Christmas Traditions — to me this sounds lofty, idealistic, thoughtful. There are traditions and memories from my childhood that I still strive to maintain. Having an advent calendar, putting the tree up to be enjoyed the entire month of December, my ornament that is a half walnut shell with a tiny nativity scene inside, Grandma Nadine’s ceramic tree. I also continue to make certain foods for my family (though I am much more circumspect about consuming large quantities myself any more). Homemade salami, white chocolate bark with pretzels and peanuts, homemade ham salad, and sugar cookies are a must. Watching certain programs – White Christmas, Christmas Story, Rudolph, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and at least two cheesy Lifetime movies. Drinking Millstone Peppermint Stick Coffee. These mean the holidays to me.
But, this year has awakened a new revelation in me and one I hope I can pass on to parents of younger children. You are establishing Christmas traditions and memories without even trying.
My children ages 18 and 12 have proven to me this year. I did not realize that by hosting a couple tree decorating parties for my husband’s work study students through the years, I established the tradition that we MUST have homemade cookies and mulled cider to decorate the house. It is also a MUST that I buy cranberry flavored ginger ale for the Sigman Christmas party that is always at our house. And, the girls’ stockings cannot hang on just any hook or any way. Each of them has preferred side of the doorway. (We don’t have a chimney so they are hung on either side of the passage from the dining room to the living room.
All of these things were done in all innocence and without thought to establishing memories and traditions. I was living in the moment and doing what was fun and important to me. But, what I have discovered is I have made an indelible mark on the girls and these are traditions they may continue or modify as the grow and move away from home.
One other tradition that was started by my mom and dad for me, and Greg and I have continued with the girls is to buy a special ornament for each of them every year. Some years they end up getting way more than just one. When I got married, and moved out of my mom’s house, my ornaments came to me and now, year after year, get placed on the big tree in the living room. As I have gazed at the tree this year, I realized we may only have this many ornaments for a few more years. Sarah is already in college and will probably move out in the next few years. She will get her ornaments to take with her and continue to enjoy them in her own house with her own traditions.
One tradition I miss is driving around looking at Christmas lights. For some reason, my children do NOT enjoy this the way we did when I was a kid. But, maybe someday I will have grandchildren who will want to go with Grandma to do that.
Whatever you are doing in love with your children, is making an impression and creating memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy the process, don’t try to hard – you don’t have to – it is all important to a child.
Don’t forget to listen to music, dance around the kitchen and read a book.