A tradition my mother began, which I continue, is having a special ornament for the Christmas tree each year. Our eclectic tree has a wooden couple embracing, a flashy Welcome to Vegas ornament doused in glitter, a cruise ship with John Deere Alaska 2006 engraved on it, Clark Kent’s phone booth, a fairy tale book with “Once Upon a Time” painted on it, and a mug of frosty beer, to name a few. Each has a special memory for my husband and me, which we relive every Christmas when we decorate for the season.
When I get lost in my Christmas tree memories I think about other non-ornamental traditions. I guess we all become creatures of habit this time of year. If I don’t get a large helping of Aunt Mary’s macaroni and cheese sometime in the month of December, I sulk like a toddler. If my husband doesn’t drink a glass of port and smoke a cigar with his father and uncles on Christmas night, he’d declare a do-over. And god forbid a member of our family doesn’t participate in our raffle of gift giving—the world just may come to an end!
I look at our obligation-filled calendar and have similar feelings. Do we really need to go to Uncle Dan’s on the 21st if we see the whole family on the 25th? Do we have to cram in three visits on Christmas Eve? The answer is inevitably, “Yes!” Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without them!
So I encourage you to continue (or begin a new) tradition in your family. It wouldn’t be practical to mimic Tim Taylor or Clark Griswold for the quest to use the most electricity every year. But there are plenty of other traditions your family can incorporate this year, such as gift making weekend, board game night, recipe swap night, volunteering day, or even coming to Family Day at the Oliver Wolcott Library!
Here are a few titles to give you ideas to spruce up your traditions.
The Treasury of Family Games by Jim Glenn and Carey Denton contains hundreds of ideas to set your family up with some new games to play. From Rock, Paper, Scissors, to Seven Card Stud, this covers them all.
Reminisce with Julia Child, Martha Stewart, and many others as they share their stories–and food–with you in Christmas Memories with Recipes.
Making Things Happen by Joan Wolfe will help you on your way to become a grade A volunteer.
The Crafts for Kids series by Greta Speechley will give your family plenty of ideas for gift making.
Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is wondering when she’s going to get her yearly viewing of A Christmas Story in between the gingerbread house decorating party, the card making get together, the gift wrapping extravaganza, and of course the family and work parties…!