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Tradition and the tree

Friday, December 24, 2010

The other day Belen turned to me and said she wished we didn't have to exchange gifts at Christmas. She said she didn't like seeing people run around, worried about money and lists. She wished it could just be a time when we focused on Christ and service to each other.

The extras, she said, just shouldn't matter.

I agreed and wondered how I got such a mature young woman. But then I thought back to all of the Christmases past and remembered that she and Charley seemed to have always been like that. I don't remember a long list of requests for Santa. I couldn't even remember what we got them until a few years ago when the requests did become more item specific, like an American girl doll or a scientific calculator.
They always asked about other things. I'd get questions such as, "Are we going to make tamales again this year?" "When are we going to watch "It's a Wonderful Life?" "Did we get a new family puzzle for Christmas Eve?" "What are we giving to the food drive this year?"

Sometimes we measure whether or not it will be a "good" Christmas by the amount of presents we can afford or if we buy that exact item on the list. Call me naive, but I think it can always be a "good" Christmas when you surround yourself with those you love and keep family traditions alive. It seems that is what we, including our kids, remember most.
I know I can only recall a few presents that I received as a child because I kept them for years as prized possessions and my parents never went overboard on gifts. What I can really recall was our annual trip to downtown Portland. We'd get all dressed up to go eat, visit Santa, shop as a family and go ice skating. It was the highlight of Christmas for me, for my brothers and sister as well. I was always so proud to see my dad gliding with such ease on the ice. And now that they are both gone, those times seem to have more meaning.
My conversation with Belen reminded me of that and something I heard long ago, that children long for our "presence" more than anything. Long after the toy has lost its appeal, those familiar, simple family traditions will remain and go forward.
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A note to Santa that I found under the tree....

Admiring our family tradition of meaningful Christmas ornaments. They all tell a story.

I purchased this as a teenager from a dept. store where I worked. It was my first ornament for my someday house.

Reese's favorite; his space ship.

One of a collection of Sterling silver ornaments handed down from my mom.
Ornaments collected from places we have lived. This honors Utah.
A bird's nest on the tree means good luck for the New Year.
More birds in a dome, a sterling cross ornament on the left, and Reese's dinosaur in the background. Mercury glass in the foreground.
An angel on top of the tree each year.
The globe ornament from that same dept. store when I was a teenager. My mom bought one that day too. The ribbon on it is metal and says "Peace on Earth."
Now I'm off to tidy up the house and get ready for the evening. Enjoy your day and
have a great Christmas Eve!!

1 comment:

  1. I love your meaningful Christmas ornaments. Very cool. Our is just hodge podge. I didn't even like putting the ornaments on this year so my children did. Maybe we'll do something like that. You always are doing cool things. Can I be like you? Love you!

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