XMas Wreath Mural

Traditions …

Tracey Columns

I’d bet money that most of you won’t read this column today. Finding the time to read the paper doesn’t generally fit into the activities most common on December 25th. After all, the majority of you will be spending today up to your eyeballs in holiday madness … and hopefully, plenty of good cheer.

This day plays itself out in so many different ways. Naturally, in our current adult children/pre-grandchildren household, our Christmas celebrations have taken on a different flavor. We wake up when we want, have strong, hot coffee in our mugs before we do anything, and then finally, leisurely work our way through thoughtfully given gifts. The dog typically parks herself right in the middle of the chaos and by the time we head to the dining room for breakfast, she will have been festooned with various ribbons and bows. (The cat wisely takes a perch high on the back of an upholstered chair, seemingly oblivious to the cheerful racket that surrounds her.)

As civilized as our current approach is, I am struck by the traditions these children of ours insist we keep alive. Our daughters cheerfully “demand” matching pajamas for Christmas Eve … and loudly chide the adult males of the family who opted out of this tradition a few years ago. Stockings are always the last thing opened. Favorite Christmas carols must be playing in the background when we open gifts, even though no one really listens to them.

The mistletoe hanging over the doorway to the kitchen is definitely required, something I learned after I had failed to hang some one year. Discovering my omission, one of the kids quickly rectified the situation, admonishing me with a playful “really Mom?” sort of look.

I also have to laugh at the fact that while I continue to put up our wooden “Twenty-five days Until Christmas” thing, neither my husband nor I seem to remember to move the numbers every single day. Again, one of our adult children will feign total disbelief that mom and dad have not kept the days current, then carefully run through the numbers until we are all caught up.

After cataloging our odd collection of family traditions, my curiosity got the best of me. I did a little research on traditions other families keep alive. It didn’t take long to find some doozies. Consider these:
*  Listening to every “Alvin and the Chipmunks” Christmas album ever recorded while decorating the tree.
*  Having a friendly and spirited  “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest.
*  Hiding a glass pickle ornament somewhere in the tree.
*  Settling down on Christmas Eve to watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol” movie, while munching on bizarrely flavored popcorn, like maple syrup or curry powder. (Oh my.)
*  Actually decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, as was the custom once upon a time
*  When the sad day arrives to strip the tree and say good bye to Christmas for another year, dragging the bedraggled tree to the upstairs window of the living room and tossing it down onto the front lawn, an act that is then followed by sharing a riotous round of laughter.

We humans are certainly creatures of habit, aren’t we? But it is that very familiarity of rituals repeated year after year that gives us such treasured meaning, such significance. These repetitive actions and events represent our family history.  By providing a continuity that ties us to our foundations, we are comforted by our connection. To me, this is the very best tradition of all!

So, no matter how dated – or odd – your particular family traditions may seem, enjoy them and appreciate the fact that your family continues to embrace them.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)