More than just a song lyric, December meant Christmas and presents and trees and NO SCHOOL and family gatherings and cookies and a host of other traditions -- some of which I continue and some of which I now skip.
It's kind of sad, really. But with a full time day job plus a writing career, there are limits to how many Christmas traditions I can carry on.
- Christmas cards: I no longer obsess over the perfect photo and stamps and writing out all those envelopes. Instead, I spend an afternoon calling the people I haven't spoken to all year.
- Christmas shopping: Gone are the days of buying the perfect present for every person in our families. We now do a family grab bag with a $50 limit.
- Christmas dinner: Over the years, we've handled Christmas dinner in a number of different ways. First, my husband's parents used to take everyone out to dinner. But as we added children to the family, this became very expensive. So, we started sharing the holiday. Each year, one sibling hosted the entire family. Then, that became too difficult as we began moving further apart.
- Christmas trip: For a few years, we all met in a central location and rented a home big enough for all 18 of us.
- Christmas baking: Since I was a little girl, baking cookies at Christmas time was a thing. Mom used to bake hand cookies... she'd roll out dough and I'd place my hand on it. She'd carefully trace around my hand with a butter knife, then cut through that outline with a sharp knife. We'd "paint" the nails with sprinkles and other decorations. A whole day was set aside for Italian struffoli, also called honey balls. Over the years, the cookie recipes have changed a bit, but I still bake boatloads every year because my family and friends enjoy those treats so much.
- Christmas decorating: When I was a kid, my grandparents had one of those white trees that rotated on a stand along with a color wheel that changed the tree from white to blue, green, red, and purple. Our own tree was an artificial evergreen. My mom used to do ceramics so we had a little swiss chalet that she'd made and a whole Nativity set. Sadly, those pieces have not survived the years, but I remember unpacking them and setting them up each year. Today, my family decorates a real tree.
- Christmas gathering: We choose an off day -- mid December or early January -- and get together to pick grab bag gifts and just hang out.
- Christmas breakfast: Since my husband and I got married, we've been going out to breakfast on Christmas morning.
- Christmas reading: I looked forward to the same stories. A Christmas Carol. The Gift of the Magi. Even though I'd read thoses stories dozens of times, I looked forward to reading them each year.
Earlier this year, I released my first grown-up romance, a Christmas story called Goodness and Light. Traditions are super important to main character Elena. I borrowed many of my own traditions for this story -- Elena bakes cookies, shops for friends and family, decorates a tree and so on. Like me, Elena mourns for the traditions she no longer continues.
What traditions do you continue? Which ones do you miss? Whether it's Christmas, Hannukah, or Festivus, I wish you all a joyous holiday.