Sunday, November 30, 2008

Changing Christmas Traditions

When I was growing up the tree never went up before the 17th. My parents wanted my birthday to be special and separate from Christmas. I held to that tradition for my first two Christmas' after leaving home and then my 20th birthday present, a perfect baby boy, arrived, a day late. So it would have been easy to simply delay putting up the tree by another day. I can't remember when the tree went up the next year. I had a difficult pregnancy and Bean was in no hurry to arrive. She was my Christmas gift that year. Over the years I spent many hours making ornaments and was given many as gifts, so at some point I started putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving to be able to enjoy it longer.

Mom had a tree, most years. I've seen pictures of my Dad's parent's house with a real tree but what I remember is their artificial silver foil tree. My parents never would have put up the tree just after Thanksgiving even if no birthday had been involved. We always had a blue spruce. When I met John this tradition was changed too, as he is allergic to real trees. We've had several artificial tress over the years, some years I decorated two. I miss the smell of pine in the house but not the mess.

Some years we'd attend church on Christmas Eve and other years not. I can remember singing in the choir a couple of years. Otherwise Christmas Eve was a quite day of anticipation. John's family always got together on Christmas Eve. Ten or more adults and twelve kids made for a loud, boisterous, fun filled day. In the early years his sister Ann always hosted but in later years we traded off. There was always tons of food (usually ham) with an emphasis on sweets. As the kids aged one or two would be missing but then there were spouses and children added to the family. Now most of John's family has given up on New York and moved out of state. But this tradition continues with our children and grandchildren. It's getting harder and harder to maintain however. Often someone has to work or there are conflicts with a spouse's families. I can see this tradition fading and it makes me incredibly sad. As of now I have no idea when or where we're getting together this year but we'll work it out and there will be presents and sweets aplenty on whatever day it is.

Christmas morning always began with stockings. We could open and play with what ever was in our stocking but had to wait until the adults were ready to open presents. Presents were passed out and when everyone had all of theirs the opening frenzy began! These traditions have passed on to my grandkids.

Christmas dinner was always a repeat of Thanksgiving when I was growing up. I was a teenager before I knew you could eat turkey on other days of the year. I think we went to my grandparents house in Syracuse before my grandmother died. In the years after she was gone my grandfather would drive out and buy our turkey for us from Plainville Turkey Farm.

These days John and I have a quiet day together. We open gifts and have a nice breakfast. In years when the weather isn't too bad we'll drive up to my sister's and spend the day with her family and Mom. If we stay home and there are lots of left overs from Christmas Eve we'll reheat them. If there are no leftovers I'll cook a turkey breast. We check in with everyone by phone so the little ones can tell us what Santa brought.

This was written for the 61st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy
, Traditions.

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