For me, the holidays kick off with Thanksgiving and last right on into January.
Thanksgiving is almost always spent at my family cabin with two to three dozen friends and family members. We usually cook two to three turkeys: one oven baked, one barbecued, and one deep fried. Six homemade pies: two apple, two pumpkin, and two bourbon pecan are par for the course. Prior to dinner, each person takes a lone kernel of corn. A basket is then passed around and each person places his/her kernel in the basket and says what he or she is thankful for. Some Thanksgivings, we build and launch water-propelled bottle rockets. One of my nephews came up with the idea in 2009, and we continued the tradition on into 2010 and 2011. We opted not to do it this year for some of the people who partook in the event during previous years weren't able to attend, and (to be perfectly honest) the novelty had sort of run its course. Though, I suspect we'll resume the tradition at some point in time, hence my reason for listing it. I have a video of our rocket flying antics and if anyone expresses an interest in seeing it, I'll post it. To help work up an appetite, we play several rounds of disc golf. We built three disc golf courses on the 160 acre property and weather permitting, I try to play all three courses during our Thanksgiving stay.
Another December/January tradition is my brother-in-law's annual holiday break LEGO® party. As a kid, he was a huge LEGO® fanatic (still is), now that he's all grown up, he uses my nephews as an excuse to break out his countless boxes of LEGOs. Sometime in December (or January - depending on his schedule), he invites the kids over as well as any adult kids at heart, and we transform his entire living room into a giant LEGO® land. We do this until the wee hours of the morning, then break out the sleeping bags and call it a night. The next morning we have a big pancake breakfast and then put away our previous night's creations. It's silly fun for the kids and adults alike. A couple years back, my youngest nephew discovered my brother-in-law's giant ball of Silly Putty®. He used it to fashion a pair of Dobby the House Elf ears. They were adorable (albeit very messy, for small LEGO® pieces kept getting embedded in the putty). Here are a few photos from past previous LEGO® parties, including one of my Silly Putty® Dobby-eared nephew.
One of the traditions I partake in that the rest of my family does not, is the Turning Wheels for Kids annual bike build. In fact, that's where I was most of today. The event is a local bike build for charity. We assemble donated bikes (3,000 this year), which will then be given away to children in need during the holidays. All the donated bikes are brand new (as opposed to hand-me-downs).
I usually help my mom put up her tree. I guess one could call that a tradition. She hasn't got one for this year yet, but she assures me she and her friend will be picking one up on Tuesday.
Christmas Eve is usually spent at my parents' home. My youngest sister and my brother-in-law come over early and they help mom make ravioli. Everything is made from scratch including the ravioli dough. We exchange some gifts with relatives, though my immediate family saves their gifts until Christmas Day. After our Christmas Eve dinner gathering, we head over to midnight mass. On Christmas Day, I go to my eldest sister's home along with all the rest of my immediate family members. She cooks prime rib and we frequently watch a classic movie or play games. Sometime during the second week of January, I'll help mom take down the tree, marking the end of our holiday festivities.