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Entries in Christmas (2)


What is Christmas Anyway?

Yes.  I said Christmas.  At my house, that’s what we celebrate and the gist of this post.  If your customs are around other holidays – FABULOUS.  Happy/Merry and all to you.

In chatting with someone at work this morning, we had the following observations:

Losing favor:

  • Holiday parties– while company parties seem to be back with style, neighborhood and friend parties are off.
  • Christmas cards – Yes, I sent Christmas cards this year with an annual letter.  Most of the people I know are connected to me on Facebook, so the handful of people staying away from social media is few.  Finding unique things to write about was problematic!  Are Christmas cards becoming extinct?
  • Big gifts – When divorcing my kids got the “guilt” Christmas of around $1000+ each.  This year my limit was around $125 each (includes grandkids and the in-laws) – still substantial enough for a nice holiday.  When my kids “need” something I tend NOT to wait for the holiday.
  • Baking – it seems the home-baked goods are off this year
  • Outdoor lighting displays – far fewer in neighborhoods.  In a bike ride from Bedford to Cambridge on the Minuteman Trail, NO outside displays were observed.

Gaining favor:

  • Family gatherings – getting together with family has never stopped, and in my family are now often multiple day events.
  • Charitable donations – As the year comes to a close looking at events in life where I have connection drive my donations (things like the Mark Fidrych Foundation & my fraternity) and organizations always there helping (includes church, the Salvation Army kettle, and the Girl Scouts.)
  • Believing – I just “may” be good friends with Santa, a good enough friend to often hear what he hears.  The size of the requests has dropped considerably over the years and in one case this year touched my heart, “I’d like Mom and I to have a house so we don’t have to sleep at different houses.”
  • Amazon – The poor UPS man is a huge part of my holiday.

In taking a giant step back from the list, I started to wonder what this all meant.  Part of me says perhaps we are returning to some of the key elements of the Christmas holiday and shedding some of the materialism.  Part of me says this is an offshoot of the great recession….the results of a new economic reality.

What are the realities in your family?



I wanted to write this week about some family traditions, and to give the aura of a scholarly endeavor looked up the word tradition.

Wikipedia defines tradition as:

Tradition  A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past.

This is just too scholarly.  Yes, some holiday traditions are passed down over the generations.  I am talking about the ones you’ve established with your family…over the last few years.  Life is short…we can’t wait to see if the tradition sticks.

Here are some of the new Christmas Holiday traditions in my family:

  • Starbucks – When the children were small, we would all get up and open gifts at first light.  Now, my son and his wife arrive at the house mid-morning.  As long as they bring an Ice Venti Skim Mocha, they can continue their new tradition of Starbucks
  • A Christmas Story – This 1983 movie is played for 24 hours each year on TBS.  We never watch it end to end…we watch snippets of it together.  I like the movie because it was largely filmed in my original hometown of Cleveland.  Even the house is a national treasure.
  • Pajamas – every year we get matching pajamas for the whole family.  Always flannel, from JC Penney or LL Bean.
  • Movies – we’ve started a tradition of going out to a blockbuster movie on Christmas.  While sometimes scheduling can be a challenge, it is always good for a laugh.
  • Midnight Mass – while my family is not Catholic, the Catholic church is “the best” at midnight church services.  Our Unitarian church has everyone back home by dinner.  My daughter likes us all to go as a family.
  • The Boston Pops – years ago we started taking the kids to the Boston Pops.  Way back when we went to Symphony Hall.  As the group has grown, we’ve moved on to places like the Boston Pops at the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, NH.  I have to admit, it starts the Holiday Season for me.

What new traditions are you enjoying in your home?