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A Few Traditions

I have noticed that many bloggers are, I don’t know, feelin’ the blues or just somewhat cynical about the Christmas Holiday season. (Do Jewish people have the same problem with Chanukah? I don’t know anything about that, except I wonder if the “gimme” spirit gets a hold there, too. Does Chanukah Claus take attention away from the candles burning without oil? I don’t know. Perhaps someone with a clue would comment?) Anyway, if you are down, I am sorry that you feel that way.

One thing that helps me, along with focusing on the real meaning of the season, is to make and/or keep traditions. If your family has always had a certain tradition that they have done, find out about it. If you don’t know of any, go talk to some older folks, even visit a nursing home and listen to “tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. Take your kids and adopt a grandparent and see if they have something to say that you can adopt as a tradition.

I will tell you plainly that I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and did not have any celebrations. Even so, I can remember being a little child and hearing my grandmother sing “Silent Night” in German. I still get a lump in my throat every time I hear that song, especially if someone sings it in German. I can remember…my grandma, my cousins, uncles and aunts…and I was very young.

After 25 years of marriage we have a few traditions that we have sort of made up on our own. One is that we have always taken the kids to the dollar store and let them pick up little things for each other and their friends. Dollar stores have gotten to be pretty uptown nowadays and getting kids in on the idea that you will be excited by GIVING something to someone is worthwhile. Last year one of my little friends, a 6 year old boy who is sort of an adopted nephew, knowing I like Coca-Cola and collect Coca-Cola stuff gave me a Coke glass from the dollar store. He had thought about something that Uncle Herb might truly like and was thrilled when I was so happy with my present. I was not only happy with the present, but with his thoughtfulness and let him know that, in my own way.

Another thing we do, if you have looked at the pics mentioned in the previous entry, is have the littlest one (for a while they all had to take turns every year) put the angel on the tree. You might be able to see in the picture that our ornaments don’t match. They are almost all gifts, given over the years and as we put them on the tree, we tell the story of where each one came from.

We also have pizza on Christmas day. Thanksgiving we do all the traditional foods, and then we put out snack trays all season long. But a number of years back it got to be so late on Christmas Eve and we weren’t going to have company and everybody would just be busy with their presents and other things, so one Christmas Eve we ordered pizza and just ate leftover pizza the next day. The habit stuck.

One other thing we did years ago that has really helped and I hope you will please allow me to share with you a hint about making the Holidays happy and meaningful this year and in future years as well. Simply, don’t get swept away in the crass commercialism of the season. One of the many reasons there is so much depression this time of year is because Mad Ave has convinced Americans that they are bad people if they only buy small gifts they can afford. I say, tear up, burn or shred your credit cards or at least save them for emergencies. The idea of gift giving at the holiday is (I have been told) to emulate the Magi who brought gifts to the Christ child. Those gifts, which have a lot of meaning in themselves, were thoughtful and came from the hearts of the worshippers.

Obviously Santa has to be real. NORAD has tracked him for the last 50 years and we all know the Government doesn’t lie. You can ask any Indian. Actually, the Norad Santa site is a lot of fun. Even after the kids were old enough to firmly disavow any belief in Santa, we still listened to the radio broadcast that followed his trek. It was just fun. Another one is I just want to help people lighten up a little and have a good time with the holiday. Just don’t get so carried away that you lose track of what’s important in life.

Remember, the Good Book says, “…lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Entering the house where the baby and Mary, his mother, were, they threw themselves down before him, worshiping. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.”

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