Two days before Christmas I would begin craving it. Of course, there were never any leftovers, such as there were with the turkey and the ham.
I miss the crowd of folks that gathered every year. My mother passed away in 1990, and though we carried on the tradition every year afterwards for a decade or so, it was never the same without her. I'm already thinking about the oyster stew that I will not have this year. Instead I'll have to settle for the prime rib and Yorkshire pudding that I will make for my wife and my children. That has become our own little tradition.