My friend Jed, whom I met this past year online, asked me if I’d be willing to write a short blog entry to be included on his site, wherein I would talk about one of my favorite holiday traditions. For anyone who knows me at all well, you’ll understand what a challenge it presented, since he asked that the mini-post be between 250 and 350 words. Well, I was inspired, and I do love a good challenge; so I wrote the piece (which, after much work, I was able to whittle to exactly 350 words). I thought I’d share it with you here; and I invite you to pop over there and read some other short posts about Christmas traditions of other bloggers in Jed’s circles.
I decorated my Christmas tree this past weekend, and the first thing to don the branches after the lights are strung is what remains of a set of candy canes I’ve had for more than 25 years – all mottled and sticky and dripping in places from cracked wrappers. But they’re a tradition, so on they go.
My first official listen-all-the-way-through Christmas album of the season is the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Vince Guaraldi.
And every Christmas morning, I head over to mom’s house where, joined by my sister and her son (my nephew), we all sit and watch him open each of his Christmas gifts – a tradition that has likely become a little awkward for him at this point, since he is now twenty-two.
But of all my traditions come Christmas time, one stands out among them like a shining star. If I had to forego the others in order to keep this one, I’d bid adieu to my sticky college candy canes. I’d pass up the gift-giving at mom’s (as would she). I’d turn off “Christmastime is Here” (and even replace it with “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses from 1981, but please – don’t make me!).
Every year since before I was born, we gather at my grandparents’ little cape home for Christmas Eve. Over the decades, the specifics have changed. A crowd of twenty has become eighty. Traditional Polish fare like gołąbki and kiełbasa has have been replaced with newer dishes. And Grampa has since passed away. But one thing has not changed: Nana, now ninety-one, has always told the Christmas story to the new generation of kids, who will huddle round, sitting cross-legged on the floor in their pajamas.
Last year, despite having had pneumonia and a broken collar bone, Nana still managed to tell her story. Her voice grows a little weaker each year, but she still tells it with every bit the same conviction she’s always had. And while the other adults may not notice it, I still sit cross-legged on that floor every year and listen with the wonder of a child.
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