Monday, November 15, 2004

At Christmas, I turn into my mother. You should turn into my mother, too.

I was thinking today as I was putting up my Christmas tree, how I try to imitate my mother's ways when it comes to holidays.

My memories of holidays back home, when I was a child, are so awesome, so full of tradition, it's hard to even separate one year from another. We have 8mm movies of almost every Christmas with my parents, and each movie starts out exactly the same: A few seconds of the lighted tree in its full glory, and then two, a few years later three, and a few years later four, kids running into the room, in excited ecstasy and new pajamas, towards the presents Santa brought in the night. The same Christmas stocking from year one. (The same Easter basket, too.) It would not have been right, to replace them. A brand new one would never have worked. Everything she put in that stocking, or that basket, was hand-picked by her, and placed individually in the stocking or basket.

I still look at those pre-made stockings and baskets, full to the brim with cheap candy and junk, or even those expensive monstrosities filled with Godiva chocolate and perfume, and covered with colored saran wrap, that people buy and just give to someone. I look at them with horror, and averted eyes. They give me cold chills, for they contain no memories, no careful planning, no continuity of tradition. . . . . they scream "I didn't think enough of you to make it myself but here's one some woman in Taiwan made especially for K-Mart, that I picked off a shelf for you."

Maybe that kind of stocking or basket IS your family's tradition. I don't know.

My mother would lay out that stocking or basket on her bed, and place everything that was to go into it, below it on her bedspread. That was to make sure each stocking/basket held the same amount of loot. Then she would place each little toy, etc, inside the stocking/basket, and lay it lovingly aside and begin on the next.

She did these things when she was a stay-at-home mother, and she did these things when she went back to work. She was never too busy to disrupt the continuity of her children's holiday traditions.

As a child, she had virtually nothing; all her ideas about holiday traditions she picked up from the books she read, and the movies she saw. She deliberately set out to create holiday memories and traditions and continuity for her own children, and she succeeded.

When I got married, and had children of my own, it was important to me that I do the holidays just right. And 'just right' meant, 'just like mom did them.' Even when I rebelled against her methods and worked overtime to do the opposite of any advice she gave me, when it came holiday time, I turned into my mother, and I did what she did. I still do.

I always felt sorry for people who went on vacations over Christmas. What is Christmas if you're not at home, making and experiencing traditions? You couldn't pay me enough to spend Christmas on a cruise ship, or in the Bahamas, or anyplace except home.

My husband's family on Christmas Eve, our own family on Christmas morning, my family on Christmas afternoon. It's what we do. It's what we will always do, as long as we are able to do it. We will never change until we have to. We don't want to change. Why should we change it? It's perfect. It's what we do.

Young families: honor those traditions. BUT, be sure you are also making traditions of your own. Visit your families, yes, if you can at all. But time in your own home on Christmas is extremely important, too. Traditions are awesome. Just be sure you make them, as well as keep them.

Oy, such a rant. But we are now into the time of year I love the most: holidays with family and friends.

And a Christmas tree in a room, makes the whole house a magic place called home. My mother didn't teach me this. She showed me, every year of my life.

Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:16 AM | |


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