Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday traditions

On my birthday, you may recall that I made a post on how grateful I am to have such amazing friends who do silly, wonderful things to make me feel loved. It is, of course, not just my friends but my family as well, and as we come into the holiday season, my second one away from my family, I've been thinking a lot about family and traditions. Last year many people asked me about what I'd do for Thanksgiving and if I would miss it. But I didn't feel the need to do anything special for Thanksgiving, and I didn't miss it much, because to be honest, it's not the turkey or the apple pie or watching the Macy's Day parade that's ever made the holiday special. It's always been a chance to spend time together as a family and for us to continue all our little traditions. We've always done a small Thanksgiving with just our immediate family, and even Christmas, with a few exceptions, has been similar. So the things I miss aren't the feasts or really even the day itself, but the people and traditions associated with them. Our holiday season traditions include watching The Santa Clause, making rum balls, and seeing the Parade of Lights in East Peoria, not because it's new and different every year, but because it's been almost entirely the same for as long as I can remember.

I remember when we were kids how eager Phillip and Eric and I would be to put Christmas decorations up. Come December 1st, we would start asking Mom and Dad when we were going to put up the tree. I think it used to bother me that they waited so long into December, when other people began putting theirs up as soon as Thanksgiving had passed, but I've now come to appreciate that. Back then, though, it seemed we waited forever until the day finally came, usually the Saturday or Sunday two weeks before Christmas, when we would finally hear my father begin bringing the boxes and boxes of ornaments and garlands down from the attic. My mom and I were always responsible for putting the garland on the tree, but I always stayed away from doing the lights. We'd argue about whether to do colored lights, like I and my brothers always wanted, or white lights, like my mom did. And when we finally decided, my parents and Phillip would then have to spend at least an hour untangling the strands of lights and figuring out which bulb had burnt and put the whole strand out. When I was in middle school, I was given a pair of sparkly reindeer antlers by one of my teachers because I loved them so much, and the new tradition that developed was for me to wear these antlers during the decorating of the tree. My mom in particular loved them and loved to see me wearing them. Even when we went to New Jersey to spend Christmas with Grandpa, the antlers came along for me to wear while we decorated his Christmas tree.

Traditions, of course, sometimes need to change, and with Phillip, and later myself, going away to college, we had to adapt our Christmas traditions. Suddenly it became okay for us to put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, when we were all home for the week, because it was more important to us to have everyone there to join in then to wait until the "socially acceptable" time. Last week, my family celebrated Thanksgiving in my parents' new house--well, maybe not so new to them, but forever new to me until I get to visit--and put up their Christmas tree while they were all there together. Lo and behold, among the decorations, Phillip found my antlers, which my mom had been looking for, and then had the brilliant idea to send me a picture of each member of the family (dogs included) donning the antlers, to make me a part of the process.

This may seem like such a small gesture, but it was perfect. Well, when the first photo came in of Phillip, I smiled. Then was Eric, and I laughed. And as one by one the rest of the photos arrived, I was overjoyed and touched by the idea--both by the fact that the antlers live on, and that my family thought to include me in this way. So now I'm sharing them with you--the Reardon Family Christmas photo, the antler edition. They sent the pictures, I turned them into a Christmas tree :)

1 comment:

  1. This is so wonderful!
    I love your take on traditions, and how it's not the actions but the people you do them with that make them so special.