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Creating New Traditions

Tears threatened to spill as my sister explained that she would not be coming home for the holidays. I understood her reasoning, the wedding would be taking up too much of her vacation time. I just couldn't stop my heart from aching over this final blow to my childhood holiday traditions. Time was finally up. Out with the old and in with the new. Ouch!

I should be thankful that the end came gradually and not all at once. My mother and brother had made a religious decision not to celebrate holidays or birthdays at all. Our family has lived with this situation for about two years now. Both my grandmothers are not as quick to engage in holiday activities any longer now that my mother, the holiday matriarch, is no longer joining in. My sister was my final link to the past. And she isn't coming home.

As I sat in my pain, memories came flooding back. The traditional turkey dinner at Thanksgiving brought the entire family together. We would spend the morning cleaning and watching parades. People would start coming and the women would congregate in the kitchen while the men would spread themselves in front of the TV watching football. Dinner would come and everyone would eat far more than they could comfortably hold and there would still be enough food to feed a small country. The men would head back to the TV (which most likely had been kept on during dinner so as not to miss any great plays) and promptly fall asleep, snoring loudly. I loved Thanksgiving.

Christmas would bring traditions too numerous to count. Santa always came during Christmas Eve while we were in church. We would rush home with our brown bags of peanuts, oranges and candy bars to rip through presents and eat loads of cookies and shrimp. We would go to bed with excitement knowing that there was more at grandma's house in the morning.

It was and is hard saying goodbye to these traditions and many others that were the foundation of my childhood. Now that it is clear that the past is the past, I've decided to create my own traditions. I am now the holiday matriarch and if celebration is to occur it will be up to me. Learning from other matriarchs seems to be the safest place to find traditions worth celebrating. Martha Stewart comes to mind as I search for holiday recipes and obscure crafts. Books on holidays around the world are helpful for teaching the children about what other cultures do to celebrate.

Magazines are also full of helpful ideas.

So here is to the first Christmas out on my own. I'll miss my sister greatly but I believe that I can begin creating some new traditions. I wonder, at times, why it is so important to find new traditions that will work for my family. I believe that the answer lies in the memories. I cherish mine and can only hope that my children will be able to do the same.

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