Wrapping presents while listening to Christmas Carols with the tree lights and maybe a Santa watching me work, is one of my favorite holiday traditions. The tree cannot be trimmed without carols in the background. Cookies cannot be baked and presents cannot be wrapped without holiday music. There has to be something peppermint, something that imparts the smell of cinnamon and of course cookies shaped like trees and bells. I love the mess of wrapping paper, ribbons and tags. I love all the preparation and anticipation of the holidays. Since my kids are grown up and have families of their own, it is not my kitchen or my tree that is the center of the festivities anymore. I miss that. John and I are working out our own traditions and ways of celebrating. It sometimes requires us to travel great distances during the holidays and means that we have more than one "Christmas". We celebrate with my middle son's family in Ohio, my daughter's family in Nevada, John's family in CA and also my brothers in CA. My oldest son's family has their own traditions. Miss him too. It is hectic, but lots of fun. It also opens my eyes to traditions that are a little different than the ones I had as a child and as a young mom.
When I was growing up, the family was large with many aunts, uncles and cousins. Trees were buried under the mounds of presents. There were dozens of dessert platters, lots of food, maybe skits that my aunt and uncle would do and one magical Christmas Santa visited our Christmas Eve party. I was three or four and I believed I even saw his reindeer.
We moved away from this big family when my kids were young and had to start new traditions. We had Christmas tree parties with other families where we all converged on a Christmas tree farm, cut our trees and met back at our house for a big party. We joined other families for a caroling party every year, We went into New York City on Christmas day to see the 5th Ave store windows, the lights, the tree and the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center and finished up with a big Italian dinner at Mama Leone's because it was the only place open in the city.
Traditions change and adapt as we move through our lives. Sometimes we only appreciate them in hindsight. I love the comfort of old traditions, but I also love the freshness of the new ones. My daughter carries out many of the traditions handed down to me from my mom and now they are hers. I like that too.
What are your favorites?