After several holiday seasons where we simplified and simplified some more - including, last year, asking our kids to take the tree ornaments they wanted - we've come up with new traditions that suit us better now. We decided on them during a conversation we had just before Thanksgiving. Art doesn't like the holidays because they're hectic and seem hypocritical to him; I don't much care for them because our children are grown and gone and the excitement of the season is mostly for the young. At least the non-religious part. We're both spiritual but not religious.
So, we've begun a couple of different traditions this year.
In the 70s and 80s I was a liturgical musician, participating in the seasonal rituals. We have brought back the Advent wreath and candles at our house. On each Sunday of Advent, at dinner, I put on music of chanting monks and find an Old Testament reading while Art lights the candles. The readings are familiar to both of us, bringing back old memories. And, in the darkest days of the year, which we're in now, lighting candles has meaning for both of us.
In the 40s and 50s Art was growing up in a large Catholic family that celebrated the twelve days of Christmas between Christmas day and Epiphany, "when the wise guys showed up in Bethlehem." That was a gift-giving time for his family. We decided that this year on Christmas Day, we'll start with the little cedar box our old cat Muffin's ashes were returned to us in. On the first day we'll add a dollar, on the second day we'll add two dollars, and so on. By the twelfth day, we'll have 78 dollars, which we'll then donate to the food bank in Tucson, where we'll be by that time.
As far as decorating the house, I brought out a holiday scented candle. We plugged in the lights that live in our artificial ficus in the living room. We put a wreath on the front door and a Santa hat on the little giraffe in our entryway. Very simple, easy to put away before we leave on December 23.
It feels good, these new traditions coming from our pasts.