Holiday traditions are something we value because they tell us where we came from and give us a sense of belonging, at least that is what they do for me.
Our family celebrates our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Mom said that when we were little, and she would make a big Christmas Day dinner, we were all so exited and tired from the day’s events that none of us would eat. She worked so hard to make a nice meal and it went to waste. She decided to change it to Christmas Eve. Then, if we ate well, after dinner we each were allowed to open one gift from under the tree. Thus began our Christmas Eve celebration.
For as long as I can remember, Mom and Dad made kielbasa for Christmas. They made enough for our family but also made it to sell to friends as well. We always had a plate of kielbasa on the table for Christmas dinner and more for Christmas breakfast. Now that Dad is gone, my brother has taken over that tradition and he makes the sausage. I am glad that this will carry on.
As wonderful as traditions are, they have to change when they no longer work, or as families grow and change. Mom and Dad used to make the entire meal and everyone went to their house. They liked it that way and so did everyone else. As they began to age, all the work and commotion was too much for them and we began to take turns having it elsewhere. And we began to share the responsibility and everyone contributed to the meal. It has become more relaxed and less formal. I think we all loved the formal days of the past. That was how Mom taught us which fork to use and when. We dressed up and the TV was off. We each got a sip of champagne. Sometimes we had relatives from up north, but mostly it was just the six of us. And as our family grew, we made room for more.
As us kids grew up and moved away, we developed our own holiday traditions. But every time we came home for the holidays, we could depend on it being the way we remembered. I hope that our nieces and nephews will fondly remember their childhood traditions as much as I remember mine. I also hope their parents mixed in some of what Mom and Dad gave us into that tradition.