Last night our friends Elke, Michael and their children came over to help us decorate our Christmas tree.
Elke and I were talking about the way that having children shifted the responsibility for maintaining (or creating new) family traditions from our parents or grandparents to us.
We now understand all the work that our mothers, fathers and grandparents did to make our holidays special, even magical.
[And can I just pause to say, “Holy CRAP! What a lot of WORK!”]
Because K and I are
such control freaks so totally anal so organized, we hold a pre-holiday planning meeting where we review The Spreadsheet of Potential Festivities, make decisions, create complicated task lists and divide up the responsibilities.
[My mom teases us that our marriage is run like a business.]
[Have I mentioned the quarterly financial power point report K makes for me? No? Another time.]
K and I grew up with similar, suburban, big city, Christmas celebrations and so merging our family traditions hasn’t been too difficult.
There was no question, for example, that we would get and decorate a Christmas tree.
[Our friends Gwen and John (who are Quaker) wanted to get a tree, but their three year old daughter announced that she is officially Jewish -- and not just for the Hanukkah parties. She says that she is "Jewish all the time." The mere mention of getting a tree makes her SCREAM.]
[John is my friend whose New Year’s resolutions included eating more bacon and touching the breasts of men.]
With K and I there are only a few bones of holiday contention in the merging of our traditions.
It is all my mom's fault.
When I was young, my mother visited Colonial Williamsburg.
In Williamsburg, my mom got a wild hair up her…uh…early American settler.
From then on we had to string a popcorn and cranberry garland for our tree.
I admit, I love me some popcorn and cranberry garland. It does look nice.
However, I have spent many-a-night stabbing myself in the hand with a needle and it is not even Easter!
Finally, there's the issue of lights.
When K was growing up his family used multi-colored lights on their Christmas trees.
Things started out that way in my family, but the colonial hair up mom’s early American settler also brought the tradition of only using white lights.
[One must approximate hand dipped, tallow candles, right?]
So I grew up with white lights and CAN’T do colored lights.
And Huey from The Boondocks says,
“Oh, WHAT? Yesterday you were all “rainbow coalition Santa,” but today you’re all “Christmas Tree Lights of THE MAN?!!”
I'm a WHAT?!!!
What can I say?
White lights are my family tradition.
When my friend Lisa and her partner started a family they wanted to create a brand new tradition around Christmas and together they created Festivall.
Lisa says they did it because,
“My partner and I have many fond memories about our holiday celebrations growing up but it has become increasingly difficult each year to find the holiday spirit. Festivall is a way for us to intentionally celebrate Christmas, a time for spiritual renewal and celebration, rather than Capitalismas. Creating Festivall was our way of building a hopeful and meaningful family tradition connected to the spirit of community, giving, coming together and reflection on the year's end."
Lisa’s Festivall is a ten day celebration that starts every year on December 22nd.
The ten days of Festivall are:
- 22nd Day of Fasting & Cleansing
- 23rd Day of Self
- 24th Day of Family
- 25th Day of Tradition
- 26th Day of Home & Hearth
- 27th Day of Community Service
- 28th Day of Discovery
- 29th Day of Nature
- 30th Day of Peace & Justice
- 31st Day of Reflection & Renewal
Lisa's family celebrates each day of Festivall by following the day's theme in whatever way they wish.
I think that's pretty darned cool.