As we approach the holidays, take some time to reflect back on what traditions you remember from your childhood days. Let’s look back at earlier times…say your grandparents’ days. How did they celebrate the holiday season? Were gifts opened on Christmas Eve or in the morning? Was attending church together part of their holiday celebration? Where did they gather to eat a special family meal? How was gift giving handled? Was everyone involved in finding and decorating the Christmas tree?
There were no artificial trees in my grandma’s day so it was a wonderful family time to bundle up and go out looking in the mountains for that perfect tree. My aunt Ethel who lived in Silver City, Utah with her widowed mother and four siblings remembers… We did enjoy going out in the nearby mountains to find a Christmas tree. My older brothers would chop down a pinyon or cedar tree, then bring it home and place it in the living room next to the wood stove. They made a tree stand out of four small pieces of wood then it was time to decorate the tree. We threaded popcorn on long strings with a needle, and made red and green paper chains to drape on the tree limbs. Either candles with clips or later fancy colored electric lights were wrapped around the tree.
The top of the tree always had some special ornament representing the Christmas star or an angel, either store bought or homemade. The tree wasn’t complete until the star was placed on top to watch over us in our celebrating. We had some colored glass ornaments that were very easy to break but fun to put on the tree. The last decoration to go on the tree were icicles made out of narrow aluminum foil strips that you hung carefully on each branch to look like real icicles hanging down. They had to be placed on each branch one by one to get the right effect-no throwing them on in clumps. When the tree was undecorated after the holidays, the icicles were carefully saved to be used next year.
What holiday traditions have you preserved or are you starting new ones? Christmastime unfortunately can become too hectic for us as we loose sight of why we celebrate and the feelings of love and closeness that can be developed as we continue our family’s unique traditions.