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
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
Magazines are also full of helpful
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.