December seems to be a whirlwind month. No sooner than the Halloween decorations are on sale in the craft stores, their aisles are filled with seasonal trimmings and we are immersed in the holidays. Thanksgiving seems to be less relevant and all the emphasis is on Christmas.
But it’s a time of the year I love. There are so many traditions that families honor and hearing about these are wonderful.
Christmas trees for example. Many homes now celebrate with more than one tree and since artificial trees are easier to keep year after year, it’s fun to have different trees in various rooms in the house. Tree toppers are not necessarily reserved to angels and stars. You never know what you’ll find adorning some trees. Someone’s home I recently visited used teddy bears atop their tree. Some years I use a Santa, a big bow with cascading ribbons or even sparkly beaded picks.
This year I have three separate trees; one with my collection of vintage ornaments, one with vacation souvenirs and family ornaments and one with mini ones. My trees combine my vintage collection of decorations along with souvenir ornaments from across the world. I love putting these on the trees as they bring back memories of my trips. Many decorations have been collected from the locations where we’ve held our ANIs. I also collect dated ornaments; my oldest one is a ceramic soldier from 1979!
Whenever I see a family car heading down the highway with their tree safely secured on the roof, it makes me smile thinking about how their house will be filled the smell of pine that only a live tree offers. I’m grateful to not have to worry about that, but certainly miss the ambiance of a live tree. My dogs and cats won’t be as interested in the artificial trees.
I have collected Santa figurines over the years as well as carved and hand painted Santas from Russia. I love taking them out and enjoying them while usually adding one or two new ones to the group. Their outfits are so elegant and festive.
Do your children still believe in Santa? It seems to be a tradition that endures regardless how old children are. At our home, there are always packages under the tree Christmas morning delivered by the man in red.
Our neighborhood used to have a cookie exchange and it’s a tradition I’m sorry was lost when one of the organizers moved away. This party meant we had a great variety of cookies to enjoy that I didn’t need to bake. Some of the ladies were incredible bakers and put mine to shame. We still have a neighborhood holiday party and it’s one of the many things I think makes our neighborhood such a special place to live.
My book group also has a holiday party. We wear “ugly Christmas sweaters” and read a special book related to December and one of the ladies always hosts the December group and serves delicious holiday cookies. I had suggested John Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas” about a family who decides to skip Christmas without realizing the consequences but it was vetoed. The movie “Christmas with the Kranks” is based on the book and is always fun to watch during the holidays when you think things may have gotten out of hand. My favorite holiday movie is “Elf” with Will Farrell.
For many years my family struggled with having the holiday dinner on Christmas Day. No sooner than the gift wrapping was cleared, we were busy in the kitchen and not able to enjoy a leisurely time opening and enjoying our new gifts. A light went off one year when we realized we could have the family dinner on Christmas Eve. I think it’s important that some traditions be honored while others can be adapted. At our home it means Christmas Day is celebrated with a delicious brunch and later we have leftovers from Christmas Eve which no one seems to mind. This works for our family but I’m sure some people would be aghast.
Washington DC is ablaze in lights and it’s always fun to set aside some time to do family sightseeing to look at the Christmas lights and decorations both in the neighborhood and then venturing into DC one evening. My mother told me about a neighborhood in her area of Southwest Florida that the entire gated community decorates their homes and streets. They then open the community each night and people wind their way around the community to see all of the homes’ light displays. It’s become a tradition for many families to make sure they have an evening set aside for a drive through Victoria Park. I’m sure there are other communities elsewhere in the county that does the same.
I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. Enjoy your traditions and make room for new ones too. However you celebrate, enjoy this special time of the year.