Friday, December 17, 2010

Seven Traditions

Back in the olden days when the nest was full, the words "Christmas" and "tradition" were practically interchangeable. We WOULD do certain things, because without these certain things Christmas simply wasn't Christmas.  Now that I'm oh, so much older and oh, so much wiser, I pick and choose my traditions. Guess which of the following have fallen by the wayside?

1. Live Christmas tree. The smell. The crisp air as we chose the tree. The charming asymmetry. The grumbling as Husband tried to scrub tree sap off his hands. The creeping fear that it would spontaneously combust and leave us homeless amid a pile of ashes. Hello, pre-lit that takes less than 60 seconds to put up!

2. Decorated Christmas cookies. I believe that if you asked the Boys what they most enjoyed about Christmas they might pick this one. I have an entire basket of Christmas cookie cutters so I would whip up a batch of sugar cookie dough, pull chairs around the island for the shorter decorators, and they would systematically see how many decorations could be piled on each cookie. No restraint here. Except for MomQueenBee's restraint in not shrieking and pushing each and every grubby hand away from the food. I do not share the kitchen easily.

3. Wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. As you may have inferred from previous posts, Husband has an attention to detail and sense of order that is entirely missing in my DNA. This has led to his role as head wrapper. He squares corners and double-folds ends as I sip cocoa and watch old movies.Which leads us to...

4. A Christmas Story. Oh, Ralphie, how I love you, with your soap poisoning and bunny suit. I dream of winning a major prize that is fra-JEE-lee.

5. Shopping with the Boys. When you raise your kids as a pack, there is never enough time with each one individually. I loved these four nights before Christmas, when I'd take each Boy Christmas shopping just by himself. We scoured the aisles of the local stores for just the right gifts, then Boy got to choose any restaurant in town for the two of us to have a post-shopping feast. By the fourth excursion each year I knew every toy WalMart had to offer, but I still was sad when the Boys outgrew the need for a shopping chauffeur.

6. Tree-trimming goodies. There's no time to cook on the night the decorations go up, so I buy fancy crackers (Town House! Woo-hoo!), fancy cheese (not individually sliced!), and Little Smokies. Then I dump a bottle of ginger ale into a pitcher of orange juice, and voila, punch! It's the perfect interlude between "Is the danged thing straight yet?" and "It's the most beautiful one ever."

7. Gathering in. Finals are over, and tomorrow night the first of the Boys will arrive in a flurry of computer cables and bear hugs and big feet. It's glorious chaos.

One day, the Boys will have families of their own. One day, like my mother before me, I will say, "You need to be with your own family and make your own traditions." Then the traditions that wrap around all of us being together will become memories, just like numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6 here. Truly, that will be fine, but I'm glad that day hasn't arrived quite yet.

Seven's the only one I will miss.

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