Take the time to enjoy your holiday traditions

Our family has honed our Christmas customs. The traditions have remained almost constant for more than 30 years, and many stem back to my Scottish and English ancestry.
Christmas supper will see anywhere from 14-18 family and friends gathered around my mother’s dining room table.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my sister and her sons will have gone to mom’s home and will have carried up the large 4’x10’ board to stretch the table.
Mom’s hand-crocheted lace table cloth will sit over a white linen cloth. Candles and a centrepiece will be aligned down the centre.
For Christmas, we will eat from mom’s “Company China” dishes with her gleaming silverware. Today, it only happens once a year. The “Waterford” crystal wine glasses and water goblets will sparkle in the light cast from the crystal chandelier.
In front of each place setting, a hand-crafted “bobbin” person with a guest’s name on it will sit inviting the person to sit at that spot at the table. Missing family members will have their name person in the centre of the table.
When the family arrives late on Christmas afternoon, the aromas of roasting turkey, plum pudding, and other once-a-year dishes will have filled my mother’s home. Many of the dishes have found their way from my grandparents to my parents and now on to our children.
My mother, today in her mid-80s, plays host to all of us. The cooking is done by family and is very much potluck, although no family member will ever arrive with any food that doesn’t meet the most rigorous test for freshness and flavour.
Each dish is a treat.
Mom’s tree sparkles with all its lights and ornaments gathered from her children and grandchildren, each with a memory. It probably has been up for three weeks. It used to be a natural tree but now is a “fake,” but still is just perfect.
But before the meal is eaten, the traditions that build to this day have begun weeks and months before. Outdoor lights have been hung, nativity scenes have been placed out in prominence, and Christmas ornaments decorate the interiors of homes.
In our home, an old-fashioned miniature “Christmas” village sits atop a blanket of snow on the fireplace mantle, lit with tiny lights that brings life to the interior of every building. The Christmas village was a tradition in my wife’s family, and she and our two sons built and painted each new building.
Miniature people, trees, benches, and street lights have been added over the years.
Christmas customs and celebrations are different in every family, but the warmth and comfort they provide pass from generation to generation, with each one adding some new wrinkle to the celebration of the holiday season.
I hope that each and every one takes the time to enjoy their traditions that have been created over lifetimes.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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