I grew up in a family steeped in traditions during the holidays. This year, for various reasons, I almost didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Since we won’t be in our home for the actual holiday, we decided it best to not go to the local Christmas tree farm and cut down an eight-foot evergreen and haul it home. That’s a tradition my husband and I started on our first Christmas in our new home two years ago, and I missed it this year. Instead, I hauled out the spare artificial tree I’ve had for nearly two decades and put it in the showcase spot in our front room.
It may not smell like the outdoors, but once I decorated it with all my ornaments, I realized in my living room now stands a story of my life.
I don’t make sloppy joes on Christmas Eve, but my brothers’ families still adhere to that tradition. I didn’t put up the ceramic nativity this year, and I already regret it because it always brings me peace to gaze at those small figurines depicting the true story of the season. My brother Don and I painted and repaired those characters each year although I haven’t done much of anything to them except glue the baby Jesus’ hand back on with super glue last year. There weren’t that many happy memories from my childhood so I treasure the good ones I do have. I also treasure the memories of Christmas Eve when we set up Mom’s old sewing table in the living room in front of the tree. Mom always found an appropriate tablecloth and placed candles on either end. One of my brothers would read the Christmas story from the Bible. Afterwards, I would sing Away in the Manger. Then I’d hear my oldest brother say, “Ho, ho” from the top of the stairs, and my family always expected me as the youngest to believe it was Santa. Like most families, we mixed our holiday metaphors and celebrations into one big happy pot of tradition.
My family isn’t all that unique. There many things we didn’t do well, but we knew how to celebrate Christmas. My parents have since passed. Santa brother and manger-painting brother both died several years ago. I’m left with memories, some ornaments, and a warm feeling in my heart for this time of year. But I’m also here to make new memories with my husband, my daughter and her boyfriend, and other family and dear friends.
What are your favorite holiday memories (from any holiday)?
Happy holidays whatever form they take. May you find peace and love in all you do.