Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas Traditions

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

Actually, it’s been looking like Christmas since Hallowe’en. I think it’s a time and efficiency thing the stores do. They have a space allocated to seasonal items, and rather than fill that space with other retail goods they’ll have to move later, they just move directly from one holiday to the next.

Summer items give way to fall and Thanksgiving, then to Hallowe’en, and on to Christmas. I’m sure once this holiday is over it will be Valentine’s Day and Easter not long after. It’s a cycle that continually repeats itself.

I love Christmas, but please, it doesn’t need to start until December.

A Susan Branch Christmas Tree
Like decorating the tree. I know people who do it in November, anxious for the holiday season to begin. I always liked to make it a celebration, the trimming of the tree. It was one of the traditions I made with my kids. We’d have some snacks; drinks served in fancy glasses and decorate the tree together.

I find it sad, decorating the tree by myself, which is probably why I haven’t had a tree in years. But I do miss the ambiance of sitting in my favourite chair, with a glass of wine, reading or watching movies by the glow of a twinkling Christmas tree.
Speaking of Christmas movies, my father and I had a tradition of watching Going My Way every year. It’s an old black and white movie from the forties, starring Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley, the same character he played in The Bells of St, Mary’s.

We also used to watch Holiday Inn but you don’t see it offered on television anymore. It’s old; it’s in black and white, and is politically incorrect.

I used to force the kids to watch White Christmas with me every year, another of our traditional holiday celebrations. At least it’s been retouched and in colour, the concept of watching black and white so unappealing to the kids.

Another excuse for a party was gift wrapping. We would gather all the paper, tape and tags, all the gifts we’d purchased and sit at the table, with the ever present snacks, to wrap our gifts.

I was big on all these month long traditions because, after their father and I divorced, I never saw my kids on Christmas Day. In the beginning, it was because I had to work, but that was really just an excuse so the kids didn’t feel bad for going to their Dad’s, and his family’s place for the holiday.

I couldn’t blame them; for it was what we had always done before. The food was great, there were aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents…family, and that’s what the holiday was all about. The kids still talk about playing bingo after dinner, and the silly little prizes their grandmother put together for any winners.

With the kids gone for the actual day, we made it a point to celebrate New Year’s, and made going out for Chinese food our tradition. The first time, we went to a nice restaurant, a big step up from any fast food or family style place we’d ever been to before.

I warned the kids that once we ordered we’d have to wait, so they needed to be patient. Our order was in and we were just sitting there when my son got up from the table, came over to me and placed his hand on my shoulder, looking me square in the eye.

“So, Mom, what would you like to talk about?” What a kid.

I’m feeling nostalgic, thinking of all these old traditions, and miss that feeling of anticipation and togetherness, making the everyday into a special occasion.

The kids are grown, with families of their own, with their own traditions. And that is as it should be.

I’ve made myself a new Christmas tradition. I buy myself a new book by one of my favourite authors, and save it until Christmas night. Then I put on some music, pour myself a glass of wine, and snuggle in with my velour blanket, all warm and cozy. I turn to page one, and read to my heart’s content.

It works for me.

1 comment:

Blogger's Brother said...

One thing I think needs to be mentioned as a follow up to your story. I imagine, over the years, there have been many grateful people that didn't have to work on Christmas Day because you said you would. This allowed them to spend Christmas with their families and I'm sure many had small children.

Since your situation was that your kids were off with their dad, you did the next best thing and made Christmas better for others. And for that I'm very proud of you!