Our Tuesday Fox asked, “How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?” [AS]
This topic had me scratching my head. My family enjoys celebrating holidays together, but we honestly don’t prepare for them together. My daughters have followed in my footsteps of having full calendars, so it’s impossible to plan things to happen on a yearly basis. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to agree on a date to get together at all!
I really don’t remember any special holiday traditions we had growing up, other than putting up a Christmas tree, exchanging gifts with my nuclear family, and participating in holiday celebrations at school and at church. As I’ve mentioned before, I had no extended family here in America. We have two cousins who are American citizens, but they grew up on an army base in Okinawa and we communicated through audio tapes and letters. So our celebrations were quiet because we celebrated on our own. Since our relatives were so far away, we had to plan ahead and purchase, wrap, and ship our gifts in November so that they would arrive at their destinations on time (this was back in the days when shipping packages via air mail was an extravagance we weren’t able to afford).
Later on, when I had my own household, I worked full time, so the holidays were hectic, especially since my music activities meant directing and performing in concerts as well as teaching every day. Seeing that the kids and I were in the right places at the right times was about all I could handle. Putting up a tree, buying and wrapping gifts, and mailing out cards are all things we did, but they were often done at the last minute, or when I managed to squeeze them in between other obligations, and never done as a family. There were a few years I made Christmas outfits for my daughters, but not consistently enough to call it a tradition.
Even now, after retiring from full-time teaching, I’ve always got at least two concerts in December. I’ve usually got final exams to grade and semester grades to submit before a deadline. So I still tend to put off a lot of the traditional holiday prep until I make time to do them. Since I don’t work full time now and my kids (and seven of my nine grandkids) are adults, I have more time to do things, which is really nice. But I’m still at a loss when it comes to traditions unique to my family.
Most of the things I do yearly, such as filling the stockings for the grandkids and making and sending out Christmas cards, are things I do on my own. But I guess the main family tradition is that we always find a time to celebrate together, even when we had to join in through FaceTime or Zoom. And to me, that’s more important than the decorations, the treats, and all the other things leading up to the holiday.