Sunday, December 15, 2013

Traditions old and new

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.

15 comments:

#1Nana said...

Good for you! We haven't gotten to that point yet. Last year I sent my daughter her ornaments from our tree...I have to say that I miss the dough dinosaur! I have to go to Austin to see it. Although this year their tree is garland in a tree shape, high up on a wall because they have a new puppy who likes to chew. My goal today is to get out the tree. Maybe that will put me in the Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas to you and Art. I wish you all the best this holiday season and in the year to come. I never tire of reading about your adventures.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a great idea -- tailoring new holiday traditions for new life phases! That's a great way to cut down on the stress of the season. And I love your idea about your gift to each other of donating to the local food bank. Happy holidays to you both!

Rian said...

Simplifying is always good. We too let the kids and grandkids take any ornaments they'd like from our tree to put on theirs. Over the years (46 this Jan.) we have collected beaucoup ornaments and even still have some old ones from our parents. But we still put up a real tree! Tried to stop that or even go smaller... but we apparently weren't ready. We would miss the aroma of a real tree.

One thing I do like to do around Christmas (and it should be done any time of year) is "pass it on". Someone once gave me $20 to use for the feral cats we feed and take care of. I told them I appreciated it, but we don't mind taking care of them... she insisted, so I thanked her... and "passed it on". Gave a $20 tip to a waiter the next time we went out for coffee.

rosaria williams said...

Somehow, with every year, our tree gets fewer ornaments. My husband would throw a fit if he didn't get a live tree. I'd be happy with just a few garlands; after all, there is plenty of evergreens right out the front door.

DJan said...

I bought a holiday wreath at the Farmers' Market on Saturday and put it on the front porch balcony. That's going to be it for us! Other than lighting a candle against the darkness, that is. Love your new traditions, Linda. Well done! :-)

Olga said...

I used to have five storage bins of Christmas decorations. I am now down to two and only a very few items came out to go on display this year. I am still in a bit of shock so I don't expect too much out of this particular Christmas, my first without Mike. In time I will find a new way of celebrating the season though. I like the idea of giving to a worthy cause like a food shelf.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

Sounds like us! In downsizing last year I gave away our ornaments to people I knew would appreciate them. Now we are on the road and in Las Vegas for Christmas, anxiously awaiting some friends to arrive.

Arkansas Patti said...

I love the food bank idea. Perfect example of proper Christmas giving.
I too believe Christmas belongs to the very young. The rest of us have what we need or want. My whole family has gone that way this year.

Out on the prairie said...

I have slowed through the years. I plugged in the star on top of the stable and that is my decoration.

Perpetua said...

That sounds like some very creative thinking, Linda. Enjoy the season your way.

Barb said...

Sounds like a perfect solution for you. I cannot give up my tree or village but may other items stayed in the boxes this year. I'm still baking cookies but lots of other traditions are changing///chaging

Bob Lowry said...

Those are great traditions to bring back. Like you and Art, I am not a fan of all the commercial crassness of the season but my faith is a big part of who I am.

You have given me pause to think about how Betty and I can spend the rest of the time before Christmas in a meaningful way.

Retired English Teacher said...

I like your new traditions. I think you have very thoughtfully incorporated those things that have meaning for you. I am still decorating quite a bit, but not quite as much as I once did. We still have the grandchildren here, so, I look forward to doing it all for them. And, for me. I enjoy it.

Deb Shucka said...

What lovely new traditions. Ours have shifted over the years as well. Have a wonderful trip south. I look forward to reading about your adventures there.

Linda Reeder said...

Your new traditions have meaning for you, and that's what matters.
As you all know, we still do Christmas up big here at the Reeder house.
Just yesterday daughter Jill caught me out that I did not put the little nut people on the tree this year. They are so tiny, and there is so much that I skipped a few things. Oooops. I did not get away with it.
I always worked hard to create a magical Christmas, not just about gifts, but about the whole experience, that I now have standards to maintain, at least for a few more years. But tom and I love it too. We are Christmas people, and we like to share the spirit of the season, which to us is warmth and love and beauty.