Christmas for me is a very personal time. It is filled with faith-affirming pauses and devoutly defended traditions. Some of these traditions are so rooted I’m not sure of their significance. Others were born from a need to survive the holidays with young children. Still others are flashes of inspiration, with some sticking, others… not.
As a child I remember Mom’s 33 1/3 LP of Bing Crosby’s Christmas. Christmas season started when his rich baritone filled the house with “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…”
My siblings and I decorated Christmas cookies made with old tin cookie cutters, some of which my mother brought from her home when she married. I still have a couple (they work SO much better than the plastic variety).
My dad read “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve (it’s Happy Christmas to all, people, not Merry!)
My brother and I always received an apple, orange, and walnuts in our stocking. I didn’t understand the significance until my mother explained a couple years ago. Her family was dirt poor, with a single mom raising seven children in the midst of the Great Depression. Those nuts and fruits were a treasured part of Christmas, a treat that wasn’t available year-round.
When my children were young, I instituted things like the no-one-gets-out-of-bed-until-dad-releases-you policy. At least it kept them contained until a reasonable hour… 6:00 a.m.
Or the ever popular, everyone-takes-a-turn-unwrapping-a-gift-one-at-a-time policy. Yeah, that one didn’t last long…
Christmas breakfast comprises the same thing every year. All things I make in advance and pop in the oven. Saves mom frantic/frazzle which they all agree is a good thing.
We have snack night on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And watch Princess Bride while ringing in the new year.
As my boys married, we’ve added new traditions.
With the first daughter-in-law, we started the big Nerf gun battle. Don’t read any deep meaning into that, I love my poised, beautiful daughter-in-law. AND she is a master at stratagem (did I mention the battle is boys against the girls?).
We started use-the-left-over-turkey-to-make-egg-rolls night. An inordinate number of our traditions seem to involve… food. Huh.
Cookie decorating sessions morphed into an epic battle of the bizarre, with light saber wielding angels and decapitated toy soldiers (don’t judge—I raised 5 boys & 1 girl).
These traditions reflect our family. And as our children start families of their own, they’ll take the traditions that work for them.
But I know for each of them the faith-affirming pauses will be at the heart of it all.