I have been part of and enjoyed many traditions throughout my life, and they have all served me well… creating a sense of connectedness and comfort via familiarity and consistency. Traditions can be small, like sending out a few yearly cards, or grand, like annual Thanksgiving feasts, however ALL traditions are important. They are touchstones of life’s moments.
As life changes, traditions change.
As family members move away and jobs begin or end, I like to be able to look back at these moments… knowing that I can create new traditions that work with my life now.
I’d like to share one of my favorite childhood memories. I grew up with having the blessing of my grandmother living next door…and I loved it! She was amazing and made every holiday extra special for many years. Grandma was from Norway and had so many wonderful Norwegian traditions to share…and why not? … she had a very captive audience, me. Oh… and yes, my other family members too.
I knew that once Thanksgiving Day was over, the transformation of her sweet home into a winter wonderland palace would begin.
I was by grandma’s side all the way, as her eager assistant throughout the entire process. First, we would strategically place all of her fabled gnome statues throughout the house. It was a wonderful collection of so many colorful gnomes, all with unique postures, for example – one holding a bird, one laughing, one reading a book, and my personal favorite, one pushing a wheel barrel which I would fill with hard candies.
Then there was the stunning Christmas tree that was actually cut down from the adjacent woods next-door and we adorned it with handmade decorated cookies, beautiful European glass ornaments, and my great- grandfather’s handmade woodcarvings of barn animals, angels and birds. There were stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel with sweet little gifts inside, cut out snow flakes, fake snow on the windows, countless perfectly wrapped presents with precious name tags, and tins of deliciously home baked holiday cookies, to give away as gifts and to enjoy throughout the month. This set up took over a couple of weeks to complete and it was her pride and joy. Grandma did it all, and she did it all because she loved us and wanted us to feel a sense of wonder and beauty when we visited her, especially at this time of the year.
As time passed and I had my own family…
… my husband and I cultivated some of our own traditions.
Borrowing some from my childhood, and some from my husband’s…we created a new set of traditions that served to create (hopefully) joyful memories, and a positive context for pause and reflection.
One of our most treasured family holiday traditions was going over to my mother-in-law’s home for Christmas breakfast. The children, Alex and I would walk to her house and we could always anticipate fresh orange juice, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits and various jellies. We would open the gifts she had for us and the children would give her the gifts we got for her. Her home was small and cozy. After that we would go back to our house and continue the holiday with Canadian meat pies and a few choice Christmas movies (my favorite was National Velvet).
To date, our holiday traditions are in flux…
… a perfect paradox so to speak. That’s Okay. For no matter what, the gratitude we have for each other is consistent, and that perhaps is the best tradition of all.
We would to hear about your favorite traditions so please leave us a comment.
Thank you and happy beginning to the holiday season!
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By JEAN TREBEK
Jean is a Professional Religious Science Practitioner, Reiki Master and Sound Healer. She grew up on Long Island, NY, and now lives in Los Angeles. She has two wonderful adult children, Matthew and Emily, with her beloved late husband, Alex. Jean enjoys taking long walks, watching movies, and traveling. She is very grateful for her family, friends, Luna (the dog) and good coffee.
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One of our Christmas traditions is the Advent Calendar. We have had all kinds, but the joy of opening every little door for the chocolate behind it, or a draw to find a prize of some kind, has being going on for as long as I remember. I started it with my son when he was a child, and continue even today,as he is almost 30 and moved out of the house now, last year, I sent a little something for each day to him. And of course, sent him one of the German Advent Calendar with the little chocolate inside to remind him of home.
Advent calendars are the best…I love them too. That’s a great tradition, that lasts throughout most of December. Thanks for sharing. So much Love, Suz.
We always set up our Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend as well. My birthday is the next week, so my Dad, in particular, liked to have everything set up, so I had a “sort of” chance to have birthday separate from holiday. My stepmother was a cookie magician for several years, and I learned from her, as I helped. Snowballs, chocolate chip, different kinds of bars, Scottish shortbread from her family’s recipe with REAL butter (still my favorite), and even Divinity – a 2 person job and a TON of work, and SOOOooooo good.
To this day, I decorate on Thanksgiving, and sometimes even before.
I now make my infamous “Maddy’s Orgasmic Fudge” as gifts, though many this year prefer my Mystical Kale Chips, so may have to change my tradition. LOL!
With no children, I’m often by myself during the holidays actual day, so I find it a wonderful time for inner reflection.
As you pointed out, Jean, traditions evolve and change as our lives do, yet each moment is still so very precious, for it is moments of Life shared in Love.
Jean, how beautiful. I did not know you had Norwegian roots. I can relate to your story of Grandmothers and their desires to create a magical time. Must be part of the old European/Scandinavian roots. Both of my grandmothers put great attention to the season with many of the same type of decorations. I try to do the same here in California, but it’s not the same. Oh well, that’s OK too.
My grandmothers & mother always made time for lots of home cooking during holiday. So I will be making my efforts in that area for Thanksgiving. I will be cooking for 27, which is a small group compared to my childhood holidays. However, 27 in our living room will feel like a lot. Happy Holidays my friend.
As always, I love your article❣️ I started a tradition years ago for Hanukkah. One year Harry and David sold a Hanukkah box which included 8 small boxes. They filled each box with a pear or a wooden dreidel or a bag of chocolate gelt and other little treats. I sent each of my children this box while they were at college. I had them save the box for and I still refill each of those 8 little boxes every year but now I do it for my grandsons!
That is so special…you have the best ideas.
Lots of Love, Lynn.
Have fun cooking, Cheryl…and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and all you hold dear. Love always, Jean
I lost my husband of 60 years last year from pancreatic cancer the Holidays were difficult
but we got through it remembering all the good times we had together as a family.He loved it when all the grand kids and great grand babies would come those were the happy moments we remember.
Yes Jean, I remember the great times we had at Christmas ..Christmas Eve was very special…since the whole family lived on the same street it was extra special. I remember uncle Leo dressing as Santa Clause coming down the street with a sack of toys and goodies. Not to forget that a dog chased him down the street.lol my mom always made meat pies…”tourtiere” in French.,also homemade doughnuts..tons of them..all the adults would go to midnight mass..there are so many things to remember ..I’d have to call you. I’m sure Alex remembered a lot of them.. hugs and kisses ..call you soon.love Claire from Canada ????????