Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family Decorating

Some people despise traditions because they disdain doing the same thing in the same way. Some people love traditions because they find comfort in turning occasions into special events. I happen to be one of the latter. Growing up, we knew what putting up the Christmas tree was going to be like. My mom and I would bake chocolate chip cookies and defend the dough against encroaching brothers and dad with wooden spoons if necessary. The smell of cookies would fill the air while the guys got all the decorations down from the attic. Lights would be strung out to check and see which bulbs were missing. My dad, an engineer, would string the lighs around the tree, methodically placing strands on every branch. Then mom would sit in the wingback chair and pass out ornaments for us to hang on the tree. To some people, it would be monotonous, but to us it was special. There was comfort, familiarity, and we looked forward to it every year just after Thanksgiving.

When I married my husband and I had a discussion about traditions. He's not exactly huge on them, but nor does he despise them. He didn't object to the chocolate chip cookies, though! :) we looked forward to starting our family, blending our traditions, and creating some new ones. We don't push the "perfect" traditions, but go with the flow. The last couple of years we have decorated the tree while children were asleep. Last week when we decorated we decided to allow Ryan to help out. We did, however, decorate the tree when William was in bed. Erik and I carefully separated the glass ornaments from the wooden and plastic ones and asked Ryan to help. It was so much fun to watch! He would take one and carefully eyeball and circle the tree, looking for just the perfect spot. He even told me so! The real laughter came when Erik and I realized that all the ornaments had gone on the exact same spot anyway! All of that effort and 5 ornaments hung from the same branch. To not ruin the child's joy, DH went quietly behind our son and redistributed.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was watching his excitement as I opened the large box containing the Christmas decorations. "What is that, Mommy?" and "Wow!" were frequently heard. I showed him pictures of his daddy of his "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornament, and the wooden bear that I had painted about 6 different colors when I was 4. We enjoyed being together. Ryan's childish giggles and amazement made me certain that this is one tradition I always want to continue.

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