Pages of my life…

Lighting Up…Holiday Traditions…With A Personal Touch *

Posted on: November 29, 2009

 I joined the ranks today of millions of people whose weekends were spent decorating in anticipation of the pending holiday.  My mind wandered to days gone by…as I stood atop a tall ladder…cautiously reaching…adorning walls and windows.  I am a good child at times…helping with a few things far from home…visiting just in time to help unpack cherished decorations…and gather a few new memories to carry around in my heart.  Like snowflakes… each holiday season brings with it…a unique design that will never be duplicated again.  Draping the little paper chains made by tiny fingers more than fifty years ago…is a tradition not likely to change.  The large metal star shining brightly in the front window… serves as a reminder of a young relative no longer in our midst.    People who have known me for all of my life are avid readers of stories I share through this little portal into my world.  A few meaningful faces from the past…having weathered the sands of time…may well read from a distance…perhaps curious… if a loving tribute to them…someday might appear.   If you have treated me with kindness and respect…willingly gave me free rein to make my own mistakes…and yet somehow ended up as my lifelong friend…my answer would be a resounding yes…I will.   This writer considered including a disclaimer…in true Dragnet style…"the story you are about to hear is true…only the names have been changed to protect the innocent"…though it is my own name that has been changed…more than once.   In many ways…the realization that people I have known for most or all of my life may read these pages at any point in time….is a good thing.  Every single word I write…each thought I share…opinions formed…the vast array of experiences I have survived through …have been shared as accurately as possible…written with very little forethought…and are therefore documented in a straight forward and heartfelt manner for posterity.  The multitude of simple things that make each of us unique…can and often do impact generations to come.  If I were to make a Christmas or holiday heritage book of knowledge and traditions to share…I would likely include little nuances that make me who I am.  My voice is alto…but on the odd occasion when I am persuaded to sing…it is soprano.   If I am singing Christmas carols…as I did at the tree lighting in a tiny community last night…or singing in church…my voice is has an inherent sweetness.  My great grandmother wrote her autobiography in mid life…and from it I discerned the origin of my daily headaches.  She wrote of being at the centennial celebration…when President Hayes patted her on the head…and that day was the very first of headaches that would last her whole life through.  Maybe someday…generations down the line…a young girl with my soprano voice will come along and be happy to know there was a genetic link…so she can blame me when others leave the room.  Like the songs we sing…and carols we choose as favorites…decorations are as personal and diversified as our heritage and taste allows.  It is funny to me that one child fondly remembers some little thing with the clarity of yesterday …and another simply does not recall it at all.  I have vivid images of the fluffy little kitten my grandparents gave me one year…of a doll from my other grandparents…and gingerbread houses decorated with my children.  I will never forget a special couple lovingly looking into each others eyes as he stood violin in hand while she played piano…fluctuating between solos and duets without so much as a single gesture or spoken word.  There were egg carton bells and paper chains made by new generations …and holiday goodies emerging from the kitchen that even the most hardened diet guru could not resist.  I have known trees gracefully draped wearing nothing but pearls… ribbons and bows…and others seemingly cluttered with homemade ornaments proudly hung by little hands.   Come the end of the day…no matter what your tradition…or holiday memories demand …what really counts is choosing a combination of decoration and lighting …that lights up your face as well.   If you have the time…consider writing down all of the family traditions for future generations to enjoy.  Your kids may at times seem like ungrateful brats…or by contrast look like the pick of the litter …but it is almost certain…that someone …somewhere will be forever thankful to know…that this is where their favorite traditions began.  It need not be anything fancy.  One family may  name the tree they cut down each year and spend days sitting watching family movies.   My own kids run excitedly through the store when the first carton of eggnog is spotted on the shelf.  As I walk through a loved one’s home…I may see a collection of animated toys whose annual appearance results in pure unadulterated joy.  Look around and you may discover how easy it is to start a tradition of your own…one that may be carried on long after you are gone.   I will magically reappear again…when the season is drawing to a close…and it is time to unwrap all that has been lovingly assembled…perhaps just in time to bring in the new year…laughing and singing along…with someone whose voice sounds like mine. 

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