Christmas is a time for nostalgia--for entertaining the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present and trying to titillate the ghost of Christmas Future, hoping to catch a glimpse as he flutters by. We work at making memories, so it shouldn't surprise us when those memories come full circle and we see our children and later, our grandchildren, repeating the same traditions.
When I was a child, my parents had a basic rule: no one could approach the tree on Christmas morning until the whole family was together. My hubby liked the idea, so we continued it with our family, but our kids took it a step further. They picked one bedroom where the whole crowd gathered, some in sleeping bags on the floor. Then when the first of them stirred, they woke the others. Since the rule said we had to be there too, they woke us by singing Christmas carols down the hallway. It was a lovely way to awaken each December 25.
Now some of our grandchildren huddle together on Christmas Eve and wake their parents with carols the following morning. Some have also continued a tradition begun with my mother and carried down through my family: homemade cinnamon rolls with egg nog, mulled cider, and/or hot chocolate as a mid-morning brunch after the gifts are opened. Both are traditions worth emulating.
We had other traditions we weren't so eager to pass down, such as the stay-up-until-early-hours-putting-toys-together marathon. I hope none of our children are carrying that one forward. Then there's the tradition no one else has needed, the one in which my birthday present appears under the tree wrapped in non-Christmas paper, the peculiar joys brought on by a Christmas-week birth.
Other traditions are shared by some of the next generation and fondly remembered by others. The pipe bells, made for me as a gift by my sister-in-law in a style similar to those made years before for my mother, are a Christmas Eve tradition. When we gather around the fireplace, we share around the bells and laugh as we try to keep rhythm on familiar carols.
Of course there are also the familiar recipes: fudge and caramels by the pound, certain kinds of brittle and divinity only made at Christmas time, pumpkin bread, holiday pudding, and a wide variety of others. Each has its memories and different family members promise "it wouldn't be Christmas" without one combination or another. Since we add to them every year (the newest is Coconutty Christmas Pie), the list of sugary treats seems to grow as rapidly as our waistlines and we always have something to resolve for the new year.
A few days from now we'll be looking forward to another joyous Christmas with much of our family here to share it. We'll be enjoying old traditions and making new ones. Whatever the holiday means to you and yours, I wish you merriment, joy, and peace.
Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't be with her seven children, seven great kids-in-law, and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest.