Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tradition is something that many of us enjoy.
Over the years, within our tradition group, my boys have focused on things like, "We always open one present on Christmas Eve," We always have a live tree," "We always decorate this way," and so on.
Here's a link to Christmas Traditions from around the world...it seems that no matter where you live or how different celebrations are from one area as opposed to another, we enjoy the sense of security that our own
traditions provide. Check out how others do it:
Our family enjoys the holiday's traditional foods and drinks (Egg Nog appears by the gallon), whoever gets up first in the morning each day, once the Christmas Tree is up in the house, turns on the lights so we can bask in the holiday glow all day long, and we take turns opening the Christmas cards that arrive, so everyone has a part in checking out the greetings we receive from others!
There's more, but they are escaping me at the moment. I'm having a flashback to one of the very special Christmas Traditions my brother and I shared with our mother during our early years...one that I refer to as The Annual Dark Apartment Christmas Extravaganza and Game Show.
It was a traditional game involving my mother's skills and the need, on her part I think, to keep her pride alive.
Raising two boys by herself, after our father beat it out of town without leaving so much as a piece of tinsel for the tree, mother used tactics from Hide and Seek, Concentration, Jeopardy, the Price is Right, and Jackpot to annually confound paternal relatives.
At some point during the week before Christmas, we'd hear heavy footsteps coming up the hallway steps to our second floor apartment. With seemingly amazing radar ability, my mother would sense that it was someone she didn't want to see.
She'd run to the front window and check the roadside for cars. Sure enough, it was the uncles (my runaway father's two brothers) heading our way and carrying a large box filled with Christmas presents.
She'd run around the apartment hitting each switch to turn off all of the lights, while instructing my brother and me to "be quiet, don't say a word, don't answer the door, don't breathe, or Santa won't bring you anything and I'll pour all of the Egg Not down the sink and we won't go on a picnic next summer!" She'd pull out everything!
There we'd sit, crouched by the door, (that apartment was very big so we couldn't go far), while the uncles knocked and knocked and knocked on the door.
They'd talk through the door, telling my mother, "We know you're home. We won't stay long. We have some things for the boys." There would be several attempts, on their part, to make contact with someone in space, and a few sighs and groans.
We'd look at our mother longingly. They had things for the boys! Gifts for us!
Each year, even though we knew how it was going down as we'd been through it before, it seemed like a Christmas miracle. However, my mother had placed the fear of her in us, so each year we turned as blue as a Christmas light bulb, holding our breath for fear of angering our mother to the point of a gift-less holiday and the threat of no future fun, ever.
We'd look longingly at her, raising our eyebrows and smiling tightly at her, silently imploring her to let them in, but each year she'd raise her finger to her mouth and, although she didn't make a sound, we heard her, as clear as the sound of standing next to a 747, as she mimed the on-going threat. Her frown and the continual thrusting and sharp pointing of her index finger drilled it in. Quiet!!!
This would go on for hours! Well, it seemed like hours, but was probably only about five minutes. The uncles would leave...we'd hear the footsteps down to the ground level. Yet, we dared not move. Our mother would stand by the window to be sure they got in their car and left and then she'd acquiesce to open the door.
Each year, again, a box full of gifts. I'm sure my mother saw it as half an effort on their part to make up for their brother's neglect of us, although she never discussed with us why she actually did this. What we thought, at that young age, was that we had won the prize for playing the game!
As a result, we were really good at Hide and Seek, we could Concentrate for hours, there was Jeopardy in not playing by her holiday rules, but the Price was Right as we hit the Jackpot each and every year with those gifts, always behind door number one!
My uncles? I'm sure they headed to the nearest bar and tried to figure out why they kept losing the game.
As for my brother and me, Christmas lights have a special traditional meaning. Christmas in the dark followed by a Christmas morning all lit up. Pictured up top you'll see me, our cousin, and my brother in 1957...lights on, enjoying our tree and gifts, and a relative visiting (one of the many that could get in the door).
Of course, this activity (and more, but I'm trying to keep these blogs under novel size) is probably why National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite seasonal movies...here's the trailer for that, enjoy...and Happy Pre-Holiday!