Why Bother With Christmas Traditions?
With seven kids, nothing in life would have been easy for my parents, let alone, celebrating Christmas much the same way every year.
We’d hang our handmade stockings on the backside of our piano. And though we lacked a fireplace and chimney, my parents assured us that Santa could walk through our front door in order to deliver his goods.
After midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, we’d leave a treat for Santa on a T.V. tray near the front door; a plate of cut out and carefully frosted cookies, along with a glass of milk.
And though I tried very hard every year to stay awake listening for sleigh bells and reindeer hoofs on the roof, I never could. But, proof of Santa’s visit never failed to come with Christmas morning. Then I’d see for myself, the cookie crumbs Santa had left on the plate, the bulging stockings and the stack of gifts surrounding the tree, each one bearing the unmistakable signature of Santa.
But, we could never open our gaily wrapped packages until after everyone was dressed, and our family photo was taken in front of the tinseled draped tree.
Carrying Out The Traditions
I don’t know how my parents pulled Christmas together every year for their crew of kids, but I’m glad they did.
Hauling all of us to midnight Mass could not have been a picnic for them. Yet, winter weather, whiny kids and slick streets did not hold them back from this tradition.
I remember how walking into the candle lit sanctuary on Christmas Eve always shut me up. The soft light from the candles mesmerized my eyes and made me want to be quiet. The choir sang carols in perfect harmony and their music filled me up with the wonder of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, a star, a manger and some wise men. Maybe for my parents, sitting in a pew at midnight Mass was their way to be in awe, wonder, and peace, even if just for a few brief moments.
How they afforded our gifts is a bit of a mystery. Visa had not yet been invented, so there was no such thing as “buy now, pay later.” But we did have grandparents and godparents. So perhaps those packages bearing only Santa’s signature, could have also come from others who were invested in our family.
Although Mom looked pretty in an apron, she was not domestic. But that did not keep her from finding a creative way for each of us to have our own homemade Christmas stockings complete with our names, spelled correctly, on each one. Her sister, a handier homemaker than herself, knitted them for all of us. And those cut out cookies for Santa Clause, they came from our Grandmother, a culinary artist whose talents Mom never did inherit.
About Those Traditions
The traditions my parents created for their crew of kids, represented the story of who they were as a couple; godly, family oriented, creative and caring. Those virtues are not ones that can be bought, sold, packaged or delivered overnight. They can only be remembered as a personal treasure by one who was lucky enough to receive them.
Why bother with Christmas traditions? You may never know the true value of their worth until you share one and watch the recipient smile with wonder.