12.19.2008

Remember December: T is for Traditions

The siblings visiting with Santa

Christmas carries with it numerous traditions that have originated from countries of birth, places of worship, couples blending traditions of two families at marriage, fresh and original ones that have been created to match the times, and those that people just read about or see and take them on as part of Christmas.
At my babysitter's house after Christmas.

At lunch the other day we were all discussing what different families hold sacred at Christmas. I was amazed at the variety of answers. One family always has turkey and ham for Christmas dinner and it almost broke up the family the year somebody served steaks. Another staff person told about her whole family opening their gifts when they all gather at the Oregon Coast for Thanksgiving. Since the family is spread all over the Pacific Northwest it is the one time they can all enjoy the gift sharing ritual. Somebody else said homemade tamales are always prepared by their Mexican grandmother to be served on Christmas Eve. Also on Christmas Eve many attend Midnight Mass, candlelight services, or church singalongs.
One friend of mine has a fun tradition with gifts. Every year a theme is chosen and everyone that year wraps gifts in that theme. It might be all red and white paper, paper only sponge painted with green designs, or a blue theme. It must look like a art gallery display under that tree each Christmas. Other friends have White Elephant exchanges, Christmas Eve decorating of the tree when everyone arrives home, or game night after a new one is given to the family each Christmas Eve. Matching pajamas, Santa stockings, and watching of traditional movies are important traditions in other homes.
Our family definitely had certain traditions. I don't recall how some of them originated, but they have always been a part of the celebration of Christmas. We used to only get to open one present on Christmas Eve no matter how much we begged. After Silver Valley Girl was a bit older we couldn't see what Santa brought until she was awake. We did some pretty wild things to wake up that dead to the world sleeper. I know one had to do with throwing my mother's girdle.

We started getting more experimental with Christmas Eve dinners as we grew older. I guess Dad decided if it "wasn't too weird" we could try it. There were Christmas Eve dinners that included fondue, clam chowder, and hot crab sandwich. We tried for something simplier before the Christmas Eve church service. For the last seventeen years Silver Valley Girl has done her Around the World Dinner for Christmas Eve. She chooses a country and we learn about the traditions , eat the foods, and sometimes even have performances revolving around that country. This year she is breaking tradition a bit by doing a whole continent. We are celebrating Christmas Eve with all the countries of Africa.

The unplanned traditions are the ones our family remembers most. The year the clams didn't make it into the chowder, or when Mom decided to improve our carbon footprints before we knew what it meant by having us recycle bows and paper, the collection of Christmas morning photos that depicted the worst array of bathrobes worn by the male members of the family, or when sweet Silver Valley Girl made an ornament with her picture for the tree which resulted in her siblings trying to hang their 8x10 senior pictures on the tree every year after that.

Tradition is the glue that holds families together. I can't wait to see the Silent Night ornament, eat Mom's spritz, Nuts and Bolts, and popcorn balls, and smell the brandy that has been soaking into the fruitcake for a month. Traditions also change. We miss our dad and grandmothers each year when the festivities begin. We have added spouses, said good-bye to spouses, added dogs, and said good-bye to dogs. Children and grandchildren have been added to the mix. I fondly remember the neighbors that have moved on or passed away that were such a part of our family Christmas. Mom doesn't have room for her usual tree in the living room this year, Raymond Pert will be spending his holiday at his own home, and if the snow and cold continues we may end up shortening our stay.

New memories will be made. Old stories will be remembered. " There is no place like home for the holidays."

2 comments :

  1. absolutely marvelous post. What a childhood you had.

    ReplyDelete
  2. JBelle...There are lots of good memories.

    ReplyDelete

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