No matter what you celebrate: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and of course, New Years… there’s usually tradition(s) that come along with it. Rituals are a way for us to celebrate but also, I believe, to feel connected to one another or to the occasion. And it’s not solely slated for this time of year. Sports carry some ritualistic behavior, especially in Philly. We wear that specific jersey or t-shirt that will definitely lead our team to victory (not proven…again…especially in Philly). We have pub crawls around St. Patrick’s day. There’s fireworks for the Fourth of July. And of course, the weekends or vacations “down the shore” for many families are a big part of our culture. We love our traditions.
Since I was a kid, my family has been rich in traditions, especially around the holidays, Christmas in particular for this writer. Some of those traditions have carried on into my adulthood and have been passed down in one form or another. Some have fallen to the wayside. We’ve also created some new ones of our own. As a kid, there was leaving cookies out for Santa, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, seeing the light show at, then Wanamaker’s department store, and making homemade cookies. Two of those four have gone into the history books for us: no more cookies for Santa since our son is grown… decorating the tree on Christmas Eve has been bumped up a couple of weeks since we have a party every year that and we like the tree to be decorated in advance…the light show is on occasion but not every year, but the cookie making every year has remained in tact. We spend every Christmas Eve with the family and used to spend Christmas Day running to visit every family member we could. The latter was stopped once my son was a toddler and we wanted to stay home to enjoy the peace of the day and so he could enjoy the presents Santa had left for him. We created our own tradition of having a Christmas party every year and this year marked 26 Christmases and it is one of our favorite days of the year. When we first began that annual event, my husband and I were young and had nothing in the way of ornaments. So it became a tree trimming party. All of our friends and family each brought an ornament to help that young couple out and the tree (to this day) is everyone’s tree, no matter what faith they are. After a few years though, the ornaments outweighed the tree and that tradition ended. However, there are still people that love that tradition and still bring an ornament each year, some even sending them from afar to stay apart of the festivity. There will always be room on the tree for those. Each year that we take those keepsakes out, we remember who gave it to us and it brings a smile to our faces. This year, a couple friends decided to plant ornaments throughout our home, anonymously (that mystery has since been solved), with notes on the back. One saying “bringing back traditions”. And that just confirmed to me how important or comforting a tradition can be. It’s something you can rely on. Something you can be a part of. Something to make you feel one with someone or something. Sometimes they fizzle out and I think that’s ok too. It doesn’t mean we’ve lost sentimentality or appreciation. It’s just run its course to maybe make room for a new one.
This year will end in other traditions for me: time with family, a concert and New Year’s Eve with friends, and likely, New Year’s Day at the parade. I’ll probably complain about how wiped out I am, how busy I am, but don’t be fooled…I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We asked for your traditions past or present. Below are some of those that shared. We’d also love to hear from you. Why are traditions so important and what rituals do you have? Last but not least, Michelle and I wish you a very happy holiday season and a healthy new year. Thank you for reading!
*Me and hubby stay home and have nice dinner and chill.
*I don’t have any. I always make it up as I go along.
*Getting the Christmas tree on December 15th, my son Nick’s birthday. He picks out which one to get.
*We decorate our tree every year on Christmas Eve. I’m not sure about this year because I’m working second shift.
*I started one this year. Leaving ornaments in inappropriate places.
*My daughter Angela always made Christmas decorations thru the years in school, we still have them all. My son Dave made one. I call it the Christmas Moose. It’s a toilet paper roll with antlers. He tops the tree with it, every year.
*My tradition is the same as it was last year — my mom makes my grandmoms meat pie for Christmas dinner. Only time all year we get that.
*When I was younger, all the my uncles and aunts, myself, dad, mom, sister and cousins gathered in a different house each year to spend Christmas time and eat dinner too. My dad is the oldest of four brothers… and there are nine cousins which include my sister and I. Also, on New Year’s Day, when we were younger, we went to my grandparents house (my dad’s parents). My grandpop set up a toy bowling set and each of the kids bowled. As we grew oldert, we played pinochle, which our grandparents taught us how to play as well.
*We watched Christmas vacation on Christmas Eve because…duh! Growing up we also always had a sister sleepover. Now we just try to be in the same house for Christmas eve night into Christmas morning.
*I started a fun thing with my daughter, Morgan, when she was little. She always got a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve (for the photo op the next morning, lol). I had this little mid-century Santa figure I loved, so I put it on the Xmas tree and pointed it out to her, then while she was taking her nightly bath, I would take the “pajama elf” off the tree and put it away, put the new pajamas under the tree and sprinkle some “pajama elf dust” (a little glitter) around them. She loved it! So did I….sigh!
*Every year we get together on the first night of Chanukah (provided it falls before Christmas), light the menorah, eat and then decorate our Christmas tree. (lol) Interfaith family holiday traditions.
*My mom’s not the best cook…except on Christmas morning. She makes us a feast of a five meat breakfast along with a huge cheese omelet, home fries & pancakes fried in butter so the edges are crispy. We joke that her way of saying I love you is, “here, eat this. Calories don’t count when it’s made with love”.