We all have traditions we celebrate over the holidays, right? Some are cherished family rituals handed down from one generation to the next. And others, unfortunately, are like bad kitchen smells–lingering year after year for no good reason or because nobody wants to get into a verbal brawl about ditching them. We certainly had a few of those in my family when I was growing up.
For instance, my mother hated cooking turkey, mostly because we always had at least sixteen people or more for Christmas dinner and it was a complicated and messy meal to cook. But my dad loved turkey for the holidays, so my mother suffered–not in silence–most years to put on the big bird feed. But one memorable year, Mom and Dad got into a verbal tussle over the damn thing, which almost ended with the turkey and roasting pan sailing into a snowbank in the back yard. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to crack open a few more bottles of champagne and we eventually managed to get dinner on the table. But it was a close call and the following year my father willingly opted for a Christmas ham instead of the bird.
Then there was the relative who insisted on preparing the appetizer and first course EVERY year, and EVERY year that person was at least an hour late for dinner.
Ah, yes. The holidays, a time when families come together to…fight.
But we had a lot of great holiday traditions, too. My mother had a real knack for decorating. Every year our house looked like a Christmas wonderland, and we invariably had the most spectacular tree in the neighborhood. We were fanatic about our Christmas decorations, collecting and hoarding them, storing them carefully from year to year and always on the look-out for new ones to add to the tree.
Over time, our Christmas tree became a record of our family history. It would take hours to decorate as we carefully unpacked and hung ornaments, and I loved every minute of it. My siblings and I still carry on these traditions. Not matter what time of year it is, I’m always on the lookout for good ornaments. One of my best finds in recent years is this Nancy Drew ornament, which I really love.
Pretty cute, isn’t it? I also have a small but growing collection of Star Trek ornaments (my fave is the doctor from Voyager), a beautiful group of White House Christmas ornaments, and some genuinely tacky ones like my Surfer Santa.
To this day, putting up the tree remains my favorite holiday tradition. Yes, it can be a total pain in the ass when I’m crawling around on the floor trying to get strings of lights to work, but it’s worth it. Because when it’s finished and I flip on those lights, it’s like stepping into Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine. For a few minutes I’m a kid again, waiting for all that Christmas magic to arrive.
What family traditions do you like to observe? Are there any you wish you could get rid of? One person who comments will win a copy of my Christmas historical romance, His Mistletoe Bride.