Traditions are important. They provide us continuity. Once a season or every year we look to repeating something we’ve done the year or years before in hopes of offering familiarity. Birthdays are celebrated with cake, even if we don’t like cake. Anniversaries are celebrated with dinner at the same restaurant we’ve gone to every year prior even if we are tired of the menu.
Christmas traditions are no different. I’ve tried to establish traditions that offer my family continuity. However, some of them have just gone the way of the beasts. Like pajamas on Christmas Eve. I’ve always liked this idea. I thought it made sense until all three of my children made it clear to me they didn’t wear pajamas to bed. OK, but the socks and underwear every year, that is one tradition that is staying. If I have to watch you walk around without pajamas I’m at least gonna know your underwear are new.
Or Christmas trees. I don’t like Christmas trees. I don’t like the idea of cutting down a tree to put inside my house, take hours to decorate with ornaments, look empty and lonely with the lack of a multitude of gifts - only for me to take the ornaments off weeks later and throw the tree in the trash. LET THE TREES GROW, I say.
I love buying or making my children Christmas ornament to mark the years. I want to keep this tradition. I just don’t want to hang them on a tree. I want to hang them on a chain intertwined with garland and lights. I want to hang the chains each winter season and recount the memories of Christmas past. A new tradition.
I like to make sugar cookies and decorate them. I love the time we take to make them look like the thing they represent, a tree, an angel, a snowman, a cat, a Santa Claus. Until the snowman gets covered with yellow icing (isn’t that funny?), the cat is blue and Santa Claus looks like a globe of red with white sprinkles. We didn’t decorate cookies until after Christmas this year. I thought that was good as most of us were over cookied already. Another new tradition - wait until after Christmas to make cookies.
Christmas Eve will always have a candle lighting service for me. I hope for my children, as well. It will always have A Charlie Brown Christmas, because nothing makes me feel better than watching Charlie pick the worst Christmas tree in the lot only to have his friends and family make it wonderful. Linus gives the best meaning of Christmas ever!
I will always anticipate the miracles that come only at Christmas. The relatives or friends who show up unexpected but always welcome. The gifts that no one is quite sure where they came from. These are the traditions I will always love and hold dear. Some of the others - like Black Friday and Anxiety Thursday - those I’ll let go along with the pajamas and trees.
May your traditions have meaning and purpose and not show and tell.
As Always - Kyle