‘Tis the season for unending days of tradition. We all have our certain ways of decorating, certain foods that are always made, cookies always baked, songs always sung, movies always watched.
We rely on our traditions to make us feel good. Have you ever sat late at night, in a quiet room, alone with the beautifully lit Christmas tree, and feel…, well, just comforted? It’s like every breath you take brings to mind another memory of Christmases gone by.
I can hear my mother and father setting up the toys under the tree when they thought we were sound asleep. I can feel again the excitement as I set up the toys for my children, anticipating their utter glee upon waking. Contentment fills my mind and emotions, as I recall every midnight Mass attended with my parents and siblings; I can still smell the incense of the High Mass and the candles in the sanctuary, hear the choir singing in the choir loft, and being part of that same choir in seventh grade. I still display my mother’s Nativity set (right next to her huge ceramic Christmas tree with little peg lights), reminding me always of the true reason we have this season, and hope rises within me a little stronger.
Every year we string tons of colored lights inside and outside the house, on every branch of our tree. One time someone snickered at my tree and said it looked like a “clown” tree with all of the colored lights, instead of just clear ones. Humbug, I say! If your traditional tree bears clear lights, I’m sure it’s beautiful! But so is mine! The beauty of each having their own traditional decorations is that there is no right or wrong, there is just joy! Unspeakable joy!
I am very melancholy this year, as I know some long-running Christmas traditions are coming to an end. We will probably sell our house this next year, thus ending the annual open house we host, the lights on this lovely home of ours, the fresh-cut tree tagged weeks before we pick it up.
The thing I think I will miss the most, though, is the family Christmas breakfast. I just love having all of my children and grandchildren together in the morning, reams of wrapping paper everywhere every colored light blazing. Lots of coffee, French toast, Dutch puff, and so much love! Everyone is happy, and together. I look forward to it every year, and will surely miss not being able to host it in this house. This house where we raised our children, and housed some others for a spell along the way.
Tradition. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s important. It sets our roots a little deeper, and gives each generation a sense of stability and belonging. The comfort zone of tradition gives us structure, boundaries, and even excuses.
The thing about observing traditions is that we take them with us forever. No matter where we are, we always will have the memories and the feelings they invoke. Throughout the years, our Christmas traditions have stuck, and everyone in the family feels the same as I, and someone else will pick up the baton. Even though I won’t be hosting the holiday festivities in this house, they will be hosted somewhere, and we will be there.
We aren’t sure where we will end up, Jim and I; most likely out of NJ. Where ever we are, I will string the colored lights, display the Nativity set and ceramic tree, and photos of Christmases past. I will breathe and take it all in, and I will remember every single Christmas of my life.
I will smile and give thanks to a mighty God, who sent His son to a manger, under a star. The one destined to die for the forgiveness of all sin, for the salvation of mankind. I will thank Him for a life well-blessed, and for Christmas. Then we will get into some mode of transportation and show up at one of the kids’ houses for Christmas breakfast! Traditions never die, they just change location, and I’m ok with that.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all I pray for many blessing throughout the New Year!
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2: 11-14 (KJV)