Traditions Old, Traditions New, Traditions Treasured…

IMG_3599(Note: there is no Perfect Picture Book post today. Instead, if you go over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, you will find the finalists for her holiday story contest, and you will be able to cast your vote for your favorite story.)

This time of year, usually referred to under the umbrella title of “The Holidays,” is filled with traditions. Most people, most families, have their own treasured ways of doing things and look forward eagerly to the fond repetition.

Sometimes, I admit, people can get so caught up in doing things “the way we’ve always done them” that they miss out on the joy of new experiences, or they cause unneeded stress for themselves and/or others when things don’t go exactly right. Traditions — and the Holidays — are meant to add joy to our lives, and to the lives of those around us, not to pile more stress into an already stress-fraught time of year. Sometimes, we need to just relax and let go of the outcomes, and perhaps of some of our cherished traditions. Do not fear. New experiences will fill the spaces left by those worn-out actions, and will perhaps blossom into new, meaningful, and loved traditions.

Sometimes, also, a tradition may hold too much pain when the one(s) that used to share that special time are no longer on this earth. That is another signal to alter, or set aside, the old and try something new.

In recent years, I have had to let go of some of the traditions that were bound up in family Christmases, and have let go others because of time and monetary constraints — but I have added some that are true treasures, that make my Holidays a joy. I’d like to share a few of them with you — perhaps they’ll become your newest treasures, as well.

The book tree depicted at the top of this post, built last year, didn’t become a yearly tradition — but the Mousical mice that can be seen on the book tree are certainly a part of this Christmas as they were the year before last. This year, they’re performing on the stage I built for my Great American Mousical teaser posts in September, and they look to be having a great time. I predict that they’ll show up somehow in my holiday decor for years to come. My decor also includes little elves who sit in my Christmas tree — and have done so since my childhood. What are your most cherished decorating traditions?

It won’t surprise you to learn that books play a great part in my holiday traditions, as well. Some time in December, as Christmas approaches, I am sure to be found reading (for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, and laughing and delighting once more in the Herdmans — “the worst kids in the history of the world.” Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is usually a part of my reading tradition, as well. Christmas Eve just wouldn’t feel right without William Kurelek’s A Northern Nativity, and at breakfast time on Christmas morning, I will read aloud the Christmas story from my mother’s wedding Bible as I have done for many, many years. And likely, just for the joy of it, I will fit in a reading of The True Meaning of Crumbfest, which I have in an anthology put together by “Fireside Al,” Alan Maitland. Do you have any reading traditions at the holidays?

Speaking of Fireside Al, he also contributes to one of my other favorite Christmas Eve traditions. While I once read Frederic Forsyth’s eery and wonderful story The Shepherd from the aforementioned anthology, I now listen to it, read by Alan Maitland himself. Mr. Maitland first read this story aloud on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) program As It Happens on Christmas Eve 1979, and it has been repeated on that program every Christmas Eve since, even now, when Fireside Al is no longer alive. It is also available on the CBC website, so that one doesn’t have to make sure one hears it when the radio program is actually on. Despite its title, it is not about one of the familiar “shepherds in the fields abiding.” It is a very different type of shepherd, in a very moving story. Do you have any special listening or viewing traditions at this time of year?

I could go on at length, sharing other traditions, particularly those involving music. Instead, I’ll just leave you with the traditional wish for a happy holiday season. May there be peace on earth, and peace in our hearts, now and always.



12 thoughts on “Traditions Old, Traditions New, Traditions Treasured…”

  1. For my whole childhood and into early adulthood, we read Dicken’s A Christmas Carol out loud every Christmas Eve – the whole thing! And we always began our Christmas morning with reading the Christmas story from the bible. Now that I have my own home, and a husband who did not grow up with my family’s traditions, I no longer do those two things. But until about a year ago we read “Twas The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve with the kids right before we hung up stockings – now that they are advanced teenagers they feel they’ve outgrown it and we didn’t do it last year 🙁 but I imagine they might return to it when they’re done proving how grown up they are 🙂 I like the sound of that story you listen to on CBC – I’ll have to check that out! Happy Christmas, Beth 🙂

  2. Gosh! Christmas for us is anything but traditional. One can be found at home or away, holidaying at the beach. Sure we always endeavour to catch up with family and friends either here at home or visiting their homes. It’s lovely to drive around looking at all the beautifully lit homes and streets in the neighbourhood on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning is for sleeping in. I love to bake and cook for visitors on Christmas morning. This year they are all coming for Christmas Dinner, hopefully out on the new deck. The weather forcast is for rain, so one always has to be prepared for the unexpected on Christmas Day, … 🙂 Merry Christmas, Beth! (ps: I love, Dickens “A Christmas Carol”)

  3. I like your book tree! You have fun traditions. I don’t know exactly what we will be doing this year, because we are now living in our grandparents house (for the time being until our new house is built). Happy Holidays! 😀

  4. It is interesting how traditions change over the years. I come from a large German farm family and the house was always full of people at Christmas time. This year it will be just my husband and me. I visited my Mom, son and his family in Alberta two weekends ago. I will see my daughter on Vancouver Island on Boxing Day. Yes, there will be reading, I will stay in bed and read to my heart’s content. I kind of like that new tradition.

    1. Mmmmm, reading to your heart’s content sounds like a wonderful new tradition! And you get to visit with your family members on days that are quieter than Christmas. That is nice, too.

  5. We’ve started a new tradition of opening a book each night from under the tree. On the first night Hannah threw it down and shouted I wanted a Furbie! So funny. They like opening something, it makes the Christmas fun last longer. I also let the kids decorate the tree themselves and I think I might keep that tradition, it’s special for them. Having inlaws for Christmas has become a tradition. I’m very thankful for Dad’s cooking. Concentrate on the positives 😉 Have a wonderful Christmas Beth!

    1. Awwww about Hannah and the non-Furbie! The book tradition sounds like a wonderful one. And having someone doing the cooking? Priceless. Thanks for sharing your traditions, Catherine! Have a wonderful Christmas!

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