I love the Christmas season. It is the one and only time of year where the world stops(well, in a rushed excited kind of way) and comes together in unison. For weeks we revel in the glow of twinkling lights and warm fires burning. We collectively pull out our best decorations and festively join our neighbours in lighting up the streets, our homes and our workplaces. Everywhere you go songs of the season and Carols announcing the birth of the Saviour ring out. There is nothing politically correct about Christmas and for that I am so thankful.
It is during this time, leading up to the 25th of December, that I have sudden memory bursts of Christmases past that influence everything from decorating to gift giving. Do you ever wonder why you do the things you do at Christmas? It’s traditions!! We all have them; passed on down from our parents and their parents. But we add or we tweak. We accommodate our own family and if we’re married then our spouse factors into the equation too. I don’t think it really matters why we do some things the way we do them. I think the memories we’re creating are far more important. There are some things we’ve just come to expect at Christmas time and that’s okay. That’s what makes it personal to us and for us.
As I go about my preparations I find that the layers of tradition come naturally and I add to them each year. It’s why we all get so nostalgic and why we love this season so much.
Here’s some of the little things I do that make my family feel like “Christmas” has arrived and a few of the memories of traditions and moments in the past:
- I start out on November 1st with Amy Grant’s Christmas Album from 1984. It has been and always will be my number 1 choice for getting in the mood. “Tennessee Christmas” up first!
- I think the tree should be up at least 4 weeks before Christmas but often it’s up 6 weeks before in my house! It makes the house cozy and pretty. When you live in the cold wintery land like I do you need all the help you can get for getting through the dark days of winter.
- Shortbread cookies, mincemeat tarts, decorated sugar cookies are a must. I don’t really care how many calories they are~ it’s just not Christmas without them.
- My kids all get a new battery operated toothbrush in their stockings. I don’t remember when we started this but it always seemed like a good idea for them to get a new brush at Christmas. With all the germs floating around and the candy, it just seems like a practical idea. And boy, do my kids look for that!! They’ve come to expect it! My mom used to do something similar. Because we’d travel nearly every Christmas she would always buy us those pre-packaged travel packs of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoos, etc. I don’t think you can find those anymore because travel sized items are standard in every department store,but we always loved getting those “goody packs”.
- Attending a Christmas concert or two. How I miss the days of attending church with my little kids all dressed up singing Away in a Manger or Jingle Bells. So many churches don’t do that anymore and it’s so sad. I miss the excitement of dressing everyone up and meeting with friends as we all clamor for the best photo op. And what would a concert be without the brown paper bag full of peanuts and oranges and candies? !!
- “Silver Bells” playing over the mall sound systems while you shop. Is there any more appropriate song for shopping? I think not!
- The Phipps Family version of Silent Night. I feel so bad for 99.999999% of the world’s population who’ve never heard this. Think back-woods Kentucky hillbilly family singing 3 part bluegrass harmony. My parents had the RECORD and we played it over and over and over again when I grew up. I sure miss that.
- The colouring pictures that my mother traced each Christmas onto fresh white paper for us to colour. The repeated drawing over the lines caused the outline to be worn right through but we continued to use them. I have the originals in my possession and they are priceless treasures. 2 are snowmen and 1 is a candle lit with holly leaves around it.
- Ham dinner with creamed corn and baked potatoes~ our annual Christmas Eve dinner served after the days’ chores and before the opening of presents……yes, on Christmas Eve!
- The telling of the Nativity Story….gathered around the tree, by candlelight. My dad would read it from his Bible and then in later years, my mom. Sometimes if we were with extended family it would be Grandpa or and uncle or aunt, but always the most important part of the day…followed by the singing of Silent Night.
Whatever your traditions, wherever you are…..soak them in and teach your kids to value each and every priceless moment of the season.