Christmas Traditions

Like many families, my family holds holiday customs near and dear to their hearts. Once a custom, there can never be any variation from the standard …“that’s the way we always do it!” Christmas traditions range around the world and the heritage of a family may determine the traditions utilized. My family roots are Polish, which celebrates with a Wigilia, and German where the glass pickle is popular. The Advent season is a big part of the Christmas as well.

Traditions can range the gamut from the place where the Christmas tree is cut down/purchased to where the tree is displayed in the home and even the placement of favored ornaments on the tree. A certain gifts are customary; the cozy socks and warm pajamas. Every year my children receive a Hallmark dated ornament from their grandparents, and when they are on their own, there tree will be filled with these tokens of affection representing what their interests were at each stage of their life! Our family has an ornament that somehow became the darling of the family over the years; she is a wisp of an angel made from wood shavings and feathers; she sways to and fro when someone passes by the tree! Last year, I re-created an angel for each of my children as a keepsake! Each year as the ornaments decorate the tree, the collection of sentimental ornaments evokes fond memories.

Of course, the food is always a big part of the merriment! Special candies, cookies and recipes that if absent, the celebration just would not be complete! Since my family is Polish, we have been making Chrusciki cookies since I was very young… we are blessed to still have our grandparents with the tradition continuing! There is also the tradition of cutout cookies joyfully adorned in colored sugars and yummy Special K cookies as well as the buckeyes and orange drops! Every year a new cookie recipe is tried and added to the cookie plate!

There may be traditions unique to a town or village and many churches have distinct traditions that make the season joyous. Each year my family attends the annual holiday stroll down Main Street, the night festive with shoppers, carolers and a trolley! Our church has a Hanging of the Greens where ornaments are handcrafted and used to decorate the church tree! It is a fun-filled day!

A tradition that began when my children were very small was cutting down the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Many years later with a plethora of funny stories, this tradition lives on. Armed with hot chocolate and delicious turkey sandwiches we travel to our favorite tree farm to hunt for THE perfect tree! When we find it, we sing “O Christmas Tree” loudly and with laughter! Since the weather in the Northeast can be very chilly and snowy, it is always an adventure. Sometimes, the weather is balmy and only sweaters are needed; this year was one of the rarer warm ones! And the stories… the time the keys were locked in the car; another time the car would not start! One year we helped a family when their tree fell off their car on the highway and later received a gift from them in the mail. Then, the year when I decided to cut down a sparse tree; and I still take a ribbing about that tree with about twelve scrawny branches; it was unique for sure! We have an ornament that somehow became the darling of the family, she is a wisp of an angel made from wood shavings and feathers; she sways to and fro when someone passes by the tree! Last year, I replicated the angel for each of my children as a keepsake!

Traditions spell L-O-V-E, the affection of family and the heartwarming feeling we obtain from these distinctive and treasured handed-down rituals.

May your Christmas season be blessed with family, friends and happy traditions to pass along the generations!

Karen Soldwisch of Synergy Jewelry and Collectibles


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