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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beginning Again...

My Start on a New Tradition of Christmas Decor
thanks to my friend, Kim.
Well, it's that time of year again.  Time to get up in the attic, or down in the basement, or in the garage and dig out the holiday decorations.  You know ...that love/hate thing you do every year.  Lights.  Tinsel.  Garland.  Tree that's never straight.  Bows and Bulbs and those homemade and collected decorations over the years that make up your family's particular "tradition".   Or for my Jewish friends, it will soon be time for your Menorah and decorations.  Whatever the case, this time of year makes us remember back to days gone by and holidays come and gone.  And most of us love "tradition".  But what if your traditions, or at least the symbols of those traditions had been lost?  Completely gone.  That's what happened to my son and I.  For more than two decades, our family had collected ornaments.  Tiny little symbols of people and places that we had loved along the way.  There was the personalized bell from my students when I taught job training classes in WV.  There were the little colored-bead angels that we bought from the two elderly ladies one holiday season in Ohio.  There were the decorations that Sam had made in elementary school..the pipe cleaner Rudolph and the Christmas Tree Ornament he had made with his cousin, Connor.  There were the "stained-glass ornaments" we had melted and made in the oven one Christmas. And there was the ornament that my penpal in Greece had sent to me one snowy season.  So many years gone by and so many symbols of that time.  Every year, Sam and I would break out the boxes and remember when as we put the Oreo ornament on the tree.  Or the fishing man that represented his dad. 

One divorce and one natural disaster with our house later and all our traditions were gone.  Not one survived.  Gone was pipe cleaner Rudolph.  Lost forever was the little bell that had made me smile.  Not even our nativity scene or our beautiful Martha Stewart tree had survived the damage.  I mourned that loss deeply.  Not because of the "things" but because of what they had meant.  It was just one more way in which my life had changed forever.

Last year, Sam and I once again went to the out building to fetch what we had for Christmas decorations.  My new mother-in-law had been kind enough to gift us with some left overs from years gone by from her daughter's collection.  I didn't have the heart to begin again that first year anyway.   So we used the things my mother-in-law gave to us and it wasn't decorating as we remembered it, but we were so grateful to have some Christmas back in the house and looking back from a year's perspective I realize that it is the time spent together and not the "things" that make the tradition and keep it alive.

And so it is with a determined heart that I begin again to collect decorations and make new traditions.  And so I was delighted when a friend gifted me with some of her collection so that I could add to what my mother-in-law gave to me as we make a new start.  And although I miss Rudolph and the little hands who made him, I'm delighted with my new Santa and reindeer and proud of my son who is now a young college man, and who delivered Mr. Claus to me and helped me set him up.   Love, family, and friendship...and time spent together. Those are the TRUE traditions that last.

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