December 16, 2012

Christmas Traditions From My Home To Yours

Holiday traditions are funny. Sometimes people focus so much on the traditions that the rest of the holiday does not matter. This is very weird to me. I am not very tradition bound nor am I very superstitious, so when others talk about their holiday traditions, I always find myself thinking of my own, and my family’s traditions.

I recently posted about one family tradition I have and love around the holidays, baking. This is perhaps the strongest holiday tradition my family passes along. However, we do not focus on the traditions as much as we simply focus on being together. For years, my family gathered at my mother’s home on Christmas Eve to have Christmas dinner, open presents, and just enjoy our time together. We did this on Christmas Eve because both my brothers and my mother work retail, so the day after Christmas they have to be back hard at work. They enjoyed having Christmas Day to just relax and refresh.

This year, though, my older brother and his family are staying at their home out of state. My younger brother cannot attend, so he and I and our significant others are going to celebrate Christmas at my house while my mom will go to our older brother’s house since he has the grandbabies. This change did not really affect any of us. We just accepted that our Christmas experience was changing. This means that we weren’t all that committed to our “tradition” of Christmas Eve at Mom’s.

I like to think of the other Christmas traditions we have only half committed to like Midnight Mass, the turkey and ham meal, sipping on the holiday wine, and listening to Christmas carols. We have done all of these, but none of them have really stuck as a tradition. Let’s take the traditional Christmas meal, for instance. Sometimes we have turkey, sometimes roast, and sometimes lasagna. Always we have a vegetarian option for me. What I realized is the type of food we eat is not our tradition, but the meal itself is. We always gather around Christmas to have a family meal. That definitely qualifies as tradition.

Another definite tradition we have is the Christmas tree. When we all lived at home, part of the tradition was helping Mom put up the ornaments. This tradition was of the utmost important because we didn’t, and still don’t, have themed ornaments. We have ornaments that our parents made or bought on vacation, that we made for our parents or each other, or that we received as gifts. The ornaments themselves show our history, our traditions. This I love most.

We definitely listen to Christmas carols as another tradition, but sometimes they are traditional and sometimes more pop and hip. One year we might listen to Bing Crosby, and another year, Madonna will sing through the speakers. We like our carols, but are not committed to the type of carol we listen to.

One other tradition my family has is reading “The Night Before Christmas.” Even before my niece and nephew were born, my mother would recite the poem to us, her adult children. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom read this to us. We loved it then, but now that little niece and nephew are about, it’s even more enjoyable.

I think for my family the Christmas traditions are really just being together. We eat and talk and listen. We open gifts and enjoy wine and beers. We simply enjoy each other and our love. I think that is the best holiday tradition I could ask for.

Image Credit: Leonid and Anna Dedukh / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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