Throughout my childhood, I always assumed everyone celebrated Christmas the same way. Little did I know, many of my family’s silly traditions simply exist because of my late grand-mère. Many of them are reflections of her favorite things and people. Being the center of our family, we all happily followed her lead and never questioned their origin. Now that she has passed away, I pledge to continue them in her memory.
1. Christmas Knickknacks: For weeks, my grandmother would decorate our home with holiday knickknacks galore. Once a year, she would transform all of her houseplants with fake poinsettias, dust off festive nutcrackers, and lovingly unpack last year’s art project (for example, a pine cone Christmas tree). Although 90 percent of the year I detest knickknacks for all the clutter they create, I appreciate them at Christmas.
2. Christmas Card Door: Grandma strictly enforced this tradition. Coming from a generation dependent on traditional mail, my grandmother’s friends exchanged dozens of beautiful cards each year. Upon arrival, each card would be taped to the back of our front door. When custom photo cards became popular, cards were saved and reposted year after year. By gazing upon our door, you could observe families grow from two to three to four. Although I have not sent Christmas cards this year, I appreciate and display every card I receive.
3. Christmas Morning PJs: I vow to never outgrow this tradition. The holiday magic begins the moment you open your eyes and recognize with a smile that it is Christmas. My grandmother was a glamorous woman who would never walk around her home without being fully dressed. It was only out of love for her granddaughters that she broke her own rule once a year to join us around the tree in pajamas. (She always managed to put lipstick and earrings on, however.) I believe at any age there is nothing cozier than sitting around a Christmas tree in fuzzy socks and flannel pajamas.
4. Wearing Red & Sometimes Green: There is an unspoken rule in my family that everyone is to wear red on Christmas. Once or twice a random person has arrived in green and looked like the odd man out. Apparently, other families don’t color coordinate for the holidays!
5. Christmas Family Photo: My grandmother’s multiple marriages created quite the extended family. Christmas being one of the few annual holidays everyone gathers together (and color coordinates), a family photo has always been taken in front of the tree.
6. Christmas Carols: My grandmother was a professional singer dedicated to her church choir. My aunt is a professional pianist. My younger cousin is a trained singer. These three represent all the musical talent in our immediate family and together they put the rest of us to shame. This trio would always orchestrate family caroling in our living room, including assigning each person one of the 12 days of Christmas. Although at times caroling can be painful — seriously, we are awful – we continue this tradition every year, knowing how happy she would be.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you, whatever your traditions may be!