Does your family have a unique Christmas tradition? Perhaps mom always makes a dish that her grandmother made for Christmas? Maybe your entire family would sing Christmas carol in the neighborhood? Or maybe your family would joyfully watch Nightmare Before Christmas every year after the enormous dinner?
I have a friend whose mom makes a truckload of the most beautiful and delicious European cookies for Christmas. She starts making them one month before Christmas. Every several days she would churn another batch, putting them in unique and Christmassy containers for her children, grandchildren, friends, family and neighbors. The one I love the most is the Swedish Sandwich Cookies, Syltkakor, with a dot of strawberry jam in the middle.
Some of the Christmas tradition may involve gifts. Terry Widner of Spoontaneous told me his lovely Christmas tradition that involves choosing small gifts for the special ladies in his life. “After my daughter was born I began placing an artist ‘angel pin’ onto her stocking. Each year brings a new pin. Lean years I have to get creative and find some eclectic angel that ‘fits.’ And other years when my pockets are deeper, I buy direct from jewelry artists. As of today, she has an angel pin collection that is quite varied, which makes for a very interesting and unique stocking (particularly so since it is a Minnie Mouse stocking). Seventeen pins so far. Life gets busy near a child’s birth and it is easy to miss a perfect opportunity to start a tradition with them.
For his wife, Terry does something similar but with heart pins. “Each year I choose a pin that usually has significance from that year. A flag pin when she became a U.S. citizen, a ‘home sweet home’ pin the year we bought our home, and a clay pin from an artist in New Hampshire the year we spent the summer there working by Lake Winnipesaukee.”
Terry is also collecting dollhouse-size rocking chair for his wife as well, since their dream is to retire and sit on rocking chairs everyday. The little piece of toy reminds them to pursue their dream.
These traditions remind me of Modena, a town in Italy that is renowned for its Balsamic Vinegar. When a son is born, a new barrel of Balsamic Vinegar is made, and it will be aged for 12, 18, 25 years or more to perfection.
You don’t have to start tradition quite that involved. But how about starting a Christmas tradition with gifts that are small? This is not only a way to be thoughtful, but the theme and continuity also help you to be focused. All you have to do is to be as creative as you can within the confine of the theme. Easy enough?