The first Christmas after I moved away from my childhood home to attend college I return to find the house with no Christmas decorations, no tree, nothing to show the holiday’s were approaching. By all standards I was considered an adult now and should have been too cool for childish Christmas drawings I made when I was 9. Being a college student, I was not far to busy for the silliness of tree decorating. Baking cookies, well I was way to important for that. Wasn’t I?
I wanted the decorations, the tree and all the festivities. It was Christmas after all. Even thought I felt very self important and independent at that time of my life. Returning to my home at Christmas was like remembering who I really was. To see my parents no longer felt the need to decorate made the whole season feel like just another day.
This was around the time my father was starting to have serious health problems and I know they just we’re not in a Christmas-y state of mind then. So I took it upon myself to decorate for them. I went into the garage and brought in all the boxes. Each item I pulled out had memory attached. The handmade ornaments, the arts and crafts decorations and the ancient puzzle-like artificial Christmas tree, we went through each recalling past Christmases.
Nothing fancy just family
One if the things I loved the most about our house at Christmas was that we never had fancy store bought decorations. My parents worked hard but we were far from wealthy. Our decorations were mostly arts and crafts, or repurposed items. My dad had started the tradition of stringing Christmas cards across the ceiling of our house.
Each year we would read through these cards and remember people from years past, like the big tipper on my paper route when I was 12, old neighbors that moved, family who had passed away. Their memory was preserved in their own hand-writing through these cards. The Christmas wishes and good sentiment were revisited every year as we placed another card upon the string. This very act of stringing the cards created the feeling of Christmas for me.
Fast forward to Christmas this year
I have children of my own, a new easier to assemble Christmas tree, bright store bought decorations. We have created some new holiday traditions, We stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas Day and play. Also we started collecting year ornaments from each year my and my husband have been together.
But many of my families holiday traditions live on, like handmade decorations and stringing holiday cards. This tradition has become even more special. It is the digital age and each year the amount of handwritten cards dwindles. Instead we receive e-cards or non folded printed picture cards while they are nice, a true hand-written Christmas card is a lot harder to come by.
Thankfully, I have saved cards since before my husband and I were married. Just like me and my parents did, my husband and I recall people we worked with, grandparents that are no longer with us and friends who moved away, as we string these cards.
My dad has since passed away as well but when we string our cards I always explain that this was a traditions my father started. When my mother comes over and see’s the cards I know she is not thinking of spending another Christmas without him. She knows he is here with us through these traditions.
What are your holiday traditions? What feelings do they create in you? Have you started any new traditions for your family?