What is it about Christmas that has us thumbing through old cookbooks searching for a particular recipe of Grandma’s? Why do we carefully unwrap ornaments that are old and dilapidated and take pleasure in displaying them in prominent locations on our decorated trees?
This little cross has been on every tree since I was born. And no, I’m not telling you how many years that’s been. At some point it moved from my parents’ home to ours, along with a few other treasures. I never knew what significance, if any, it had for them, but I cherish it.
Every family seems to have its own special traditions. A Facebook friend mentioned she’s making Polish stuffed cabbage … that it’s not Christmas without it. I make fruitcakes in November every year. When my mother was alive she made steamed carrot pudding and we always traded some so we each had both. It only happened at Christmas. Neither of us made those recipes at any other time of the year. I also remember every Christmas Eve the entire family gathered at my paternal grandparents’ home. We wouldn’t have dreamed of making other plans.
There’s joy in these traditions and family celebrations, but when something happens to knock everything off kilter, their memories can make future Christmases a time of nostalgia and melancholy, even depression, as we recall with longing “how it use to be”.
We can turn the hands of our clocks backwards as much as we want, but there’s no way to turn back time in real life. I think that’s why time travel and historical fiction have such a wide appeal. As readers we can place ourselves into an earlier era, at least until we reach the last page.
I wonder if our families will recall this Christmas with fondness two or three decades from now. I wonder which of our traditions they will choose to continue or discard, and why. What makes traditions meaningful? As we approach the fourth Sunday in Advent, preparing ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s birth, what might we do to ensure the focus of our Christmas celebration stays on Him?
Do you have a favourite memory from a past Christmas? Why is it special to you?
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