Holiday traditions

Christmas traditionsThanksgiving rolled on through, like a freight train through a sleeping city. The day was pleasantly spent with family, sharing traditional food and catching up on all the mundane things that happen between family gatherings. There also was planning for the future, watching grandchildren play and a general atmosphere of comraderie.

Though it sounds a bit droll, it really wasn’t. I love the holiday season and the time spent with family. It’s nice to take a day and stop the business of everyday life to relax with people I really care about. But it rolls through too fast. If I blink, it’s gone and the business of living continues.

With Christmas coming, I hope to be able to slow things down enough to enjoy the full season. I love the Christmas decorations, the giving, the colors and lights, the music and most of all, the reason for the season.

When I was growing up, we always put up the tree and decorations over Thanksgiving weekend, sometimes after dinner on Thanksgiving. We had one of those artificial trees where you pegged each bough into a hole in the wooden trunk, starting at the top and building down. The eclectic decorations were a diary of family milestones, many made by my sister and I, others sent from my aunt in California, and others with specific dates commemorating special events. We would talk about those milestones as we drank eggnog and decorated the tree.

Then came the nativity scene, which I still have. There was a huge built-in cabinet and book shelf next to the closet in the livingroom and the nativity went on the bottom self, which was about waist high. The barn was near the back, with the small light plugged in behind. Quilt batting provided the snow in the landscape, and the figurines were placed with the baby in the manger as the focal point. I would grab at the privilege of setting up the nativity scene, listening to Christmas songs as it took shape.

We also hung stockings from the fireplace mantle.

Christmas Eve we would go to a candlelight service and maybe open one gift. But before we opened gifts, we would read the Christmas story.

As our children were growing up, Ron and I carried some of the traditions into our home. A nativity was always set, and Christmas morning was ours as a nucleus family, with stockings stuffed with fruits, nuts and gifts. Even after the kids were grown and out of the house, Christmas morning traditions continued with them coming over late on Christmas Eve or sneaking in during the night to be there when Ron and I woke up.

Now that they have their own families, traditions are changing, as are decorations. Ron bought me a pre-lit tree last year, though we have had real trees since the children were little. I am looking forward to setting it up. Two traditions have peeked through the changes of time, the eclectic ornaments providing a diary of special moments in our lives and the nativity scene that I still lovingly put up every year.

If you have children, spend time with them talking about what Christmas really is. That is more important than gifts. If you have aging parents, help keep some of the traditions alive for them. That is more important than gifts. The most important part of the Christmas season is sharing love. I wish you a holiday filled with more love than you knew you had.


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