I have been thinking about traditions as Christmas approaches. I realized that my family has so traditions and memories surrounding Christmas. My goal is to make a mini-album of Christmas Traditions, but for now I will start by writing them out.
The ceramic Christmas tree goes up on Thanksgiving. It signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.
The ceramic NOEL letters have been a staple at my parents’ house for years during Christmas. They are usually set up on one of the bookcases. For years they mixed in with the other Christmas decorations until we saw an episode of Home Improvement. (Do you remember that show with Tim Allen?) The youngest son, Mark, was in a Christmas pageant with three other children. Each one had a letter on their shirts to spell out NOEL. When they lined up backwards, they spelled LEON. After getting a laugh out of the show, our letters became LEON. Someone would rearrange our letters to spell LEON and then someone else would arrange them back to NOEL. This goes on for weeks before Christmas.
Whether real or artificial, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece of our holiday decorations. I remember years of choosing the best live tree we could find and then bringing it home. Even with the added stress of checking the Christmas lights, and crooked trunks, the tree was always worth it. The debate of white or colored lights between Mom and Brendan went on for a few years. One resolution was to have two trees. The real tree stood in the living room with white lights and the artificial tree had a home in the family room with colored lights and the “kid” ornaments. Now there is less stress with the pre-lit tree, but it is still just as beautiful.
Each year Brendan and I were given a new Christmas ornament. The ornaments where marked so that when we moved out we could have our own ornaments to take along. In 2004, I took my collection and now Brendan is moving out in 2007.
Growing up, we put cookies out for Santa (and maybe carrots for the reindeer). One of my favorite times was those years when I stopped believing in Santa, but Brendan still believed. I would pretend to go to bed at the same time he did and then get up to help Mom and Dad set out some presents. I also got to help eat Santa’s cookies.
We would go to Christmas Eve service as a family at Northwest Christian Church. The service usually included the song We Three Kings. The problem was that my dad had taught us an alternative version of the song. Dad, Brendan and I would giggle a little during the song while Mom gave us dirty looks. The final song of the service was Silent Night and each person was given a candle. When Brendan was younger, we all watched him nervously with the lit candle, but the church never caught on fire.
A big part of Christmas for children is the magic. It is amazing how little things keep the magic going. When we decorated the Christmas tree, we did not put tinsel on it. When I woke up Christmas morning, there was tinsel on the tree. Santa put the tinsel on our tree. Even once we no longer believed in Santa Claus, we still waited until the night of Christmas Eve to put the tinsel on the tree. It keeps the magic of Christmas alive.