Christmas Tradition

December 22, 2013

Dudley Wooten

Outdoors Columnist

Each of us probably has varied thoughts of what traditions are most dear to them at Christmas.

As we get busier and busier with work and play, it seems that traditions fade away. It also seems to me that tradition goes hand-in-hand with the generations.

As generations “progress,” traditions seem to “regress.” How do we keep tradition and instill it into future generations?

We must be the link that is unyielding and doesn’t break — we must keep tradition or start it because that’s another way of letting the grandkids know who their great grandparents were. It may be as simple as gumdrop cookies or the handmade nativity scene but there’s a name repeated with this tradition for many generations to come.

Christmas traditions are the things that Currier and Ives, Norman Rockwell, “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie” are made of and what’s wrong with that? Those are all great memories but they don’t have to be just a memory, they can be an annual Christmas tradition.

I’ve mentioned plenty of other suggested traditions and reading in other articles. Today I’m suggesting Jayne Reizner’s 1992 book titled “A Book of Christmas Traditions.”

It’s a one month daily suggestion of giving for Christmas. It’s mostly about giving of yourself in deeds for those less fortunate than you.

When we see one another over the season preceding Christmas, we tend to ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

This usually means, “Have you bought all the gifts yet?”

We tend to forget a lot of traditional thought and effort from generations past. It’s this thoughtfulness that turns procrastination and the best of intentions into true acts of kindness.

Reizner suggests to visit and cheer up the elderly, the homeless, etc. Give of yourself. This can be accompanied by food and/or gifts.

She suggests putting your own notes behind the windows of advent calendars and bringing out the special Christmas dishes the first of December. Christmas decoration should be a family togetherness event.

It’s making a memory. Christmas music during December is a good idea to set the mood.

Make the Christmas tree a family event. Together, you find, cut and decorate it. This is getting harder to do but it’s still possible.

If Clark Griswold can do it, you can do it. Let your kids have a tree in their room, with their own style of décor. When cutting your tree, get an extra one for grandparents, an elderly neighbor or a single mom.

Have a Christmas party with friends and have everyone bring an ornament for a special small tree that you give to a needy family or newlyweds.

Each year, as the kids increase, so can the Christmas library. Involve the kids in selection and reading. It will add a lot to the month, for years to come.

Choose a night for writing letters that you will include in your Christmas cards. Make it an evening for fun with good music, food and time.

Place thank you cards in the kids’ stockings. These are planned ahead thoughtfulness.

Give the gift of time. Take a kid shopping or to a movie while their mom can get her things done.

In mid-December, spend at least one evening by the fire with family and tell stories of Christmas past. Old pictures and movies could add a lot to this. This is old-fashioned family fun and it’s just your time with them.

Let the children bake a birthday cake for baby Jesus. For small kids, it’s an excellent act and thought for connecting his birthday and Christmas.

A couple of days before Christmas, barricade the door to the Christmas tree room. This would usually mean selecting another room for the tree because we usually have the tree where it will be seen and enjoyed or in a room big enough for the family on Christmas morning. This “barricade” is Christmas wrapping paper and on Christmas Eve or morning, when family gathers for gift opening, the kids come bursting through the paper to start the excitement.

I don’t know how realistic that will be, but the second half of that suggestion was to allow the kids to open the gifts from family there at that time, but to save others for days to come. This prolongs the joy and avoids the overwhelming frenzy of opening all at once. I couldn’t agree more on this one, it allows the child to appreciate the gift and the person who gave it so much more.

Give the grandparents an ornament with the picture of each new grandchild or great-grandchild as they are born. These will become treasured family heirlooms and be certainly well appreciated at the moment.

If you must send money at Christmas, at least there’s a way to make it more “Christmassy.” There are ornaments for enclosing money and checks.

The holiday ham or Christmas basket never goes out of tradition. The ones that we’ve received over the years are cherished memories because they are unique and represent true caring and thoughtfulness.

In today’s world, first of all try finding the baskets to fill. Secondly, try finding the cook to fill them. Thirdly, try finding the thought, time and money to get it done.

This tradition is all but forgotten for the aforementioned reasons.

With your children, have several “picnics” by the tree over the holidays. This is a break from the dinner table and it makes a memory.

Make the Christmas season special for grandparents. Have the kids give them a board game that they don’t have at home. This makes for time shared while visiting in the future.

After the kids and their kids have left, grandparents may be ecstatic while others may be blue. For those who you think may be sad to see you go, leave some hidden “I love you” or “thank you” notes for them to find after you’ve gone back to your busy world. These little gems of discovery will certainly make someone feel loved and appreciated instead of lonely over the holidays.

Even better yet, spend as much time with grandparents as you can. It’s well spent.

The Christmas photo is a great annual event. It tells the stories of generations, hair styles, new babies, etc. of Christmas past for decades. It’s a great idea and memory.

On Dec. 29, I get to celebrate yet another tradition. That’s our wedding anniversary. This is one I had best not overlook.

We all think we have Christmas tradition that we practice each year. How many of us normally do half of the things that Reizner lists?

How many of us even think to do these uplifting acts of giving and caring at Christmas. I believe this article can help.

Yes, it’s a little late for this year but here’s my suggestion. Instead of starting a fire or lining your birdcage floor with this article, cut it out and put it in with your Thanksgiving decorations. This way, you will find this reminder of all the things you may wish you had done last year for others at Christmas.

How many times do we all remark, “Now why didn’t I think of that sooner?”

This is just like me chainsaw carving four letters in a round cross-section of tree trunk and handing it to you. These letters would be T, U, I, and T.

Your immediate response is usually, “What in the world is this?”

That’s when I say, “This is for all the things you’ve said all the things you were going to do when you got a ‘Round Tuit.’ ”

There’s your sign.

Hopefully, we’re all having a good Christmas this year and with a few thoughts from Reizner’s list, we can improve on it next year. I will if you will. This is one way to make the “best of intentions” turn into a reality and a “Christmas tradition.”

Dudley Wooten can be reached at 740-820-8210 or by visiting wootenlandscaping.com.