As Christmas day approaches, I enjoy witnessing the traditions and rhythms of this season with new wonder. This newness takes the form of looking at our family traditions and getting clear about what we do because we have always done it and what really fills our cups with joy. Traditions and rituals mark our time here on earth, the seasons, the years passing, celebrations of birth, love and death. In my opinion, they are important to our culture and if done thoughtfully embody and honor our values. Here are a couple of traditions/rituals that have topped our holiday list this year.
Let it Snow- The kids have a tradition, parts of it picked up from good friends awhile back. Whenever there is a chance of snow, they put a spoon under their pillows, 4 crayons in the refrigerator (preferably white) and wear their pajamas backwards and inside out. Last week it worked. And I have heard from their friend’s parents that spoons have been found under kids pillows.
Christmas Cookie Exchange – I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. 12 women, at a lovely home, chatting, laughing, drinking and eating cookies for hours. None of us even sat down, for 2 hours. We just rotated and talked with new people from time to time. We each baked 12 batches of cookies, traded with each other and left with 12 varieties of cookies to share. The cookies were a bonus but mostly it was the friend time that warmed my belly. Definitely a tradition I would like to continue.
Solstice Labyrinth walk– Returning of the light was marked by a multi-generational solstice walk this year. Tea-light candles lit from one central flame, cedar bows lining the pathway, intentions shared and family togetherness.
Trimming the Christmas Tree – A few years ago as a new mom, I had a tantrum about my lack of Christmas ornaments. My mom, being the loving person that she is tolerated my whining and began a tradition of giving me a new ornament every year. I loved this tradition so much that I started to give my kids a new ornament every year. Now we open the Christmas boxes with childlike enthusiasm. We carefully unwrap ballerinas, mittens, rocking horses, fancy shoes, coffee cups, handmade snowflakes from my grandmother, and fill the tree to the top with memories. My vision is when the kids move into their own homes, they will receive a Christmas box filled with their ornaments.
A-lighting the house with lights – Every year, more and more lights fill our house. Why not they are so beautiful?! This year, the house is covered, the cherry tree lit by young tree climbers, lighted garlands twirl up the stairs, the enormous tree twinkles away.
Christmas Carols – Jingle bells on violin, Jingle bell rock with percussion, Rudolph with exclamations. Every year the kids learn more lyrics and it gets more and more fun.
Christmas Meals – After the kids tear open their stockings, mama makes homemade cinnamon rolls, rolled in cinnamon with love. Dinner is fresh Pacific Northwest Salmon caught by one of the Grandpas. Leftovers arrive with the Grandparents, following the traditional Christmas brunch of omelets made to order.
These are the moments that mark this season for our family. Sharing joy with each other and with those we love. What fills your home and heart with love and holiday spirit?