Keeping families, making traditions
Rangeviews, Oral, S.D.
How many times do you have to do something before it’s declared a tradition? Does the first year count as in “The First Annual, Traditional” whatever? If a year passes and the tradition is not observed, is it gone for good?
Some years ago, I started making cinnamon rolls when the first snowflakes fell on our farm. Although I make them at other times as well, the family began to appreciate the tradition, not because of custom but because they like the rolls. So, they played along. It’s the only activity in our home that our boys ever seemed to recognize, and even call it, a tradition.
To me, Christmas is Christmas Eve, everyone together. That’s all. Christmas Day was just an afterthought. This was instilled in me as a tradition when I was a toddler. We had Christmas Eve at Gram’s house, a big dinner, and we got to open gifts, “As soon as we get the dishes done.” And that promise was kept.
My dad has two brothers and most years at least one of the brothers and his family, came to Gram’s for Christmas Eve. Sometimes we were all there. I still recall Gram and her three daughters-in-law crowded into her kitchen, washing dishes by hand, laughing and enjoying Christmas. This tradition came to a screeching halt when I was almost 10 and the adults in my life took it upon themselves to change it all. No longer was Christmas Eve the focus; suddenly it was Santa Claus and Christmas Day.
The first — and only — time I wrote to Santa Claus, I asked for a pound of bananas. I don’t remember why bananas were such a big deal and I “knew” my Uncle Harry was Santa so I mailed my letter to him. I got the bananas and parents being what they are, they made me share with my brother. It is a mystery to me that I recall this particular Christmas but it made an impression. Another Christmas that stands out — and it may have been the year I got the bananas — my cousin who is my age received a walking bride doll that was at least 2 feet tall. The doll was beautiful and a perfect gift for a city girl. I had dolls, but usually I dressed my kittens in doll clothes and they (mostly) didn’t mind as I whirled them around in a toy baby buggy or a wagon.
One year my mom and dad got Gram an electric blanket for Christmas; the amazing thing was she bought one for them as well. I thought it was an amazing coincidence, but looking back I’m sure it was arranged. The happenstance was exciting though, for a little girl.
Now there are brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, married sons and daughters-in-law to celebrate. There are highlights of all the gatherings, such as watching my niece’s son “walk” on his hands all over the house. And the little ones… they are really what make Christmas.
It is my fervent prayer that each of you will have time to enjoy, reflect and have a Merry Christmas.
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