I have to admit I get a little melancholy this time of year. Not because of any unhappy memories but rather a longing for what I miss. While I have tried to establish Christmas traditions of my own with my husband and children it has been a challenge.
For whatever reason, my husband and I haven’t been able to come up with any real family traditions to mesh with his background and mine. For years we have traveled to grandparents or had some sort of trip come so close on the heel of Christmas, we are so preoccupied with the details of traveling, that the actual celebration of Christmas has sometimes been lacking in my mind.
- The house decorated so tastefully and beautifully, Martha Stewart would be envious.- √
- Christmas cookies and candy made with love, and packed in holiday tins to distribute to neighbors, reserving enough to carry the family through New Years. - √
- Gifts purchased, (or even better made with love by my crafty hands and imagination), wrapped with real ribbons and bows, not the store-bought package of bows bought in bulk at Walgreen’s after-Christmas sale for 99¢. - √
- My children cooperate with all plans, offer to help and smile through it all. - √
- · My husband responds with “yes, dear” or “you are right, that is so much better” to all my suggestions.- √ (Hey, a girl can dream!)
In the end, and I repeat it over and over, it’s the thought that counts.
While growing up I remember my mother always decorated our home as if it were to be showcased in a magazine. This process was seemingly effortless, my mother has a knack for all things creative and crafty, tasteful and innovative and it showed every year in our home. Handmade wreaths (with real greenery) hung on the windows and front door while fresh flower arrangements adorned the dining room table.
For many years we had a “live” Christmas tree (with the ball wrapped in burlap) and my dad would plant it in our yard after the holidays. My dad, the engineer, always rigged the trees so they would stand perfectly tall and graceful.
We had a large living room with a cathedral ceiling so it wasn’t unusual for the tree to be quite tall. We always waited until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree. Probably because the live tree wouldn’t last for the entire month of December like you can do with artificial trees. Also, we kept our tree up after Christmas. While most homes had the tree down by New Year's Day we kept it up through the Twelve Days of Christmas. (The twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany, January 6th.)
Christmas Eve was a special day. We trimmed the tree, as a family. Then my mom (who was pretty darn close to a gourmet chef), would make a fondue dinner for us. We would sit around and enjoy the meal and afterwards we would play a family game.
We would disperse to finish last minute wrapping or rest, then gather again to go to Midnight mass together. Hearing the Christmas music, specifically "O Holy Night" sung so beautifully always brought the hope and joy of the season to my heart.
Each year my parents came up with a new idea for our Christmas card.
We had the same breakfast year-after-year, ½ a grapefruit, followed by scrambled eggs, Habbersett scrapple* and Philadelphia Sticky Buns.
I had to eat at least one spoonful of the scrambled eggs. Which believe me was a challenge only met by my desire to get to my presents!
Christmas morning was filled with love and laughter.
We had Christmas dinner with another family who like us had no relatives in town. We alternated years hosting the gathering. It was always a delicious dinner with lots of good conversation and laughter.
Without any warning the well-engineered mooring which held the very tall Christmas tree upright, failed and the Christmas tree came crashing down onto the hardwood floor. (Well, that wasn't so funny.)
The funny memory for me, was arriving home, walking into the living room and seeing my not-yet-my-husband-just started-dating-boyfriend standing there next to the tree, propping it up. Even at his 6’5” height he still had a lot of tree to hold onto. I’m not exactly clear on why he had to hold it up until we got home. I'm sure glad we didn’t run into a detour that afternoon.
I hope you have wonderful memories and may you create special new ones this year. Happy Holidays to you and your family!
* Scrapple, is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving.Scrapple is commonly considered an ethnic food of the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Mennonites and Amish.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Note: Originally posted 12/11/11