What is it about Tradition that helps make the holidays so special? Tevye sang of it in his opening sequence from Fiddler on the Roof. Obviously, there are the non-secular traditions many people follow. But what I'm more interested in is the secular ones. The personal ones. The ones you carry from your childhood and will (or are) passing down to your family.
From the time we found out we were pregnant to now, I've heard arguments on both sides regarding Santa. Both Steve and I grew up with Santa, and I remember fondly getting presents not only from Santa, but also from Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, and various elves. We've pondered the arguments against the use of Santa but find ourselves having a lot of fun with the concept. Syd isn't a huge fan of the "sitting on the lap" aspect, so instead, we've begun writing letters and mailing them. This is one concept has started several traditions for us:
- The writing of the letter to Santa (this year, Mommy wrote the letter and Syd decorated it with his drawings) and the subsequent mailing of it in the Macy's mailbox, so we can also help the Make a Wish Foundation.
- The special plate and mug that we only use one night a year, to set out snacks for Santa and his reindeer.
- The use of completely separate wrapping paper to indicate which presents were from Santa and which were from Mommy and Daddy.
- Of course, the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas at bedtime after we put on our
- Brand New Christmas Pajamas!! This isn't really Santa related, but it is so much fun! And this year's pajamas had Santa on them, so it fits.
- An old German Tradition - Saint Nick. I grew up with Saint Nick. Prior to Syd coming along, Steve and I tried to use Saint Nick, but it was difficult to make it as special. Now, having a little one stumble upon a toy left out the night of December 7th and telling him Santa came to check and make sure he was being a good boy makes it so much more fun. As he gets older, we'll actually incorporate setting his shoes outside his bedroom door, as the tradition dictates (the small gift is left in his shoes, not under the tree, etc.).
The season is riddled with traditions. Some are born with having a child, some are thrust upon us, and some we deliberately begin. Other traditions that we follow this time of year are:
- The dinner out and nighttime drive to the Elk's National Home to view their beautiful, extravagant holiday light display. This year, we incorporated doughnut holes after dinner. And we thankfully went during the week (last day of school!) so the crowd was far less than on the weekend. This simply means we got to drive through it twice without putting anyone else out.
- Dinner and family time with PawPaw a few days before Christmas. The cousins had a fabulous time playing with each other and visiting was so nice.
- Christmas Eve at Meemaw's house. The opposite side of the family is huge, and the Happy Chaos is necessary to make it feel like the holidays. Musical chairs are accidentally played, as anyone who gets up loses his or her seat. Food spills over off of every surface. And the sounds of laughter are plenty and varied. It is one of those lovely occasions where you have to open the doors, regardless of temperature, to bring in fresh air because the sheer mass of bodies gets rather warm.
- A quiet morning at home with breakfast and opening our gifts, then lunch at Nanny's house and more gifts, more family, more visiting, more laughter, more. And subsequently, after we get home and Syd is in a holiday coma, he snoozes, contentedly.
- The evening is filled with a quiet dinner at home and playing with toys, games, and music.
Holidays leave us with plenty of room for growth in terms of traditions. Tradition allows us to think the chaos has some sort of order as well as reminds us how special family and friends are, and how important they are to use year round, not just during certain occasions. Steve and I are happy to consider ideas for other traditions we want to instill in our lives, but it ultimately comes down to family. May your holidays, and every day, be rich with family, love, and laughter, and the traditions that help make them all so memorable.