Christmas Traditions: The Old & the New by Donna Powell

“Christmas, in its final essence, is for grown people who have forgotten what children know. Christmas is for whoever is old enough to have denied the unquenchable spirit of man.” — Margaret Cousins

Christmas Traditions. I look at those two words and then I stop. It causes a great moment of reflection for me.

My parents divorced when I was 4. I never saw my mom again. I was raised by my father with a lot of help from family, my grandmother especially. We moved around quite a bit when I was younger. From the time I was 4 until I was 10 we lived in: Houston, TX, Muncie, ID, and Newport News, VA, just to name 3 that I remember. I don’t remember much of my time in TX or ID. I remember bits and pieces. VA was the most memorable for me. I guess because I was older.

My Christmases in Virginia…They were special. I remember getting the bike I wanted, the Dukes of Hazzard plate set I wanted, dresses that I helped pick out at were frilly, girlie and special. I remember the trees, the decorations, and the family. Those important, special times. Having all of us gathered in one tiny house. The love was evident and I still remember it.

After daddy had his first heart attack, we moved back to Alabama. I can’t say I remember much about my first couple of Christmases. After we settled down and set up permanent roots in this really small town, things changed. Daddy “got religion”. It’s hard to explain but he went through this time where he swore it was in the Bible that putting up a tree was Pagan and against God. Never again was another tree put up. Christmas was not celebrated beyond a dinner on Christmas Day. And that was down to the two of us. My grandmother had passed on and Daddy was never really that close to the family he did have.

Flashing forward, past the death of my father and my brave new start in Louisiana, I only had my own tree a couple of times. The first time I decorated, I was so proud. Of course, not much was under it. Just a few gifts that I were giving. Traditions beyond spending the night with Mom and Pappy on Christmas Eve and opening gifts Christmas morning and then having a huge meal were small.

Christmas in California was pretty much the same, except the get-togethers were much larger. We had a gift exchange, fun was always had and I have some priceless memories and lovely gifts that I still hold dear to my heart: My first scarf from Kathleen, my pjs from Judy and Greg and my Bama houseshoes from Jeremy just to name a few. But you would be surprised at how much you miss getting those socks from mom and that new toothbrush.

Now, for the second Christmas, I am back home. I didn’t put up a tree last year. I honestly wasn’t in the mood. It was hard for me. It wasn’t as hard as the previous Christmas had been. This year, I’m looking for alternative trees. I’ve gone so far as to look at a Charlie Brown Tree. Did you know those exist? Yep, check them out at your local Hobby Lobby.

As I sit back and reflect, at all the Christmases past, they have been about family, food and presents. Sure, it feels good to give and even better to receive. But there is a reason we have this time of year. I won’t delve too far into it. I will say this: I believe in the reason for the season. And sometimes I feel it’s overshadowed by the wants. You’ve heard them haven’t you? I want those Steve Madden shoes, that Coach bag, that necklace from Tiffany’s, a new iPod, the new iPhone. The list can go on forever. And I’m just as guilty for saying them.

And yet as I write this, the word tradition keeps circling and sitting heavily on my mind. It is something that is very much lacking these days. And I want to change that. So I’m going to ask for your help. What traditions do you have? What’s one that you would like to have? If you could create one, what would it be? Share with me if you don’t mind. I’m just asking for one. If you are feeling it enough, share one of all three with me.

My goal is to start 3 new traditions this year. Maybe I can even come back after Christmas and let you know how they worked. So what do you say?

Donna’s Twitter bio describes her as: “Southern and loud! She loves her Crimson Tide, Marvel Comics, Thai food, Martinis, old movies and books, LOTS of books”.  Her journey towards empowerment & wellness began a couple of years ago when she stepped off a curb and broke her left ankle, both bones. She became aware, then and there:  her body was telling her something had to change!

Since then, Donna has listened to her true spirit.  When she’s not fabricating gorgeous quilts, spending time with good friends, or writing on her blog, Donna takes the time to make herself a hot cuppa tea and truly listen to her body and its needs.

You can follow Donna’s journey on her blog: Lipstick, Keats, and Tea ~ Because sometimes that’s all a girl needs and on Twitter.

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17 Comments

  1. What a lovely post Donna. I love that you wrote this so honestly. I’m not a great one for Christmas but I guess, when I think about it, there are some traditions I’ve adopted as a grown-up with my own kids. Making our own family Christmas cake and Christmas puddings on ‘stir-it-up Sunday’ the last Sunday in November is one born out of needing to eat English food when we lived abroad and even this year we kept it up after moving back to the UK, it’s such a big part of our family ethos. Spending time together making lovely things to share is what it’s all about for us.

  2. Oh dear. This really tugged at me. I was very fortunate in that Christmas was always big with our family…even when money was tight, my mother always made it special.

    Every year, I wrap presents while watching “A Christmas Story.” A glass of wine or three “may” be consumed, and the bows might be just a bit askew…but, the movie makes me laugh & the wrapping gets done.

    Merry, Merry Christmas to you, my new friend! I am so glad to know you!

  3. I just found an alternative Christmas tree made out of Post-its stuck on a mirror. I think it would be an amazing tradition to build your tree each day in Dec. by having each member in the family stick a note of gratitude or a wish or prayer on the mirror. By Christmas you’d have a tree representing the hope and gratitude of each family member. Isn’t that what Christmas is really about? May have to start this tradition.

  4. Kim

    December 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Our favorite traditions are decorating the tree after our annual Santa parade. Baking, eating. Watching all the Christmas movies and specials.. Charlie Brown Christmas is our fave.

    We have so many we stick to, and then so many we add.. Christmas is like that. Flexible. 🙂

  5. I don’t tend to think of myself as having traditions, but the truth is it’s not Christmas until I’ve watched “White Christmas.” And on Christmas eve, I like to sit in front of the tree (usually by myself, although some years my husband was agreeable to joining me), overhead lights off, tree lights on, silence in the room… and I reflect on the past year, the coming year, and all the love and blessings in my life. One more… stockings! I love to get as creative as possible with them, and quite honestly, I still love finding things in mine as well… thoughtful little treasures that remind me of childhood and make me feel incredibly loved.

    The last two Christmases were completely different than any in my life and I faced the challenge of preventing them from being sad. What I realized is that Christmas is a feeling, and even in a world of change, there are still ways to create the feeling I seek to experience. It doesn’t have to *look* any particular way to feel wonderful. Merry Christmas to you! <3

  6. I’m pissed I can’t correct my own spelling… where’s the edit button?

  7. Well thanks to Pinterest, I had a lovely evening planned of deocrating the Tree and hanging lights while sipping hot chocolate garnished with peppermints chips and marshmallows fromt the hot chocoloate bar I set up. The next morning would be the beginning of our adventures with Ralphie (our elf of the shelf). Meanwhile, what really “had happeneded was” … I did most of the tree myself, Kendall helped a little, the hideous ugly outside lights went up while we got eaten alive by mosquitos and I made 1 cup of hot chocolate for Kendall (no marshmallows) and then she threw it all up b/c she still has a touch of the flu. Oh and since I haven’t slept much all week, I managed to forget about Ralphie. I guess there’s always next week when she comes back from her dads. lol

    • Poor Kendall! I hope she feels better! Does anything ever go the way we plan like that?

      • Julie Coleman Freeman

        December 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

        Traditions! I feel blessed, we had alot of traditions..Sherbet & Ginger Ale at Nanoo’s on Christmas Eve and to this day we play “Christmas Eve Gift”. The first family member to call Christmas Eve Gift, gets to open a gift on Christmas Eve It doesnt seem like a big deal, but its hilarious when you have aunts, uncles and cousins calling my Nanoo (my grandmohter) at 12:00am to say Christmas Eve Gift.. But guess what? She answers the phone Christmas Eve Gift! Now, with texting and facebook.. it shuold be interesting this year. Lots of laughs.

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