For instance, I serve the same meal on Thanksgiving that I grew up with, but after dinner, we bring down the Christmas tree and ornaments from the attic and decorate; something I didn’t grow up with. My parents didn’t put the tree up until about two weeks before Christmas. Admittedly, the last few years, as the kids have gotten older, we sometimes don’t get it all done on Thanksgiving, but it’s still our tradition. Also, the decorations we put out don’t vary much from year-to-year. We have a little gold tree that holds miniature ornaments; it goes on the entry table, nowhere else, smack in the middle. Maybe that’s not a tradition but, rather, OCD on my part, but for the sake of this post, I’m going with ‘tradition’.
I have two ceramic Christmas trees that go on either side of the TV. They’re the ones with the little plastic “bulbs” that go in holes in the tree, which is lit by a small light bulb. At some point, we lost the bulbs, so the trees stayed in the attic, but I found replacements a couple of years ago at Michael’s, so the trees are back. To me, it’s not Christmas without my two trees. Likewise, for years I put out one of those cool angel candle chimes - you know the one; the heat from the candles rises, hitting fins and making the angels spin around. The angels have little metal posts hanging from them that hit bells as they go around. I love these. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to mine, but they’re part of the tradition and will be replaced this year. And the candles in the windows always have to have orange bulbs. Santa never forgets to bring a little something for the pets every year, without fail. He leaves them after he has his milk and cookies and writes a note. This is one I got from my father, who went to the trouble of writing it with his left hand so we wouldn’t recognize his handwriting. I tried that, then I switched to writing the notes on the computer -with specially designed “Santa” stationery. Once the kids got wise to that, I went back to writing the note, but with my right hand. One year, I decided Santa might prefer one of those little glass bottles of Coke instead of milk, but it was a one-and-done. We went back to milk the next year. Which reminds me; every year, I buy a six-pack of Coke in glass bottles to be served with Christmas dinner, along with the sparkling cider.
The tree moves every year; some years it’s in one corner or another of the living room, and some years it’s in the living room window, but it always has the same angel on top, the same mix of colored and white lights, the same ornaments. It’s tradition. The meals are always the same, too: Turkey on Thanksgiving, a roast on Christmas, and ham on New Year’s Day, without fail. And New Year’s Eve is spent at home and has to include crackers, cheese (both real and “spray” - don’t judge), and sparkling cider for midnight toasting.
I plan to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade every year, without fail. Of course, I usually watch for about 7 seconds, decide it’s the most boring thing I’ve ever seen, and change the channel. In this case, it’s the plan that’s the tradition, I suppose.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve been going to my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, but when I was a kid, we visited both my grandmothers. When I got married, my wife and I continued this tradition until they passed. Then, for a couple of years, my aunt and uncle hosted. But, for at least the last twenty-some years, it’s been Christmas Eve at my brother’s. When my kids were small, I refused to take them out on Christmas Day, mainly because I never had to go anywhere when I was little. I just stayed home and played with all my new stuff and I wanted them to have the same experience. We see my parents on Christmas Eve at my brother’s and my in-laws have always come to our house on Christmas Day. “Gram” has passed, but my in-laws still come.
One tradition has fallen by the wayside, though; starting probably when my oldest was two, my wife and I would wrap presents on Christmas Eve, then put them under the tree. She also made up the stockings. She still does the stockings then, but the presents go under the tree ahead of time since we no longer have to worry about little ones “sneaking a peak”. After the presents were under the tree, I’d videotape the tree and all the gifts, saying things on the tape like, “Oh, it looks like Santa’s been here,” and “Wow, that’s a lot of presents! Somebody must have been very good this year.” Then, in the morning, I would go into the living room, turn on the video camera, and announce the kids’ names and say, “Come on down!” They would race into the living room, usually making it a point to slide across the floor. Stockings were always checked first, then the presents would be unwrapped. And there was always one “big” gift that was left unwrapped.
It will be interesting to see if any of these traditions are carried forward. I’m not sure, but I hope at least one or two will stick with the kids, and their kids.