WHAT’S “TRADITIONAL”?

There was a time … long, long ago … when I had traditions. Celebrating Passover. The rituals of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day. New Years Eve and New Year’s Day Feasting. The decorating and piling presents under the tree. Carving a pumpkin. Putting out the little gourds for Autumn.

Oh (little) Christmas Tree

As time moved on, everything slowed. then stopped. We celebrate a semblance of Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but the piles of gifts are gone. I save the best gift for my granddaughter, then nice ones to both parents. Garry and I go shopping during the sale following the holiday when everything is half price.

Uxbridge Common

We don’t need that stuff anymore. We haven’t changed sizes in years. We have plenty of clothing, sweaters, shoes and lord knows I do not want another decorative item for shelves or walls. We were full up on that stuff a long time ago. A particularly interesting book from one of the used bookstores can be interesting and small things that go with the cameras — bags, cleaning cloths, and spare lens caps — are good. Especially spare lens caps. A new camera strap? Okay.

Otherwise, what we really need are things no one can afford. A better screen door for the kitchen and, for that matter, if one exists — a new Dutch door too. And maybe everyone would come over and spent four hours cleaning a couple of times a year — I’d jump for joy on that one!

Even so, we seem to be getting along very well without a lot of the stuff that seemed such a big deal years ago. I don’t miss the 8 foot tree with the falling needles that were still under the rugs two years later.

Or all the broken class ornaments knocked down by cats and dogs. I don’t mind figuring out how we are going to fit a tree into the house. We have a wee little 4-foot table tree that lives (decorated, no lights) in the attic, covered, and can be comfortably plopped on the table in season then covered up and moved back to the attic.

I always wondered why Garry’s parents used to more or less beg us to NOT put up another tree. We were young and we didn’t get that they’d had a lifetime of trees and were perfectly happy to celebrate without the symbols.

Maybe that’s the real truth of it. We like the “feelings” of the holidays, but we don’t need the panoply, the endless decoration, the expense of wrapping papers and tapes and ribbons and cards, then are bagged and dumped. No one needs all the inexpensive little things we gave each other, just to fill up the corners of the holidays.

I miss the family dinners. so if someone else is willing to cook? I’ll put my bells on! I think I have cooked enough family dinners for several lifetimes. And it’s okay. Paper plates work for me!

I remember the first time I told my mom I thought it was time for me to make Thanksgiving. The look of relief that swept over her. I had been expecting an objection, maybe even a complaint … until I realized my mother hated cooking. It was usually my father who cooked with all the resulting bedlam — and even had we been a more “normal” family, they had been hosting family dinners since before I was born. And it was a big family.

 

After I took over that first year, I did it every year. I liked it. I messed around with different versions of turkey, discovered I should never, ever serve soup before the big bird. Stick with simple stuffing. Also, don’t let the bird cool on the counter when you have hungry cats.

There is a time for The Traditions. And then, there is a time to pass traditions slide down the tree to the next generation and the one after that. Sliding down the tree of life, if you think about it, makes sense. That’s the way of it.

When the kids are young — and even when the grandchildren are young — there’s a surprise and a certain bubbly excitement to oncoming holidays. But by the time all three top generations in the family are adults, that magic has quietly faded away. Hopefully leaving some good memories.

We had good holidays. No family battles. No shouting or sniping or ugliness. We didn’t hate each other.

We merely grew older and got tired. Now, the best part is watching old Christmas movies. Bring on “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Going My Way” and “Holiday Inn” and more. Each generation will have their own. Thanksgiving? “Wizard of Oz,” of course! And every single American holiday, it’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at least twice, with reruns of the best dancing.

Bring on traditions — and don’t forget the music and movies!

25 thoughts on “WHAT’S “TRADITIONAL”?

  1. Couldn’t agree more, We have become a very small family and both Mr. Swiss and I can no longer be bothered. We leave it to those that can. Traditions have become expensive, and complicated. Christmas presents no longer exist in our family, we have everything we need and good health you cannot buy unfortunately, you have to have it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most of the stuff we bought was a waste of money anyway. I think it was about 7 or 8 years ago when I said “Let’s NOT do this again. After the holidays, we’ll go shopping and see what’s on sale and if we need stuff, w can get it then.” And we started giving gift cards to the adult kids and something special for Kaity — a new pair of boots, typically (and they really ARE expensive!). And generally, someone cooks a nice meal. Hopefully, not ME!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I LOVE this post! It resonates on so many levels.

        I have a constant dream loop memory of Sunday night dinners as a kid. Roast beef, oven baked taters, veggies (NOT peas or lima beans), home made gravy and those bake ‘n serve rolls. The radio was on and we listened to Jack Benny and his gang — Mary, Dennis, Rochester and a host of guest stars all played by Mel Blanc. (Jack: “What’s you name?” Mel: “Sy.” Jack: “Sy?” Mel: “Si”. Jack: “Who’s that lady? Mel “My seesta” Jack: “Your Sister?” Mel: “Si!” Jack: What’s your sister’s name?” Mel: “Sue” Jack: “Sue?” Mel: “Si!” Jack: Now, cut that out!!” (laughter on radio and around our dinner table). I can still smell the roast beef.

        So well remembered…..

        Liked by 5 people

  2. years ago I stopped sending christmas cards, when I realized that i was only getting cards back (for the most part) AFTER I had sent one. aha. A few close friends still sent cards anyway, and i returned the favor.

    We stopped exchanging gifts with each other maybe 20 years ago, since we both had quite distinct tastes and it was just a ‘thing’ to do. We don’t miss it. I broached my mother at one point and we talked it over, and she agreed at her age (she was in her early 80s by then) that it had become silly and expensive to exchange gifts with each other, and it also gave her a lovely excuse to tell her friends that “we no longer exchange gifts…(deep sad sigh here)…my daughter can’t be bothered…”

    I stopped hiking through woods to find the right tree, and finally stopped hiking through the attic to find the artificial one, about ten years ago. To appease my tradition minded husband I do put the candles in the windows.

    And now his relatives (who do Xmas in a huge way) invite us, we feast, we admire the new babies, they give us stuff (which embarrasses us) and we go home. I think they feel sorry for us, lol.

    I would love to cook dinner (always did) for them, but there are 17 of them and one of me. Im not sure the bathroom would survive such an onslaught, and the idea of six little energetic kids in a house full of woodstoves…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Judy, I still send Christmas cards with hand written sentiments to surviving family members and a few friends. My Mom used to stay up til dawn, writing messages in Christmas cards. She had lovely penmanship.
      So, it’s a family tradition I continue even in this era of E-cards.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I am literally the last relative (with one exception) in my family, and my husband, who is also an only child, has only his two cousins and their families (see above, 17, etc.) and they don’t do cards, never did. Most of the people I ever sent cards to were older, and all have died off.

        I congratualte you on your continuity, truly.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I stopped the big decorations when the kids left the house. It’s just not quite the same when there aren’t young’uns around. I still put out little decorations for me and Douglas because I like to make an effort, but the big ones? Nah. Family dinners? hahahahaha. No.

    As for presents… this is a different age, you can totally ask your family to set up a gofundme as a Christmas present then everyone can contribute towards your new door or other big ticket item. This is completely acceptable today — you get what you need, and everyone feels good about being able to give you something.

    Liked by 2 people

          • The thing about an internet gofundme is that people who don’t even know you will contribute if they think the cause worthwhile. This week a local family on holiday in Asia had a 3 year old nearly drown in their chalet’s pool and wanted to fly her back to Perth in an air ambulance, but it cost $42000 and they had no travel insurance.

            A gofundme page was set up and over $50,000 raised in 24 hours! A screen door might not be worth as much as a young childs life but you never know how generous people can be till you give them the opportunity – do you? 😉

            love.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I love those holiday traditions, I love decorating, and making homemade goodies, my sister’s are good cooks, I like receiving their goodies, and my neighbors (moved away) used to send homemade cookies each year as long as they were around, it was the greatest gift because often those were the only cookies as we got older, love them with our tea in the evenings. Now, like most of you mentioned, we are older, and there are no small children, I still love a real tree, and garland hanging from railings, smaller tress in bay window, and Christmas towels, blankets and pillows, throughout the house, nothing better than the red and green with gold thread throughout tablecloth, and napkins on dining room table with garland around the chandelier and mirrors. I collected snowmen, so I have plenty of those, more seasonal than just Christmas, so they can stay out longer….True regarding gifts, most people have what they want, so if we buy for each other, we make a deal, amount of $$, and what is requested, last year it was sheets, blankets, pillows, and home items, nothing better than 600 + thread count sheets, and new pillows! I still have gifts that are unopened sitting around….not that I don’t like them, just have lots of Bath and Body lotions, shower gels, and Victoria’s Secret cologne, and shower gels yet. Generally I buy what I like for myself during the holidays, and rarely go shopping afterwards, because the stores are messy, and now we have to store the after holiday wrap paper and such until next year! I am trying to eliminate clutter, and decorations are a big contributor to it.

    I have had years where we didn’t put up a tree, because I have to work the holidays, and worked nights, so i’d sleep during day, and be working all night….I enjoyed decorating at work, and the employee, and facility parties, we received many cookies, cakes, and small gifts, so it was nice. Christmas comes, with or without the decorations, and gifts, and hoopla…..my favorite movies, Charlie Brown Christmas, a great one! March of the Wooden Soldiers, a tradition since my childhood, my favorite lines from it, “Because I don’t love him!” when asked why he didn’t want to stay with new husband, my sister and I always laughed over that, she will call me, and tell me to turn on the TV, she would yell, “It’s on right now!” Great tradition to share with my sister, makes me tear up thinking about it. Christmas, it is what we want it to be, small, or huge….getting together and enjoying leisure time with friends and family, that is what makes it great, and while doing so, make sure to say a prayer, and give thanks for the ultimate gift of God’s son given for our salvation, if you believe.

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    • We did all that … and more … and we still do a little. And getting all that stuff “up” is never a problem. It’s getting it down and put away where you could never find a helping hand. That’s when I said NO and stopped. If I am going to be the ONLY one in the house doing all the work, then apparently I’m the only one who cares enough and it’s just silly. So we have a little tree, give little gifts, have a nice meal — somewhere — and that’s enough. Those who like church go. The rest think about it, but sleep late. And it’s pretty comfortable for everyone. All the hoopla and fancy fixings were nice when we had kids around, but now, everyone also has their own world with whom they celebrate. The family get together is just a little piece of the bigger pie. And it’s okay. It really is.

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