Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family Traditions: Christmas

I've been really thinking a lot about which family traditions I loved as a child and want to keep for my family, and which new ones I want to make a part of our future with Ethan and whoever else becomes a part of the Joel & Melanie clan. I want to make sure we have certain things that we do every year at the same time to honor and recognize special events, and that we can start doing daily or monthly rituals as well. I know that rituals are important: they help us make memories and connect to our family; they help us get through tough times and help generate a feeling of stability and security; they help us know ourselves better and build a sense of personal and family identity; and they can be silly, special, or sacred depending on the day. And I want them for my family!

Many of the rituals I remember from childhood are connected to holidays. At Christmas, for instance, we had several rituals we went through every year, or else it just wasn't Christmas. First, we lived in a desert and had an artificial tree. It was important to be able to have all of us put the tree parts together; green with green, red with red, and so on. And then we would decorate with all of our old, familiar ornaments, telling stories sometimes when we found our favorites. Then, on Christmas Eve, we would get to open one gift each, and all of the kids would go sleep in the same room. In the early morning when we awoke, we would find full stockings outside the bedroom door. Inside were gum, oranges, small toys, tiny books, snacks or chocolates, and other little gifts, just enough to keep us busy for another hour or two until my parents were ready to wake up and come downstairs. Once they were ready, we were allowed to go downstairs, where suddenly all of these presents appeared under the tree. One person usually ended up the designated "Santa" and brought people's gifts to them. After the flurry of opening presents, we would start preparing for our breakfast/brunch feast.

One thing I didn't like about Christmas was how blase we were about our multitude of gifts. We took so much for granted! In the book I'm reading, one family gives each child only three gifts, because that is how many baby Jesus got in the Bible. Interesting idea... they also make it a treasure hunt, with clues leading to more clues which lead eventually to the hiding place of the gift(s). I like that idea-- but for birthdays, not Christmas. I also liked the idea of getting everyone a new set of pajamas each Christmas. At least then they look good in the photos, right?

This is the book I have been reading:

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