If you look up the word tradition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you get about four really good definitions for the word. A tradition is something that is handed down without written instructions. Traditions are everywhere and are especially prevalent during the holiday season.
My own traditions started when I was very young. Every year, before we got a Christmas tree, my mom would scrub the house from top to bottom with military precision. My family and I would almost always buy the saddest looking tree just to make sure it would have a home for Christmas. After my dad and my brother drug the tree into the house and set it up, I would water the tree, while my mom would try and keep the cats from climbing it and the dogs from marking it by chasing them around the house with a newspaper.
Once all the animals were pushed outside, my parents would put on Christmas music by Burl Ives — only Burl Ives — and we would decorate the tree. After a couple of songs my dad would stop bobbing his head and try to turn up the TV that was playing “Gunsmoke” or “Bonanza” until my mom gave him enough dirty looks to make him turn it back down. My family, minus my mom, would give me every single present to wrap and every year on Christmas Eve, me and my dad would fight through the huge amount of holiday traffic so that he could get a present for mom.
Once Christmas morning came, before the first crack of light hit my bedroom window, I would jump out of bed like a spring and run down the hallway. But, because I was afraid of the dark and was sure something scary was in the living room, I would stop just short of the hallway, turn around and run into my brother’s room. After jumping on his bed and pouncing him awake, I would run and do the same to my parents and my grandmother. They would all stumble into the living room while I eagerly jumped around and passed out presents.
About halfway through, my mom would bake the casserole she made Christmas Eve, and the smell of sausage and eggs would fill the air. Once the casserole came out of the oven, my mom did everything she could to keep me from shoving my face into the delicious casserole. Normally, that involved her waving a wooden spoon at me while backing me out of the kitchen.
When Christmas day had come and gone, my mom would keep the tree up and decorated for as long as she could, until it was either take it outside or risk setting it on fire just by plugging in the lights because it was so dry. Then the annual bonfire would commence with my dad being the leader with a can of gasoline and some matches, ending the Christmas traditions until the next year.
Fast forward years later and I am starting my own traditions. My boyfriend and I go out, get a tree, set it up and then I try to tell him how to hang the lights while he gives me dirty looks and tries to tell me how to hang the decorations. We listen to Christmas music, not Burl Ives though, he still sings my favorite Christmas songs. I put decorations up around the house while he goes behind me and makes sure the decorations are out of the way of the dogs’ tails. Then we always end up sitting in traffic for hours trying to get a glimpse of the lights at McAdenville.
The traditions we are starting together are constantly changing to fit our needs but, they are traditions born out of what we both grew up doing with our families. Traditions are such an important part of who we are as people that we don’t even realize they are traditions until we are older and have children of our own. My boyfriend and I don’t listen to Burl Ives, unless it happens to come on the radio, or watch western TV shows while we are decorating. But, we do have breakfast casserole and try to keep the dogs from ruining the tree. We open most presents on Christmas Eve because we are too eager to wait until Christmas morning. When Christmas morning does come, I am slower to wake up and am not afraid to walk downstairs and flip on the light myself.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.