But this year things are a little different.
My daughter Kate is in Bosnia. (That's in Europe, used to be Yugoslavia, for those of you who need a geography and history refresher.) This is the first time in our family's history that one member is missing for the holidays.
So, the tradition of Kate pulling the boxes out of storage was broken. I pulled them out myself. The tradition of Kate taking out the Dickens Village was broken. I didn't even bother setting it up. The tradition of a mauve mini tree with pink lights in a pink room was broken. The mauve tree sat forlornly in the storage room, leaning to the left against the wall, and the pink room is now a boyish blue, black and brown.
I wasn't really sad...it just felt odd. I missed her, but not mournfully so. I thought about how she was going to celebrate Christmas so far from home, and I was excited thinking about how we would Skype while she opened the presents I had bought way back in August and stuffed into her stocking. It was important to me to send her gifts inside her stocking, as stockings are one of our family's most treasured traditions. I wrapped the filled stocking in brown paper, marked it "Christmas," and packed it in her suitcase. We would have Christmas together, it would just be different.
I went back into the storage room and lifted out the little pink tree. I set it right in the family room and decorated it in mauve, ivory and gold. Now I see Kate's Christmas Tree every day and think of her in her cozy bedroom in Bosnia, tucked in bed under the slanted eaves of her European home while the snow falls on the mountain she lives on overlooking the beautiful city of Sarajevo. This is just the beginning of broken traditions, I suppose. The kids are growing up and are at various stages of nesting. I don't know what next year will be like...or the year after that. But one thing I do know, and that is this: Traditions aren't about doing the same thing over and over again. Traditions are consistent actions that convey a sense of family love and loyalty. Although the actions themselves may change over the years, the love and loyalty remain. I believe traditions aren't really broken, they're just reinvented. And those traditions I intend to keep!
|Kate's Christmas Tree|
|Kate in her snowy backyard in Sarajevo|