The Twelve Days of Christmas?

Christmas Traditions.

Whew! What started as a little ditty has grown feet and taken off. I’m not sure how my one small peanut butter cookie idea became almost three pages of nostalgic laden words but it seems to have done so quite alarmingly. It could be that I have an important holiday message to get out there in the world or it could be that I have a propensity to wax eloquent. That, in case you did not know, is the nice way to say I blather. Painfully, I would have to say I wax more often than I inspire but at least I enjoy waxing. Wait, that did not come out quite right…

ANYWAY, I boiled down all the topics I had about my family’s tradition into this single half paged list:

1.A holiday cookie decorating party for the neighborhood families.

2.An advent calendar

3.The trimmings of our tree (evolving from a fake tree to live trees still with their root balls and running through the gambit of child safe ornaments to the current glass and fragile glittering menagerie and all topped by an angel holding a single clear Christmas tree light in her hands)

4.Only putting the presents out on Christmas Eve

5.The traditional Christmas Eve oyster stew dinner

6.My sister and I were only allowed to ask for one thing which we were pretty much guaranteed to get, however we often found other things we had talked about also waiting for us under the tree

7.Santa always left the presents unwrapped and untagged on the designated sides of the tree

8.My parents never gave us any presents marked from them

9.And lastly, Christmas has always been home in Michigan with only my immediate family.

Bleh! It’s boring reading. It’s dry and sterile and lacks any sort of warmth and vibrancy and please just wake me up when the list is over OK? I didn’t want to say “My family has an advent calendar” I wanted to tell you about that calendar. I wanted to say that my grandma made it for us because her mother had made one for her. I would describe how she made a copy of her mother’s 3×5 flat wall hanging of a sewn on Christmas tree and two rows of pockets at the bottom. The tree would be described as pyramided with 24 hook eyes while the rows of pockets at the bottom were marked in red yarn 1-12 and 13-24.

Once that was done, I could move on to describing some of the 24 tiny ornaments that hung on the pockets. I would have to mention the inch high family: Me, my sis, my dad and my mom, all labeled with our names. And maybe I’d mention the dog or cat, certainly tiny mouse Santa and the Sleigh because they were Special Ornaments with designated roles on the calendar. I might even mention Jack, an ornament neither my sister nor I ever understood. No one in our family is named Jack. Then, I just might say something snazzy or maybe something quaint (depending on my mood) about how each ornament hung there in expectation until the day of the month that corresponded to their pocket arrived and either my sister or I would choose a spot for it on the tree. But then again I might look at such a sentence and decide it was a little bulky and needed work.

Somewhere in all the blathering I would certainly have to mention The Rules Of The Ornaments that my sister and I adopted over the years. Starting with the solemn Choosing and Placing of the Ornaments onto the pockets all the way to the Proper Placing of the Special Ornaments in their designated hook eyes on the tree. Maybe I would add a little anecdote about the time we had a huge argument because one of us hung an ornament that was NOT tiny mouse Santa on the top hook of the tree and there by committed the Ultimate Sacrilege.

After all that, it would finally be time to get to the actual working of the calendar. I would tell about the excitement of waiting for the right time after dinner when we got the OK to hang the day’s ornament. Maybe I’d mention how much more exciting it seemed when it was my turn to hang the ornament and how, on those days, I was all bouncy inside because I would be the first to discover what the day’s pocket held. Or I might just choose the reverse angle and tell the story from the off day point of view, how I would have to wait for-EVER for my sis to unhook and place her ornament before she could get to the pocket to fish out the goodies. And THEN, after getting the second best of the two goodies, having to wait for her to fish out the coins of the day. Somedays this would take much longer as we got in coins the amount of money as the calendar day. So on the 19th there would be two dimes, two nickels and eight pennies to fish out of the pockets.

But then I’d have written an entire page on just one tradition and that seems like an excessive amount of blathering to write, let alone read. Still, it’s kind of interesting to note, now that I have it all in words, the tradition that steeps itself around these activities. Each item on my list has a page of nostalgia associated with it and the neat thing is that everyone has their own list of traditions and their own page of nostalgia and it’s not going to be the same as mine. You might have an advent calendar too but your calendar might not have a tiny sleigh that is always hung on the 23rd or a tiny mouse Santa that is always hung on the 24th. That’s why I enjoy talking about these things. You would never know how different my Christmas was from your Christmas if all you had to go on was a list.

Well, I am not sure where I am going with this, but there are lots more stories to tell. I think I’ll save them for other days when nothing else is going on. Oooo! Or I could do a twelve days of Christmas thing! Oh, I like that! Hee! Adieu.

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