Which Christmas or holiday season stands out for you? Is there one you remember more fondly or often? Let me tell you about mine.
The truth is that for me, most of the past Christmases fold together in a blur. There certainly were traditions that got repeated every year. The funny thing about traditions is since they happen every year they don’t really stand out. We would always buy a Della Robbia wreath for the door. There would be the same ornaments. The same Christmas Eve spread of fantastic food. The same movies.
There is a warmth and fondness to that…and yet…they do all seem alike. Maybe that’s what we are seeking much of the time. We want the familiar, the predictable. We want the comfort of the proverbial “chestnuts roasting on the open fire”…not that any of us really do that. It’s more the image and the tradition.
Well my favorite and most memorable Christmas has some of that tradition, but in a very different way.
It was in the early 60’s. My parents, along with our dog and me, were living in a rented house in Vancouver, Canada. Dad was producing a TV series about a German Shepard that wandered from town to town making human’s lives better each week. It was called the Littlest Hobo. I was in the eighth grade and attending school in Canada. It was very different for me. Sometimes it even felt like we didn’t even speak the same language, heh? The house we had rented wasn’t fully furnished. The living room had a TV and a big stuffed chair. Each of the bedrooms had just a bed and an unfinished dresser in it. The family room was off the kitchen and it was where we really hung out. It had a warm brick fireplace and dark paneling. There was some comfy furniture including a dining table and chairs. My memory is that this was the best house we could find close to the studio and it didn’t make any sense to fully furnish it, or move our furniture from California for the year we would be there.
It snowed so much that when I took the dog out, I would pick him up and set him on top of the snow in the back yard. It had reached the top of the waist high fence. It certainly felt like winter, much more so than our home in the Hollywood Hills did. So we decided to get a tree and decorate it.
We strung popcorn and cranberries. Candy canes were hung on the branches. Little tiny mandarin oranges like the Cuties of today were also tied on the tree with bows. The only nod to the 20th century was little white lights.
It was the prettiest tree I have ever seen. It was so homey and real. The proof of that is that the dog not only ate some of the popcorn but christened the tree in a way that only a male dog can. How was he supposed to know that an actual tree in the house wasn’t an appropriate place to make his mark?
I actually even remember my presents. My dad got me an honest to goodness real transistor radio (am-fm even!) and my mother gave me an antique silver mirror.
I loved that we had to make everything for the tree. I loved that we had to actually come together as a family and create the event without all the hoopla. The work was shared by all, and the connection was created by our coming together in celebration instead of tradition. We had to set aside expectations and create meaning. What a gift that turned out to be.
For me it made a very memorable Christmas…and that is my wish for you. A memorable one, based on more together and maybe a bit less tradition.