Sunday Scribblings-Holiday Memories

Long standing traditions are one of the most comforting aspects of the holidays. Children especially, cherish those recurring once a year events – the cookie making, the tree trimming, gatherings with cousins rarely seen. As a child, I looked forward to the big holiday party at my Aunt Mary’s house, where all my cousins and I would gather on Christmas eve in giddy excitement, wondering what presents we would be opening in the morning.

But my favorite Christmas tradition was mine alone, both in its invention and execution. I grew up in the 60’s, and for a number of years we had one of those shiny aluminum Christmas trees -it’s branches like sticks of silver tinsel. I have no idea where the concept of such a futuristic looking tree came from, but trust me, they were extremely popular. Instead of stringing lights on them, you aimed a motorized color wheel at them, which cast a different colored glow on the tree as it rotated.

Weird, huh?

Anyway, my own special tradition was to lie on the floor each evening, the only light that crazy color wheel, and read my special Christmas book- “Jo’s Boys,” by Louisa May Alcott.

It says a lot about me, I think, that the memory of reading a book all by myself has become my central memory of childhood Christmas.

We don’t really have holiday traditions in our family anymore – at least not right now. I tell myself that’s alright – after all, there are only the four of us adults in the “immediate family.” Holiday traditions are really for children, right?

It occurs to me that this lack of traditional celebration, the absence of some sacred ritual (and I don’t mean that in a religious sense necessarily) is one of the reasons I have trouble with Christmas.

This morning, I’m sitting in a hotel room, preparing to set off on the second leg of our journey. We often travel at Christmas now, and perhaps this has become a tradition of its own. A pilgrimage of sorts, which is appropriate, given that this holiday commemorates a journey made by a couple in Bethlehem so long ago.

But I sort of miss the aluminum tree and the color wheel, and “Jo’s Boy’s.”

for more holiday memories, go here


10 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings-Holiday Memories

  1. No, that makes total sense to me! When our tree was in the corner (before the bookcases flanked the room) I used to sit BEHIND the tree to read my new book by the glow of the coloured lights. There was usually some baptism-by-chocolate-topped-oatmeal-square fingerprinting event of the book there, too. Oh well.

    Thanks for reminding me of those secret pleasures.

  2. A lovely memory, all of those books hold a very special place in my heart, I couldn’t pick a favourite (though I am still heartbroken by her not ending up with Laurie). Thanks for reminding me……..and happy Christmas!

  3. Sitting under the tree and reading was my favorite thing to do, too! Peaceful! Love this piece and the memories it evoked! Thanks.

  4. I’m not really a traditionalist. Memories are a lovely place to visit but I think each year should bring it’s own special magic…and I hope that both of my children will feel this way when they have families of their own.

    Safe travels..and may you create new memories of magic each day.

  5. When I was growing up I envied the houses that had those trees witht the colored disk. I thought they all must be rich! Enjoy your time in Florida!

  6. Becca,
    We had one of those aluminum trees when we first got married. We were poor students and couldn’t afford a real tree nor decorations. I think my parents gave it too us.
    After forty years of hosting the Christmas celebration, we mentioned to the kids that next year we were traveling to one or all of their houses.
    We’ll see!

  7. “Long standing traditions are one of the most comforting aspects of the holidays.”
    We didn’t grow up with many traditions. It was the actual gatherings there were traditional for us. I miss the very loud, huge gatherings. Thanks for reminding me of my childhood. And traveling sounds like a tradition I might want to create for myself in another 10 years if I’m not a grandmother by then.

  8. Sounds like a groovy tree 🙂

    I think you do have a Christmas tradition: traveling!

    I pray your son and daughter-in-law will be blessed with a healthy baby in 2008. THAT would be a fantabulous Christmas gift…

    Merry Christmas!

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