Friday, December 19, 2014

Enjoying Christmas Traditions

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D

I really do like the Holiday season—the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas to the New Year.  It is a time for reflection but also of deep sentimentality of a bygone era.  Many of the traditions in my family are just that—traditions that have been passed on from each generation to the next.  While each family has their own time honored tradition, I wanted to share a few of mine.

Each year, as a family we decorate the house.  Over the years, as new additions are made it seems as though my house is bursting with decorations from the new to the sentimental to the gotta have items.  When it comes to decorating, we have made it into a tradition—we do it as a family.  My husband and girls decorate the tree, which can be an all day event.  While I love the smell of  a real tree, my daughters allergies and asthma have made having one impossible.  So, our tradition is decorating the tree, not picking one out.  While we decorate the house, the holiday music is playing and the girls enjoy opening the boxes that store their ornaments and picking just the right spot on the tree to hang them. We usually finish the day by watching Christmas specials like Charlie Brown and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Another holiday tradition is getting in the car and riding around to look at all the decorated houses and the various light displays.  Growing up there was a house in the neighborhood that would go all out in decorating.  On Christmas Eve they would even hand out candy canes to the cars that drove by.  I always thought how awesome it was and how great the people were who had created such wonderful memories for the community.  Although I have never decorated the outside of my house with anything other than a wreath on the front door, I do enjoy the fact that others decorate.  For us, it is simply great fun driving around as a family talking about the lights and debating which house was the best.

We also love giving a traditional gift.  In another blog, I wrote about some of my most cherished gifts which are not store bought presents but rather those that were hand made.  I have tried to make sure my girls have at least one thoughtful, keep forever gift.  When my oldest daughter was little, we began the tradition of an ornament in her stocking.  It has grown into each of us receiving an ornament in the stocking.  Some have been handmade but most are store bought.  No matter the origin, each reflect the personality of the recipient.  When you look at our tree, it is easy to associate each person with an ornament. Even though we each know that an ornament will be in the stocking, it is still great fun to see what the ornament will be.

Just like many families, food is a great tradition in my family.  We can cook, bake and eat for days.  The Christmas dinner spread alone can send us into a food coma for days.  One item we look forward to making each year is the traditional gingerbread house.  Simply put, we lo  Although they will never win an award for construction or beauty, it is great fun making them.  We also bake a variety of goodies, especially cookies.  Again, they might not look like anything Martha Stewart would serve, but the point is the fun of doing them together.  For years, I would bake so much that I would give it as presents for colleagues and family members.  I always wanted to make sure people had plenty to eat.  Come to our house during the holiday season and you will be greeted by the holiday smells emanating from our kitchen.

So, these are some of my most cherished and sentimental Christmas traditions.  What are yours?

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