December traditions follow the path I traveled as a child, with some adjustments and experimentation. The weeks following Thanksgiving are filled with holiday song and spirit. There is a hint of something I the air that I like to think of as yet unfallen snow, but given where I’ve spent my Decembers, snow is pretty unlikely.
Certainly there is a feeling of the unexpected, a great sense of hope, and as I now see Christmas through my children’s eyes, a wonder and a worry that only a child can feel. Knowing the “real” Santa Claus is watching, my eldest’s eyes grow darker and his brow furrows. “I know, Mama, I know!” when I remind him that Mr. C. is ever watchful.
Fully against my better judgment, I give him all of the toy catalogs and newspaper ads that arrive every day this month, and not only that, I arm him with a child’s pair of scissors and a Sharpie so he can cut out and circle everything he likes. We then “put it on the list” for Santa’s review, and he understands that not everything on the list will arrive under the tree. Still, he is so excited, and the excitement is contagious. My youngest has discovered bubble wrap and screams in delight when his tiny feet pop and shake the clear packing paper. He has no list for Santa!
Growing up, we spent Christmas mornings unwrapping and exchanging gifts, peeling tangerines and breathing in peppermint. Stockings hung heavy, filled with treats and surprises that were opened when no gifts remained under the tree. My parents wore robes and a fire was lit before we were allowed to come into the living room, and usually a photo was snapped as we three girls entered the room where Santa has left his mark.
It was as if the island of misfit toys, and beautiful toys, and every toy in-between, had found itself to our living room. Every year I am grateful to have walked into a colorful, creative display of gifts, a generous and warm and loving scenario created mostly by my mother, and now, as a mom, I am eager to bring that same spirit and joy to my sons’ Christmas mornings.
A change, however, in tradition, allows that we may allow for a bit less structure and a bit less (potential) disappointment if things don’t always go as planned. And a bonus: more room for new traditions!
This weekend I took my eldest son, a self-proclaimed superhero in training, to see an abridged version of the Nutcracker ballet. He was really excited, especially when we met four of his preschool friends at the theatre. He recognized the music because of having heard it at school. He knew the story having read it with me a few times at home. He admired the dancers for their ability to twirl and jump. He clapped hard at every pause in the dance. Altogether, it was a great experience, and in his own words, “It was awesome!”
Cookies after the show were just the icing on the cake.
I kept glancing at him during the show, wondering if this little boy who shuns all things pink and frilly and princess-like could truly be so engaged at the ballet. At one point he whispered, “Mom! That’s the sugar plum fairy!”
I could do nothing but smile and nod.
Of course, there were a few minutes when he cried because he and his best Maple Room friend started pushing each other, fighting over the best spot to stand and watch the dancers. But besides that small incident, it was a wonderful night.
I’m curious to see if this one will stick. Will I have a teenage son one day asking me to get tickets to the Nutcracker?
As we approach the special and sacred days of Hanukkah and Christmas, I look forward to hearing about your own traditions, and continuing to make more of our own.
Prompted by #RESOUND11:
This is the time of year when families are upholding decades old traditions and working to create new ones.
It doesn’t matter what you celebrate (or don’t) … please share with us your December traditions: how they got started, why you continue them, and why they are special to you.
How will you resound?
Linking up with Love Links!