With a fervor I can't fully explain, I have always loved the idea of tradition. I long to immerse myself in the familiar, constant, and comfortable and take every opportunity to establish rituals - especially when it comes to celebrations.
When I think of Christmases past, my mind and heart fill with warm memories. I think of driving to small town Nebraska to celebrate Christmas Eve with extended family at a cozy community center where adults caught up on a year's worth of family news and happenings, kiddos prepared for the annual "talent" show, and a seemingly endless table of food was replenished throughout the night. We slept four or more to a room at Grandma Hall's house, waking early to the scent of blueberry muffins, egg casserole, presents from Santa, and visits to the cows and kittens in the barn.
I recall celebrating with my father's family, watching my grandmother set a beautiful table with linen and china, smelling the savory roast my Grandfather tended in the oven, and eagerly awaiting every opportunity the chance to sneak tender carrots and potatoes from the bubbling juice. I remember an elegant silver and white Christmas tree standing proud in the living room as I sipped my first taste of wine, a thimble-full served in a crystal glass I carried with me throughout the evening, feeling I had entered a new world.
I remember celebrating the New Year with my mother's family in my childhood home - playing board games with favorite uncles and aunts, snacking throughout the day, watching football, laughing, and thinking life couldn't possibly be any better.
And as my daughter nears the age of memories, I am eager to establish traditions that will color her appreciation of the season: visiting the trains at the Botanical Gardens, exploring the National Zoo under Christmas lights, enjoying latkes and dreidels with her Nanny and Saba and cousins, witnessing the live nativity at our church's Christmas Eve service, and ending the year tucked into a dreamy wonderland escape with her Grandmama and Grandpa. More than anything, I want her to know and feel love as she recalls - and looks forward to - the holidays.
What traditions can you enjoy - or establish - this season? How will you make the holidays special for loved ones?
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