Holiday Traditions-Christmas and Otherwise

It’s fifteen days before Christmas, and we’ve put the Christmas tree up in this house. Normally, we wait until it’s a bit closer to the holidays, but I’m going to be out of town next week, so Momsy decided that it would be easier to do it this weekend rather than waiting until right before Christmas.

In this family, it is a tradition that “the girls” decorate the tree; as the picture above evidences, “the girls” includes the cat. It’s been this way since I was a teenager, I think, maybe a little longer than that. I remember when I was a little kid, we would all go to a tree farm together on a Saturday in December, get the tree together, get hot chocolate and candy canes, and then we’d take the thing home and decorate it as a family.

When I was about seven, we got our first artificial tree, but decorating the thing remained a family affair-minus the hot chocolate and candy canes.

And then, somewhere along the line, my brother and my dad dropped out of the tree-decorating “festivities” and it turned into a “ladies-only affair.” In fact, this year, Momsy and I even got the tree out of the garage ourselves.

But last night, I was thinking about this. This is probably my last Christmas at home. And eventually, I’ll (hopefully) get married and have my own family. And when I have my own family, I want to have traditions. Christmas is important to me because a) it’s the celebration of the birth of Christ (which, yes, I am aware probably actually took place in April and was put in December because of a pagan feast but that’s not when we celebrate it in the Catholic Church, so deal with it) and b) it’s a family holiday and I happen to like family holidays.

When I have my own family, I want us to have traditions. And I hope that decorating the tree is a family tradition in my own family. I don’t want it to be just something that “the girls” do. I want it to be a family activity, so that my kids can experience some sort of ownership of the tree. Now, maybe my kids will think that I’m pathetic and won’t give an att’s rass about decorating the tree. But I love Christmas. I want my kids to grow up celebrating Advent. We don’t really do Advent in this family; we haven’t since I was about ten or so. And I think that takes something away from decorating the tree. A few families I know make decorating the tree a gradual process throughout Advent. (I also think that religious Advent calendars and Nativity scenes can also help celebrate Advent.) If decorating the tree becomes a part of celebrating Advent, then it makes it more of a family thing, at least to me.

I want to have my kids experience Advent. And I want to create lifelong traditions that can last long after my youngest kid turns 10. I want my kids to grow up celebrating the feasts of their patron saints. (Even if this does mean that I’ll potentially have to find a patron saint for an Elinor-St. Helen, maybe?) I have an incredible bond with my patroness, and I want my kids to have something similar. I want them to know why we do what we do.

So I want them to decorate the Christmas tree together-and yes, I’ll give them hot chocolate and candy canes as bribes. I want them to value Christmas and family. I want them to realize that Christmas is about more than presents. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m asking for too much. But I want them to see the Christmas tree as more than just a thing we put up to decorate the living room. I want them to see the point of Christmas.

P.S. The other two Magi are still hiding off to the east of the stable. They’re traveling from Persia; it’s a long trip.

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