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Merry family gatherings
December 6, 2010
by Jenni Sebora

The holidays are about traditions shared between loved ones, friends, and maybe even strangers.

We look forward to those traditions each season and find comfort, solitude, and familiarity with them. I spent my childhood growing up on a farm, which set the stage for its own traditions.

I remember my father beginning the evening milking a little earlier on Christmas Eve so our family could attend Christmas Eve service. It was so special, sitting together in church as a family on this special evening before the day that we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

Our family attended church regularly, but there was something special about attending the Christmas Eve service.

It was one evening where my parents did not have to tell my twin brother and me to go to bed. There was such anticipation for Christmas morning to arrive, and to awake to the living-room overflowing (not literally) with presents. I would have to say that Santa spoiled us.

A favorite gift I received one year was a doll that was half my size. My daughter now has that doll, which she has named Angela. It has some marker stains on the face and its hair is matted, but it has become a favorite of my daughter’s. We now play “Angela House” in the doll’s honor. This has become a tradition in our family.

Each family has its own traditions to share. I was listening to the radio, 107.9, in which listeners shared holiday traditions. One woman wrote that each Christmas Eve, the members of her family open one present each – a gift of new pajamas to wear to bed and wake up in on Christmas morning. My family, too, engages in this same tradition. It is my favorite family gift purchase.

On a recent shopping trip, actually the date I wrote this article, I was purchasing some stocking stuffers in the candy aisle. Some grandparents were doing the same. We engaged in conversation, and they shared with me that they, too, purchase stocking stuffers each Christmas, for their 10 grandchildren, who currently range in age from 10 to 22. Each year, they buy them plastic candy canes filled with some type of candy.

It really isn’t about the candy, but about the love that goes into the thought and giving of the gifts and the traditions and memories shared.

This couple spent much time contemplating which candy they should purchase for each one of them. Their grandchildren remind them each year that they love receiving these stocking stuffers, no matter their age. For these grandchildren, I am sure it, too, isn’t about the candy, but about the love and the security of this special tradition.

“The merry family gatherings – The old, the very young. The strangely lovely way they Harmonize in carols sung. For Christmas is tradition time – Traditions that recall The precious memories down the years. The sameness of them all.” – Helen Lowrie Marshall

Our family, as with many, hangs Christmas stockings, awaiting to be filled with some surprise for the ownes. Our stockings hold special meaning, because they were made by my sister-in-law. Each one depicts a different Christmas scene. Each Christmas, when we unpack those stockings and hang them, I smile and think of the love that went into making them.

Whatever the traditions may be, precious memories are made, shared, and passed on. There is great comfort in the sameness of traditions shared.