I hand it to all of you who venture out into the world on Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving, I can barely rouse myself out of bed due to the turkey, stuffing and pie-induced coma I’m in. So to anyone who managed to get up early (or who camped out before the stores opened) to battle the throngs of bargain seekers, I salute you.
For me, one of the best things about the holiday is that it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Obviously, Black Friday shoppers feel the same way. The tree goes up that weekend, and I’ll watch every sappy Christmas movie ever made – twice – while I decorate and bake. The kids usually take bets on how long it’ll be before I start to cry, and then spy on me until a winner is proclaimed.
But the most significant part of the tree ritual is the ornaments, because each one has a special meaning.
As the kids grew up, we took them to Christmas festivals. Those of you in the Doylestown area may know about Our Lady of Czestochowa’s festivals and craft fairs. They were a huge part of our traditions. Additionally, in Bethlehem, Christkindlmarkt is a traditional stop during our pre-Christmas revelry. But we didn’t visit them solely for the usual reasons. We went every year and let the children pick out their own Christmas ornament; then I’d put their initials and the year on the bottom or backs of them. When they leave the house, they’ll take these tokens of their history with them as they build their own family and traditions.
Now that they’re older, we don’t go to many festivals; the kids are busy with school or work. Thankfully, I have many years of memories that are more valuable to me than any earthly treasure. They still search for their ornaments when decorating, and as usual, they go on first. As they place them on the branches, I remember the story behind each angel, star or, in Boy’s case, dinosaurs and Power Rangers. Each ornament tells a story, a precious moment in time to treasure.
For example, Matt and I have always exchanged our presents to each other on Christmas Eve. One year, I had bought him a pair of black boots. He tried them on, and then left them at the top of the stairs. When we woke up at the late hour of 8 a.m., we bolted out of bed. The kids had never let us sleep in on Christmas. Thinking something was wrong, we frantically ran to their rooms. All three of them were in the girls’ room, sitting and playing quietly. When we asked why they didn’t get us, they told us to be quiet. They’d seen “Santa’s” boots at the top of the stairs and thought he’d stayed the night. They didn’t want to wake him.
Then there was the year we went to Christkindlmarkt, and let the girls see an old-fashioned Father Christmas. As the helper elves were taking money, they also took the girls’ names which they fed into an ear piece for Santa. As they walked up to him, he ho hoed, and then called them by their names and welcomed them to sit on his lap. Both stopped dead in their tracks, jaws dropped and eyes went wide as saucers. They climbed on his lap with looks of awe on their faces, and were even more shocked when he let them pull on his very real beard.
That was the year they will always remember as the Christmas they met the real Santa Claus.
Every family has their own way of celebrating and remembering family time. Whatever your traditions are, I wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and Hanukkah.
On a different note, sadly, this will be the last article I’ll write for Patch. I’ll miss your emails and comments but life changes, and it’s time to move on. You can find out what’s next for me on my Facebook page. Thank you for taking time out of your lives to read my silliness; I hope I put a smile on your face every once in a while.
Thank you, goodbye, and Merry Christmas!