I passed that tradition onto my kids, and now they relay memories of Christmases of “nothing but books.” I wasn’t quite that drastic, except maybe one year.
That year had been quite turbulent. We’d moved back to Georgia in the summer, and then my grandmother and my dad died during the month of December, so we were on the road a lot, trying to spend time with them in Alabama as much as possible as their cancers progressed. At my job, someone passed around some ABC gift catalogs. Their prices fit my budget, and their merchandise fit my mood and personality. They had several sets of books for both ages of my boys and they had a fun, fake, cardboard fireplace that we could assemble for our new home that didn’t have one. One order and Christmas shopping was done.
But we had a problem with the tree. All our Christmas stuff had been left behind when we moved. My sister gifted us with some beautiful homemade ornaments – toy soldiers and elves – that we still put on the tree every year. (She made us a matching wreath, too!) When my mom learned about the tradition I’d started when my boys were little, she took us shopping to help recover some of the ornaments we’d left behind.
Every year, I bought an ornament for each boy and one for our home, based on something that was relevant to each during that previous year. I’d done this tradition for four or five years, so we tried to remember each one. Mom took us to this cool Christmas store that sold thousands of different kinds of ornaments, and we were able to find several that were quite similar to those left behind, so the tradition lives on today. Basketballs, musical instruments, a camera with film, Noah’s ark – all reminiscent of their growing years. When Zach got a home of his own, I packed up his ornaments and gifted him with those, so he could carry the tradition into his own family. Jonathan asked us to keep his for awhile longer so they’re here when he spends time with us during the holidays.
Tim and I have continued the tradition, too, adding an ornament or two each year. We have city ornaments from places we’ve lived or visited, and ornaments from various milestones. Every year we laugh when we pull out the handcuffs to put on the tree. That year, I’d attended a citizen’s police academy and Tim had served a short time as a bounty hunter, so when I found some handcuffs in a toy department, I knew they were our perfect ornament for that year!
The importance of traditions is lost to us until we grow older. Traditions aren’t created and kept we want to be boring (as some of us tend to think.) Traditions are created to help us remember those extra sweet moments that tend to get crowded out by other memories.
Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books, where she serves as book publisher, writing coach, marketing guru. She is also a talented photo artist. She loves connecting with everyone – because everyone has a story to tell. Her latest books, The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series, encourage children to develop their storytelling skills through their own words and illustrations.
Follow Tracy on her personal blog at www.TracyRuckman.com for all the latest updates. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. She invites you to explore her books on Amazon and discover her artwork on Zazzle and Etsy.
Pamela S. Thibodeaux shared her favorite Christmas memory last week. You can read about it here.