Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tis the season for tradition

It has happened for me, each year since 1985. That feeling...longing for  those who are not here with  us during the  holidays. When they come, I get all the know, sad, happy, joy, heartache, but I must say these days the biggest feeling I get is comfort. An overwhelming feeling of being wrapped in a sweet, love filled blanket. When Ted & I married and then had children we blended each of our families traditions. Christmas eve, was his. Since 1997, we have had a Christmas eve open house at our home, an early evening soiree. It was Teds family tradition, and now our Hellier family tradition. I swear, at certain moments in the eve, in my mind and heart, I can see and feel Ted holding court in the kitchen! (The man loved to holiday, and he did them so well) All of our dear friends continue to show up on Teds favorite eve, sharing good tidings of comfort and joy. At the nights end, my children and I  take stock of who was there, who we missed, who we got to chat with, who we hardly had time to talk with or who was there, but we totally did not see!  We love the night, and are so grateful for all of our friends who continue to share our tradition and who have made it part of their family tradition.

 I find continuing traditions connects me to Ted and my Mom and Dad. Their place in my heart always, ever present...and certain celebrations... bring them right to me!

Christmas season in general, that is a Dad holiday... I won't say Bob LOVED  Christmas, but some of my favorite memories and traditions come from my dad. I will share a few here. Bob did nothing before Christmas eve... well, except the making of his fabulous Peace and Joy light signs... in the 60's and 70's my dad would get a piece of plywood, spell out the GIANT words in big magnificant light bulbs and then make a peace sign... I LOVED THOSE SIGNS! I think I was channeling my best dad when Ted & I made our giant peace wreath.

But getting the tree, shopping, wrapping, you know all the biggies, that was a Christmas eve event. For years (like, until I was in my 40's) I thought getting and putting up a tree on Christmas eve was an old Italian tradition. For as long as my dad was alive, that was ours. We would get a tree early christmas eve... bring it in the house, let it settle in, and then a few hours later begin the decorating!  Years later I asked my mom about the tradition  and where it began... and she said it was a "Bob" tradition... my dad didn't want to spend lots of money on a tree, so he waited until the last possible day. And can I say, the anticipation of that day... OUT OF OUR and my 3 brothers... it was MAGICAL!

And the shopping for gifts... also a Bob tradition on Christmas eve. After we purchased the best possible tree left on the lot, and put it up... he would take me on his shopping extravaganza! Just me and my dad... we shopped for my mom, and special gifts for my was always an adventure. As I got older,  my dad would wait for me to get home from college, NH, or Maine, where ever I was living, so we could get our shop on! (we did it until his last Christmas in1984 when he was too sick to make it out...I remember that year clearly,  Christmases as I knew them, would never be the same)
And then the wrapping. (or lack there of) Of course cheap Bob  did not want to PAY for wrapping paper, so he crafted his own... truly beautiful, funny works of art.  And Santa gifts in my house...unwrapped, thats how you knew they were from Santa!

From all of  those traditions... we have created our own.
Ted and I caved on the tree thing... our kids wanted it up before Christmas, so we get it a week before and leave it up for a week after.
Almost all of our ornaments are handmade which we all made each year to hang and gift.
We would get all of our shopping done in one night, though not Christmas eve, that was party night, but usually around the 20th... one day of shopping together and then dinner and drinks after... We Loved that tradition.
NOT WRAPPING  Santa gifts, my dad, TRULY GENIOUS,  all the big gifts, bikes, snow boards, doll houses, hamsters, sports gear... those difficult to wrap things...SANTA!!!
And the other gifts... handmade paper.
I continue those traditions, with a nod to the master paper maker!

 My mother did the lions share of the Christmas shopping, and house decorating on Cayuga Road, she LOVED it... shopping was her thing.  She was a thoughtful gift buyer, always thinking  of what would truly make each of us shriek with glee. As she got older and compromised because of brain tumors and many craineotomies  her gifts became a little crazy... but still she shopped. I have to say... those gifts... some of our favorite family moments, wondering what she was thinking as she was purchasing, and the looks on our faces as we opened them... so funny, and usually they were extremely large, extremely ugly or extremely not reflective of the recepiant at all. But we loved them all the same.

When she decked the halls, she would bring out the family decorations, wreaths, stockings, and Christmas up the house (until the Christmas eve tree event). Each tear, a fight about the Christmas tree beads... only she and I loved them, my brothers and my dad did not!  Each year when I joyfully trim the tree in my own home, with my vintage glass beeds, ( as the box my brother made a zillion years ago reads) it brings me back to family heated discussions on why they should or shouldn't be on the tree, I put them up without a fight, but always I am brought right backt to Cayuga Road.
And her Navity scene... the envy of my children. When my mom remarried she had a lovely Navity set. My children loved it and were kinda mad that we did not have one. Upon our return from a visit with my mom, Eliza & T-Moe set to creating a beautiful scene of their own. Barbie, Ken, Rescue Heros,  various animals,  playschool barn and a golfball, were the key players of their scene.  To this day my favorite decoration. Now 20 somethings, my children still set it up... it is the best! My mom passed away in 2011, the day after Christmas... I believe she was holding on, so as not to spoil the day that she so loved.

Traditions, I love them so, they send me right back, they warm me, bring tears, smiles and such a feeling of pure love and joy.  My children are tradition keepers, I love that about them both... I envision, a future with their version of our traditions that have been built over the years  and I look forward to each and every tradition filled year. Whatever your holiday and traditions... I hope thay are fabulous and spent with all you hold near and dear.