Holiday Traditions Bring Tidings of Comfort and Joy

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Andy Williams sings on describing all sorts of holiday traditions in this Christmas classic. He explains why it’s the most wonderful time of the year and I can’t help but agree.

By the end of the song, you find yourself ready to jump headfirst into those holiday traditions.

This song becomes my anthem from the end of August through December 31st every year.

I’m one of THOSE people. You know.  The ones who get a thrill when the retailers bring out Christmas before Back to School. 

I mean, you could practically call me Buddy the Elf with all the holiday traditions I have on my favorites list. 

Now, for all of you who are Anti-Christmas-Until-After-Thanksgiving and currently rolling your eyes, have no fear! I have a dear friend who attempts to rein me in every year. 

Right about the time I’m gearing up to go full Kevin from Home Alone, she reminds me that we have to pay homage to the Thanksgiving Turkey first. 

Leftover turkey sandwiches and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are my favorite parts of November. I even participated in the Turkey Trot last year! Progress! Huzzah! 

The rest of November I find myself feeling like a child on Christmas Eve—trembling with anticipation!

 

Favorite Childhood Holiday Traditions

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. As a child, holiday traditions were sources of excitement and comfort. 

I waited impatiently for the holidays to roll around so we could do the same things each year. Things that have never gotten old or gone out of style, even 30 years later. 

Holiday traditions like watching my Mom making beautiful and elaborate candy houses and villages. 

Hunting for the most perfect cone-shaped Christmas tree at the tree farm while hot chocolate kept our hands warm. 

Stringing lights on the tree with my Dad while Mom supervised. (“Make sure you start on the inside!” “Did you use white AND colored lights?!” “You missed a spot!” “Up. No down. Left. Not that far left!”) 

I couldn’t miss out on writing my Christmas list to Santa using the Fleet Farm Holiday Toy Catalog as a reference. 

Catching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown on TV before bedtime. 

Being the first to find the glass pickle hiding in the Christmas tree for one of those scratch-off lottery tickets on Christmas morning.

Eating “Egg dish” for breakfast (or in my Dad’s case, pretending to eat the egg casserole Mom made every year for Christmas breakfast but actually wanting a baked grapefruit instead). 

Listening to Handel’s Messiah while opening Christmas gifts while Mom cautions us to slow down and open one at a time. Oh, and stockings must be opened first! 

New Year’s Eve involved playing board games and watching the ball drop in Times Square. All while eating as much cheese and sausage, shrimp cocktail,  barbecue Little Smokies, and meatballs we could fit in our stomachs. 

And concluding our Holidays with the Rose Parade and football on New Year’s Day.

Little moments deposited in my holiday traditions bank that ultimately influenced my holiday experience as an adult, cultivating my fondness for the holiday season. 

So much so, I tend to start the season early so it lasts longer. After all, how can I fit in all my favorite things, when every part of the Christmas season is my favorite! 

 

Not So Merry and Bright, but Holiday Traditions to the rescue!

Then one year, things didn’t look so bright or seem so merry. 

I didn’t want to start watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in September. I changed the radio when a Christmas song came on. 

Hallmark Channel Christmas movies were not enticing. 

Red, green, and glitter everywhere was annoying. Don’t even get me started on the Holiday smells.

I waited to decorate my house for Christmas until the day before we were to host our annual Christmas party. A mere two weeks before Christmas. 

And, with no real reason or the words to explain my melancholy, I felt like a charlatan as I pretended everything was fine. 

“Of course, I’m just as excited for the Holiday Season as ever!” 

Except that I wasn’t. 

The Christmas season held no appeal. 

I felt nothing while unearthing treasured decorations.

There was zero motivation to shop for the perfect gift for each person on my list. 

I was numb as if there were a big Grand Canyon-sized buffer between me and my normal holiday spirit. And I couldn’t seem to find my way across or through it.

I was going through the motions; on autopilot from years of the same holiday traditions. 

Feeling guilty I couldn’t seem to find my way to the joy I was used to experiencing. Mourning, in a way, the joy and ease of childhood Christmases. 

Looking back, I find myself comforted by the holiday traditions that are so ingrained they required little thought or effort. 

Thankful, that even when I couldn’t feel the magic of Christmas those couple of years, I could rest on tradition to get me through the season. 

 

Holiday Traditions: Old and New

A few years have passed since my Christmas slump. I’m still as crazy about Christmas as I ever was, but I now have a corner of my heart reserved for thinking of those who are experiencing a Holiday slump.

 I hope there are holiday traditions they can rest on to see them through this holiday season. My Christmas wish is for the development of new holiday traditions to be the spark of joy needed to bust their slump. 

So, as for me… 

This year I started listening to Christmas music in September and may have forced my two-year-old to watch the new Grinch movie once or twice (maybe three times). 

I might also have roped my husband into watching White Christmas (again… and again). And, there’s a distinct possibility that I have a decent head start on my Christmas shopping.

I’m looking forward to decking the halls and have a special kind of excitement this year since my oldest son is two. 

He’s starting to recognize Santa Claus and Christmas Trees. 

He’s singing along to the more popular Christmas songs and wants to start every morning with A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Which I’m only too happy to oblige, as it’s a personal favorite.

 

The future’s so bright and sparkles like fresh snow!

It’s the beginning of the beautiful task of teaching him all of my favorite things about holiday traditions, with the added pleasure of creating new ones for our family. 

Such as 25 days of reading for the month of December. 25 books wrapped under the tree, waiting to be opened for our bedtime story each night. 

And, reading the Christmas Story before opening gifts on Christmas morning (while listening to Handel’s Messiah, of course). Matching Christmas pajamas is also on the agenda.

I can’t wait to see my Son’s face when he hears Santa’s sleigh bells outside his window on Christmas Eve (just like my brother used to do for me). 

Or, to teach him how to make the savory meatballs my Dad has made for every New Year’s Eve smorgasbord since I was small.

I’m itching to introduce him to the world of family game night as we count down the remaining minutes of the current year. 

I can already picture his excitement when we stand outside at midnight on January 1st. Banging wooden spoons on pots and pans to ring in the new year. (Okay, so we might be celebrating with Greenland three hours early at 9PM CST. But, it still counts!) 

The anticipation of seeing my beloved traditions through my children’s eyes has given an extra sparkle to my holiday season and I can’t wait to see where the years take us. 

The future of our holiday traditions are bright, and sparkly, and probably smell like cinnamon and pine tree. 

Happy Christmas from our family to yours. May your holiday traditions bring you joy and comfort, this and every year.