By Lori Berezovsky ι Dec. 5, 2013
This year Christmas will be extra special because I’ll actually get to spend it with my mom. It’s been years since we’ve been together at this time of year, and now that we live in the same city, we won’t have to worry about snowstorms preventing our get together. All those years we were apart for the holidays, though, I still carried out our family’s Christmas traditions. Most of the holiday traditions that I hold dear were formed when I was a child. For example, our family was an Open Gifts on Christmas Eve sort, but also waited for Santa to arrive and then opened some more gifts on Christmas morning. (wink, wink)
The Christmas Day menu might change from year to year, but one thing that could not change, under any circumstances, was the meal on Christmas Eve: spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. My parents hosted Christmas for many years, and I have a feeling this tradition evolved out of my mother’s desperation at having to fix meals for many people two days in a row. It doesn’t matter to me how it started. I have no intention of breaking the tradition, and my husband has happily bought in to it, too.
Somewhere in the house, usually on a windowsill, the salt and pepper shakers known as “Mr. and Mrs. Santa” must be displayed. Mom finally gave them to me outright a few years ago, knowing how much I loved them. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have them, and as a child I played with them (very carefully, or else!). Nevertheless, some of the paint is chipped and worn, which makes me love them all the more. Mom’s three angel bells also must make an appearance. Purchased when I was a tot for probably $1 on a sale table, these angels have always remained my ultimate Christmas decoration. I was completely bowled over with their sparkly beauty and was too enamored with them to play with them. Plus, they were bells, so if I did play with them, their ringing gave me away. The angels always have a place of honor during the Christmas season, and unpacking them each year is like seeing a dear friend after a long absence.
There is one tradition that I started as an adult: On Christmas Eve, after the church service and the spaghetti dinner; after the gifts have been opened and the cats have grown tired of playing with ribbons, we get out a copy of Clement Moore’s “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and read it aloud. This poem brings back all the wonder and magic that Christmas held for me as a child. There’s something about that first line, “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” that plays into that childlike wonder.
One Christmas Eve, when I was around 7-years-old, I heard Santa on our roof! I was completely convinced that there could be no other explanation for the sound of hooves and jingle bells coming from the roof that night. Of course it was Santa!
Years later, my dad confessed. He’d gone out on the front porch, stomped around and jingled the bells hanging on the front door. He had no idea at the time that I would wake up and hear it, nor that I’d think it was Santa Claus. And he certainly didn’t know that it would become my most favorite Christmas memory to this day.
Christmas traditions don’t have to be fancy or expensive. They don’t have to be planned or even make sense. All that matters is that they mean something to you, and in the keeping of those traditions, they bring back good memories and a big healthy dose of Christmas wonder.
Lori Berezovsky is the library’s Outreach Coordinator.