“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler
Earlier this month, I opened my old address book and sent out a couple dozen Christmas cards. Even though I stay in touch with lots of people through social media, this is a holiday tradition I love, and I always include a brief personal note. It’s not about the card, but rather the connection I enjoy preserving.
The holidays are filled with traditions. Some we anticipate with great excitement like the gathering of family, the opening of gifts, and the preparation of special foods. Other traditions, we’d just as soon let go of, like my grandmother’s English plum pudding. Seriously, I don’t think a single person besides Grandma W liked it. But did we eat it every year? You bet we did, and with a smile.
What traditions did you have as a child you still wished happened today?
I remember when I was a child, going downtown Milwaukee to see the department store window decorations. They were tremendous works of art and in many cases, engineering, and we went every year. In the evening, we’d drive through neighborhoods to see the decorated houses. Those are the holiday traditions when we visited Grandpa and Grandma S, as much as any other I can remember.
Another was the displaying of cards my family received at a time when everyone sent holiday cards. As the collection grew, my father would create a symmetrical layout and begin taping them around the built-in bookshelves and wooden archway that led from our living room to the dining room. He would often adjust this as we received more. Today, I can close my eyes and see my dad doing this, and it not only brings a smile, but a tear as well.
The holidays are a difficult time for many people. Why? Many reasons, but I think a contributing factor is the absence of traditions people once valued. Family (and good friends) they loved to gather with have passed away, moved, or the relationships are now fractured. Circumstances that previously carried on traditions have been disrupted or no longer exist. Drawing back to the quote at the beginning, the fire is out.
Traditions are important in every culture and family, and if you are hard-pressed to think of any you celebrate today, I’d encourage you to start new ones. It’s not too late.
I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, filled with happy traditions, and the effort to begin creating new ones. Maybe that starts with fanning the fire in you, as well as someone else.
Kate Mahar says
Nice piece, Pam. I discovered years ago (as I’ll bet you did, too) that some of the most memorable, fun Christmas celebrations I’ve been a part of was when I had no expectations. Several times I spent the holidays away from my family in different parts of the world and while initially I’d feel sad about missing them and our cherished traditions, being free to sit back and enjoy the day with friends who so warmly invited me into their homes was a delightful way to celebrate. I gained new insights into my friends and learned that the holiday spirit could be joyfully ignited just about anywhere. I hope you and Kathy make lovely new memories at your new home in Arizona!
Pam Sievers says
You nailed it on the head. Thanks for the read and taking the time to comment. I’m excited for the new year.
Gloria Kovnot says
Much Health and Happiness in the coming year to you and Kathy. Sonny and I sold our Condo and are renovating an apartment attached to our daughter, Lisa’ home. New beginnings for us too. We now live in Ingham County (Delhi Township) but still involved with Senior Council. Lunchtime Lecture series is going strong. Thanks to Tom and the Friends of the Library, we are now able to give our lecturers a stipend. We are so grateful to you in get the initiative started.
I so enjoy your posts. Stay connected to us.
Pam Sievers says
Thank you, Gloria, and best of luck to you and Sonny.