Monday, January 29, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Even though both our families seemed to have the tradition of putting up a Christmas tree each year of our childhood, my husband and I never carried the tradition into our marriage until this past Christmas. In fact, we really have had very few set things we do for any holiday or birthday. The biggest factor was that upon our return to the US, the majority of our married life had been spent in a different culture where our tradtional American holidays, including Christmas, were not celebrated. But that factor was not our only deterent to having a Christmas tree.
My husband has never been keen on the pagan roots of the tradition and I am not fond of the thought that along with a tree is a focus on gifts. Gifts were not a huge part of my Christmas growing up. I think my fondest memories of a tree centered on the trek we children would take each year with our father into the snowy tree farm looking for just right size tree that would fit into our tiny living room. Then around the tree we would help Dad build a platform for my brother's train, the highlight of our holiday entertainment. After Christmas the tree would be set out on our front porch awaiting the thaw when we would plant the tree in our yard.
But I guess having children has changed our attitudes toward traditions. Our two oldest children have had several craft activities now where the teachers have assumed all homes have a Christmas tree. Plus the children love the lights. So this year my husband and I decided to take the plunge and bought an artificial tree ... our focus???? .... we have many old ornaments made by relatives from years past and now our children are making their own. Perhaps that will be our focus for them, helping them to think of the people who made or gave us each ornament and adding their own each year -- for the reality is that we are not going to be trekking out to dig our own tree each year and we do not wish to fill the floor with tons of gifts each year.
I guess all traditions need a focus that connects with the practice. Perhaps that is the hardest part, giving meaning to the practice that fits your perspective on life and desired values. One thing I have been learning about myself is that I'm not one to rush into traditions until I gain a meaningful understanding of their purpose. It helps me keep life simple by adding only those things that have genuine meaning, not all the frills that just help me blend in with society.