The holiday traditions begin at my house when we bring those aging boxes of decorations out of storage. Then we start talking about what to make for Christmas dinner and who will be at the table, when to set up the tree, when to start writing out the Christmas cards and the presents to buy.

My husband takes the delight of a child in setting up his nativity set. When we were first married, he had a set of mismatched figures and we never seemed to notice that the animals were plastic and the shepherd towered over the Holy Family.  Somewhere along the way, my mother bought him an Italian set to which she adds; the set is now 30 pieces strong.  Each year, as if it is a new project, the proper location must be decided – and after much thought, it seems to always go in the same place; but don’t tell him that!

I have an angel made of silver and gold paper that was a gift to me on my 1st Christmas. 60 years later, she is still being set out to watch over our festivities.  Even though each year I am certain she will never survive another Christmas, somehow, she manages to hang on!

Clear lights or colorful ones? My husband and I both grew up with dads who insisted on using the colorful C9 lights on the tree.  Both of us prefer the clear white mini lights and my husband prefers the tradition that I am the one to light the tree!  To the sound of Christmas music, I put the lights on our live tree, another tradition, and we begin the process of putting the ornaments on.  Since our childhoods, we have had ornaments that have special meaning to each of us.  There is no way I would hang the blue crab, given to my husband, any more than he would hang the felt ornaments I made in college when I couldn’t afford to buy them.  With each ornament that goes on the tree we marvel and laugh about their meanings – each has special significance.

There is a comfort in having holiday traditions.   It’s a time to build lifelong memories with your families so generations from now, they too will be hanging “special” ornaments on their trees, putting out the Christmas village houses, eating vegetables prepared just the way Aunt Bea’s recipe suggests and telling the stories to their children about what the holiday means to them.

Once my husband and I have finished decorating the tree, we turn off all of the lights and sit to admire the annual miracle we like to refer to as “the prettiest tree we have ever had”!   We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with family and friends.