The enduring part of any holiday is the traditions that accompany it. There is a soothing quality to personal and family rituals. Christmas traditions are a mixed bag. Stores playing Christmas music starting November 1 have definitely worn out their welcome by December 1. If I hear “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” or “Rum pum pum pum” one more time I may become homicidal. Gift giving is fraught with peril, the ideal is to know a person well enough to select something that they like, want or need. The reality is sometimes “you thought of me and got this?”
Part of what we think of as traditions is deeply influenced by Dickens and his accursed novella “A Christmas Carol”. It was popular when first written and because the copyright has expired it has been endlessly made, re-made and parodied. I saw a list that rank ordered versions of the story. This made me wonder “what exactly is Scrooge’s crime? He has a love of money, perhaps influenced by his early experiences. But he is a hoarder, he’s not using the money for personal comfort and he’s not spreading it around in his neighboring retail establishments. So with his transformation perhaps Scrooge is the patron saint of Christmas shopping, all because of his fear of ghosts.
My favorite part of Christmas traditions are my personal rituals. It is hard sometimes to muster up enthusiasm on the short, dark days as the year winds down, but I somehow do it every year. I always loved the Christmas tree and lights, there was something magical and extraordinary in them. GA called the ornaments “vessels of emotional memory”, we see them and are carried back to the Christmases of the past and those we shared them with. There is some idiosyncratic reason that we love certain ones and a reason we carry the memory. It’s always nice to see them come out of their box for a brief visit. I love cooking the foods of Christmas, ham, St. Louis gooey butter cake and steamed apple/cranberry pudding are essential and other foods make a short debut but don’t make the final team. I love to keep traditions, yet it will still be a memorable Christmas even if I forge a completely new action.