And so this is Christmas - and what have you done?
Sure, I'm quoting John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" - but I'm also asking. Seriously.
Why do I want to know? Well, because, today of all days of the year, tradition means more than anything. You know what I'm saying.
It's like my new friend Paula from Mineral Ridge and I were talking about as we waited in line at the Giant Eagle in Canfield the other day: What makes Christmas Christmas isn't the bling or loot. It's the intangible - the stuff you can count on to never change from year to year; those things you remember most vividly from Christmases long past. You know - traditions.
For Paula - who was happy to receive a shout out but preferred not to share her surname - the tradition she cherishes most from her youth was that of receiving a fresh apple and orange in her stocking each Christmas morning. It's something that meant so much to her that she made sure to ask Old St. Nick to please continue the trend for each of her four children as they were growing up. Not only did he comply with her request, but he also now fills it for all of her six grandchildren. He is a real stickler for tradition, that St. Nick.
To my pal Linda Ellison of Howland, Christmas tradition is a hill of beans. Green ones.
"Oh, Christmas dinner was what we waited all year for so we could have my Mom's green bean casserole. It was the only time she let us eat those french-fried onions right out of the can," she said with a chuckle.
But it wasn't so much the beans or onions as it was the kitchen prep time she shared bonding with her late mom and younger sister.
"We'd sit there, and Mom would be mixing and baking and we'd be munching away. We'd all just talk and laugh. Almost every year we'd get so busy doing other things that we'd forget about the casserole and the onions would get a little burned," she told me.
It's such a happy memory, in fact, that their tradition has become burning the onions intentionally. "Now it's a competition: who can char them just enough to still be tasty but not so much that the smoke detector goes off," Linda said, laughing.
Bet her mom gets a kick out of that one as she looks down on Christmas each year.
As for our house: French toast casserole baking in the oven, bacon sizzling on the stove top, a fire crackling in the fireplace, and watching a parade on TV from some random, tropical location - that's the Kimerer Christmas morning tradition.
Did I mention tearing open gifts before dawn's first light? Ooh, and there's that penchant we have for each sneaking open one gift on Christmas Eve, too. Either way.
Hopefully, reading "My Sentiments Exactly" doesn't disrupt your Christmas tradition too terribly much. Happy traditions and merry Christmas, everyone!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her with your raw or overcooked Christmas traditions at firstname.lastname@example.org.