Holiday Traditions

Just one more day before the holiday season is officially begun. For most of us, at least in the United States, Thanksgiving Day is to the winter holiday season as Memorial Day is to the summer vacation season. That is, the traditional “opening day.” What are your family’s Thanksgiving traditions? Is it a time for feasting yourself into a food coma? (That happened a lot in our family over the years.)  Do you get together or reconnect somehow with family? Do you put up your Christmas decorations?  Do you gather around the TV to watch football, or some other favorite show? Do you carry on traditions passed down through generations? Do you know how they began, or by whom? How have your celebrations changed as your family has grown? Is it time to begin a new tradition?

For many years growing up, then as a mother myself, Thanksgiving was always about family and feasting. I have so many wonderful memories of those special days. Even though our family doesn’t get together as often, and the Thanksgiving feast has become much smaller, I have kept my most favorite traditions to bring in the holiday spirit. They include, making a special holiday breakfast and dinner, watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, listening to Christmas music, calling to speak with as many family members as possible, and watching my copy of the original Miracle on 34th Street. One of my favorite quotes from that movie is, “Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same – don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”  Some things never change.

Since family doesn’t come to our house for Christmas, I have stopped putting up a Christmas tree. A door wreath is decorated with a few select ornaments, instead. Then,  I begin setting out my collection of nativity sets, about forty now, I think. They remind me of the true meaning of Christmas and fill our home with hope, beauty, love, and peace. Each one has its own story to tell of how and why I acquired it, or where it came from, bringing back memories of events and people in my life. I am filled with the same mixed feelings of reverence and excitement that I used to get putting up our tree. Different, yet the same.

We all have Thanksgiving tales. Listen to the elders in your family tell some of theirs. Record their stories, as well as your own. Show your tale to the younger generation around you. Help them understand that while some things may change, many things stay the same.