Saturday, December 5, 2009


Do you have family traditions you remember from being young? Things you may or may not do now?

When I was a kid we had a few. See, my mom was a history buff and she had a passion for learning about traditions from around the world. Did you know that Christmas trees are a German thing? Caroling started when people would come down from the mountains in Europe for Christmas services, holding lanterns high and singing. They would stop on the way and pick people up as they made their way to the church. On the night of December 5th, St Nick travels throughout European countries and checks on kids and their behavior, leaving gifts and treats. Advent calendars count down the days from the 1st to the 25th, little gifts or treats behind doors you opened after a story, a way of following Mary and Joseph as the traveled to Bethlehem. We had traditions that Mom used to teach us about Christmas and why it was important and she taught us where they came from.

So many of the things we do at Christmas have deep meanings, but people often forget why, focusing on the perfect gift, the most gifts, the best decorated house and so on. And that happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves about the holidays.... you go shopping at Halloween and there's already at least one isle dedicated to Christmas. Four weeks separate Halloween and Black Friday and that one isle grows almost daily, so that by the time you reach the week of Thanksgiving, any trace of a fall holiday is wiped out by winter. Commercials start near November 1 and the kids' wish list grows with the number of toy commercials they see.

And we forget. So the traditions become less important and less meaningful. And we begin to focus instead on "the best (fill in the blank)."

Last year, I wrote a poem about this. Even though it's always been a pet peeve of mine, I found myself falling into that mindset because I had been trapped at home by the weather, and the closer Christmas got, the more I worried about there being no gifts. (You can see that poem here: Twas a Week Before Christmas.)

This year, I decided I was going to make sure I didn't get that down and dragged into the hunt for "the best.....". Especially since we really can't afford a lot for those extras this year due to Matt's job change. We're going to focus on family traditions. What are some you remember? Do you remember one you haven't done since you were little? Go on.... Do it! Remember. And celebrate the real reason for Christmas this year. Don't have any you want to remember? Then start new ones!


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