Well, it’s Christmas time pretty baby
And the snow is falling on the ground
Well, it’s Christmas time pretty baby
And the snow is falling down
Well you be a real good little girl
Santa Claus is back in town
Got no sleigh with reindeer
No sack on my back
You’re gonna see me comin’ in a big black caddilac
This was my favourite Christmas song growing up. No really, it was! I listened to it over and over and over again. It may in fact have been the first time I was exposed to old-school rock and roll, and it blew my mind. You really have to listen to it to appreciate it’s magic, because the lyrics leave something to be desired. Full on rock and roll, groovy Christmas, with some subtle sexiness on the side (which Elvis did oh so well), oh and an amazing jazz piano solo. Now I rock out to it with my own kids. Tradition. It is not something I would have guessed would become so important to me, but it is.
Christmas means different things to different people. During a really difficult time in my life when I was at the tender age of 20 and planning to move out on my own for the first time, I really started thinking about what the holidays really meant to me. It was a tumultuous time on my Mother’s side of the family with an immense amount of change being imposed on me and for the first time in my life, I was an adult, living on my own, paying my own way, and I was in a position for the first time ever in my life to choose for myself what I wanted. So, out of a really difficult situation that hurt me deeply and left me feeling really alone, came a really wonderful opportunity (as often happens). The opportunity to really do some soul searching and decide who I was and what I believed in and valued. I was extremely fortunate to have a really solid group of friends around me and my then boyfriend who was later to become my husband and partner for life.
After digging into my own heart for answers, I realized that what hurt the most about everything I was going through with my family was the loss of history and tradition. I realized that the real glue that holds a family together are the things that we repeat. Our rituals. We have all kinds of new experiences every day, but tradition allows for a regular check-in on our roots and they become the milestones for the passage of time. All you have to do is look back at old photos. Before the era of smart phones, people only pulled out their cameras during special occasions (a.k.a. traditions). Most of my childhood photos were from Christmas, Easter, Summer Holidays and Birthdays. Our traditions are our culture. It is the fabric that holds us together. It is the music we listen to, the food we eat, the sayings and expressions we say, and all the rituals we carry out together in bond.
So, I started over. I began again from scratch and I built my own traditions. I dug in my own roots, deep and wide, and made my own glue, thick and strong. At first, Gregory (then my boyfriend) thought it was all a little too much. I insisted that we go and get a real Christmas tree on the first weekend of December, every year without fail. I made sure we blasted Christmas carols in the car on the way. I decorated every square inch of our apartment and made a Christmas list of all my favourite classic Christmas tunes, which I played constantly until New Years. I trekked down to the other end of the city every year to get fresh perogies made by local Ukrainian ladies. I learned how to make a turkey and wrap gifts like a champ. I was an epically annoying Christmas elf that Gregory learned to tolerate! Then we had children. Then, Gregory got it! I had been nesting. Digging in the roots and building a strong foundation of tradition. When he saw how much joy they got out of it, and how much more magic was created by their knowing expectation of all the fun and magical rituals that were awaiting them as the holiday season approached, he understood. It’s about belonging. When you know the rituals and are part of the traditions, you belong, and the bond is strengthened. This was what I was building. Every year, my sons know what to expect and we all take comfort in the traditions that bring us together and strengthen our connection. We drink eggnog, sing carols and decorate the tree. We eat together, we laugh together and we build memories together. So, what does Christmas mean to me? Christmas is about traditions that stand the test of time and ride the waves of change unscathed.
Merry Christmas everyone and the most joyful and prosperous New Year from our family to yours!
NEW FASHION: This incredibly adorable and insanely perfect for the holidays Velvet Colorblock Mini Dress by Tony Chestnut Design (An amazing Winnipeg designer who is rocking my world these days! You need to check out her work!) Knee-high socks by American Apparel.