What’s in a tradition?
In my house, we’re realizing we don’t have a lot of traditions for Christmas like most families seem to. We don’t get the tree every year on the same day or keep it until a certain day for that matter. We’re flexible on that. We’re pretty flexible on a lot of things, in large part due to my oldest going to her dad’s one year and being home the next. Early on, as a new couple, we’d accommodate everyone and travel. Finally, we stopped hustling everyone into clothes and car, and learned to hang out in jammies and enjoy the day. If the oldest is home, that’s her preference too and if she’s not, she arrives the next day and we do it all over again. Which everyone, even the cats, think is great.
We don’t always eat the same foods. We did for a while, then one year it occurred to us to try something new. It was fun. Now we’re open to making whatever we want for Christmas dinner, we prepare a lot of it together and it’s usually something we rarely make. This year the ideas floating around are beef stew, (I’ve no idea why that is so popular now), home made fish and chips (I’ve found the most awesome recipe), and we rarely make it in part because it’s so messy to cook, and it’s so unhealthy to eat. No one likes turkey. They always want a potato side dish, I bake some bread, and some kind of dessert, whatever gets the most votes.
The only thing we do, is be together and give gifts. I read A Christmas Carol and a play a variety of holiday films throughout the month. Elf is a favorite. My oldest used to call “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the George and Mary show. I love the magic that Frank Capra created with that film.
We have two kid’s with birthdays the first week of December, followed by my mom’s five days after. As the county and economy has seen the need to slowly chip away at our income and raise the cost of the medical benefits we enjoy, we’ve gotten rid of sending cards. Instead we donate the money we’d normally spend on cards and stamps to a favorite charity. It’s not much, but I know every little bit helps. Overall, everything is less lavish, but that hardly matters.
When I was a kid, there would always be an orange in our stocking, I continue to do that, even though no one eats them the way they dig into say, a box of Inside Out Junior MInts, or a candy cane. I know historically, oranges were a rare treat and so, I like keeping that tradition alive, even though we live in California with orange groves not too far from our house.
Last year we got the tree the week before Christmas, it was payday, it was dark and it was raining. The kids wanted to go anyway, we’d waited for birthdays to be over, and rain or no, it was time! They had on rain boots, coats and gloves, and it was an adventure. They loved it! There was puddle stomping Ramona Quimby style, wonderful smelling trees and we were the only shoppers. The sales people loved us for braving the elements and sold us a heck of a tree for cheap. Then they happily tied it to our van in the pouring rain. Back home we had hot cocoa while decorating our super huge tree with cherished ornaments. I hope I never forget that night. Or that the kids don’t care so much how Christmas should look, but instead want fun memories, and for us to play with them or cheer them on as they do battles playing the Legend of Zelda. And to watch the two cats romp in the tissue paper and gift bags. I love my life.