All around the world, people have celebrated Christmas in their own way, forming and, sometimes, breaking tradition to make it new again.
My family traditions have changed over the years as well. When I was a child, we hung stockings by the fireplace and received oranges, nuts and candy canes on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, while we were in bed, “Grumpus” would come and rattle his chains, leaving lumps of coal if we were naughty.
Our family lived side-by-side on our farm, with my grandparents on one end, my aunt and uncle in the middle, and my parents’ home on the other end. We would all gather for Christmas Eve dinner on the farm. On Christmas morning, we opened our presents, then traveled to my other grandparents’ house for another huge family gathering with wonderfully delicious food.
My favorite tradition was decorating the tree with multi-colored bubble lights created to resemble candles (we used real candles when I was a baby), every color and shape of ornament you can imagine, and my favorite: the heavy, metallic strands of tinsel hung from branches to create the look of icicles.
My mother meticulously preserved the tinsel each year, storing it flat and wrapped in tissue for many years until the late 1950s, when synthetic, lightweight tinsel became popular. We hang plastic or glass icicles on our tree now, though the original Austrian tinsel is still made and sold today, if you know where to look.
While decorating the tree, we would also play Christmas music. My favorite song was “An Old Fashioned Tree” by Gene Autry. I had the old 78 rpm record of it until the late nineties, when I became divorced and lost a lot of “stuff.”
As an older child, I remember spending Christmas Eve with my mom. All the kids and grandkids came for dinner and to open their presents from grandma and grandpa. Then, each of them spent Christmas morning with their own families. I tried to keep up that tradition as my children grew up and had families of their own, but they have spread out, and we rarely get together as one big family anymore. I really miss that special family time.
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? When I lived in Tucson, I would attend Christmas services at my church. It hasn’t been the same since I moved to Las Vegas; and now I don’t drive. I miss those times, too.
Lucky and I hope you all have a glorious Christmas season, and keep the spirit of Christmas with you throughout the year in your thoughts, actions, and giving. God bless you all.