Let the Branches Carry Your Family’s History
Of all the holiday traditions, pulling out the tree decorations from the year before (and the year before that – and the generation before that) anchors us in our own history. Each family tree is different. Some are covered in crafted paper chains and popcorn garland – some reflect the newest trends – and some hold antiques and mementos. It doesn’t matter. It’s the gathering – and the repetition – and the remembering that matters. Playing carols, maybe sipping a little eggnog – and the ritual yields what it is meant to yield. Connections to one another – the warmth of the Christmas spirit.
Now imagine this. In that box of decorations you find little replicas of your family’s favorite books – or albums – or cereal – or videos (anything ‘favorite’) from years past. There’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” And “Captain Underpants.” Nina Simone and Brittney Spears. “Goodnight Moon” and “Harry Potter.” “To Kill a Mockingbird”” and Yo-Yo Ma. Books and music from when your kids were on your lap to when they were in high school. There – on the tree – stories and experiences that moved them. Entertained them. And made them see the world differently. Personal change made manifest.
Just this year my son-in-law got teary as he put “Where the Red Fern Grows” on the tree – remembering out loud how his then-little boy laid on his chest as they went through the sadness together. The now-13 year old experienced that closeness anew – refreshed that memory. Later, when the mini-“Peppa Pig” video made it to the tree, all three kids slipped into their best British accents, saying “give it a go” and “mummy.” My idea of heaven.
It’s easier than you think. The tradition has grown in my family over time. We now have a few sessions – new college friends – or adult friends bringing their children – and of course extended family. They come with ideas – and stories to share about why these books or performers – or desserts – are their favorites. Christmas carols, laughter, concentration and fun learning about one another. Ahhhhhh. The holiday spirit kicks off its season in our home once again.
Merry Christmas to you all.