On Christmas Traditions.


I am being haunted by traditions today.

Christmas Eve 2020 is not like any other Christmas Eve. Normally, I would be rushing to finish up my work so I could join my family for our traditional Christmas Eve celebration. My siblings and I, together with our families and loved ones, would gather together at Mom and Daddy’s house. We’d give gifts to our parents. Our parents would give gifts to the littlest people. We would fight Daddy for the right to watch “A Christmas Story.”

He’d say “Not this again. We’ve seen this a million times.”

We’d respond, “But it’s tradition!” Someone might add, “but this the first time you’ve seen this episode of The Virginian, huh, Daddy?”

No matter what was on the television, it would be too loud and Mom would squint her eyes in the general direction of the sound and say “Can’t someone turn that down for five minutes?” No one ever did.

Our traditional Christmas Eve meal was pizza. Until the last decade, our family home was not in the delivery area of any pizza place, so one of us would have to pick up a dozen pizzas on our way. That person, more often than not, was my little sister. Because we apparently we’re the only family eating pizza on Christmas Eve, she was often late getting back and was the target of much good-natured criticism. To be fair, my little sister had a reputation for being always almost on time.

Most of the year, their small house served Mom and Daddy very well, but on holidays there were never enough places to sit. The fireplace hearth sat three or four people, depending on when Daddy last brought in wood. The little rocker behind the TV one person, Mom’s chair one person (but rarely Mom), Daddy’s chair (which he never used because the couch was more comfortable) one person. The couch sat three people, unless Daddy was in recline mode, in which case it sat one Daddy, plus two small wiener dogs. The dining room table sat six people, and the kitchen bar sat four (two of which could not leave until the people at the table got up).

Mom fussed over Christmas. She wanted to ensure there were no complaints. So every type of pizza imaginable was ordered. Thin crust, thick crust, just cheese, just meat, cheese and meat, extra cheese, everything but anchovies, everything but anchovies and mushrooms, just mushrooms, pineapple, pepperoni. Everyone must be happy!

In contrast, Daddy just relied on Mom to make it happen. “Make it happen,” was one of his catch phases. He said it often. In response, someone always made whatever “it” was happen. This made him believe (I think) that by his saying “make it happen” he actually made it happen. In that way, my Daddy was God. He spoke many things into existence.

At the end of the night, Mom would clear the kitchen table and she and “us girls” would do a jigsaw puzzle together. 5000 pieces of a snow scene or Santa’s toy shop. We’d sort out the edge pieces and decide who would do which color. I’ll do the sunset colors, you do the lake, Mom will put Santa together. The sound of Daddy’s snoring mixed with a John Wayne movie blared from the living room. We worked through the wee hours, rising occasionally to get another piece of pie, a bowl of pink stuff, or to take a bathroom break. Each of us was loathe to call “uncle” regardless of how tired we were. No one wanted to stop first.

This is our first Christmas without our parents, and it is freaking hard. Mom died of cancer in 2018. 2020 took Daddy from us. That fact alone makes this an extremely difficult time. Add insult to injury, there is Covid.

I’ve heard this year referred to as a “train wreck,” and a “dumpster fire” among other things. To me, 2020 was an angry toddler with an Etch-A-Sketch. It wasn’t enough that certain things were erased, but once that two-year old shook up our lives, he threw them in the floor and stomped on them. Now the knobs don’t work correctly and the screen is all busted.

There will be no gathering at Mom and Daddy’s house, my brother and his wife live there now and most likely have just their family in. My sister’s family will hole up at her place. I am working from home today, like many people this year, and am in no rush to finish up. Besides, the only place I need to go is exactly where I am right now.

What are we to do with this? How is this fixed?

It isn’t. There is no fixing this. There is living with it. Just … living with it. Pizza on Christmas Eve wasn’t always our tradition, Mom just came up with it one day for convenience sake and it stuck. So, that’s what we can do, now. We can come up with new traditions and see what sticks.

Tomorrow morning my beloved and I will rise early and take part in our new tradition with my children. We started this new tradition last year, and I’m blessed that they want to continue it. They will drive six hours from South Texas, and we will drive six hours from Central Oklahoma and meet in a secluded location to the days following Christmas together. No real plans, no schedule, just being together.

My daughter said she is bringing a puzzle. I suspect 5000 pieces of a snow scene.

04 comments on “On Christmas Traditions.

  • Missie Holbrook , Direct link to comment

    Blessings and a few tears shed for you and for me.

    • Diane Capps , Direct link to comment

      Wonderful Christmas story from my long-time friend, Diane Myers

  • Caryl , Direct link to comment

    As always, thank you for your thoughtful and insightful writing. You have a gift Thank you for sharing it and making my world a bit brighter. Happy New Year!

  • susan ballard , Direct link to comment

    Love the feeling in this. I have had to change and adapt it seems every year of my life since leaving home. We now quietly celebrate our Lords’ birth with no fanfare , no trees, no gifts just the assurance that for now we have each other and that’s enough.

Comments are closed.

Don't miss a post. Subscribe today!