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Mom's Time Out

Holiday Traditions

Mary Angel

(Dec, 2010) With Christmas quickly approaching I decided I wanted to do a holiday themed article for the paper this month, but what to write about. This truly is my favorite time of year, like so many others, but do I write about the spirit of Christmas (that's been done), or the wonderful family time we spend (also done), or do I take a comic spin on the holiday and look at the trials of shopping. Christmas shopping for me starts as soon as the holiday is over the year before. A little something here and there throughout the year until about the beginning of November. That is when it hits me that I really haven't accomplished much and should probably get busy. This brings me to the ominous "Black Friday". Before children, and sleepless nights, I used to love to get up at the crack of dawn with the rest of the crazies and head to the stores before they opened. A few years ago (5 or 6) I started a "girls" weekend with my Mom-in-Law, and now two daughters, heading to my Moms on Black Friday for a weekend of Christmas shopping and girly stuff. By the time we hit our first store the Black Friday crowds are still there but not as ravenous. The trade off is a lot of the shelves are bare. This inspired a trip to a popular store on Black Friday at 1am to stand in several long lines, inside and out.

This brings me to the real holiday topic of my article: Family Traditions. The thing I love best about this time of year is my traditions, and my "girls" weekend as made that all too apparent to me. So that is what my article will be about. Traditions aren't always easy and they don't always start with an agenda in mind but that is how they end up. When I started going to my moms with my Mom-in-Law it was not with the intention of starting a tradition, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. I am one of the fortunate women who are blessed with a Mom and Mom-in-Law that have always gotten along and in recent years come to call each other friend, good friend. Besides me and my Mom-in-Law, the occupants in the car for that trip have changed over the years as it became girls only, and I gave birth to two little bundles of feminine joy. Since my Mom lives on the eastern shore near OC, my Dad now drops her off to meet us at the outlets in Queenstown so we can begin the "girls" weekend even sooner. I am getting excited just writing this for you, I truly can't wait. I am someone who never realized until recent years how important traditions are to me...super important.

I struggled for years with the fact that my family Christmas was different every year to accommodate family. When I was a little girl my Grandparents on my Mom's side lived in Baltimore city and we didn't see them as much as I would have liked, but every Christmas was the same. Christmas Eve we went to my Grandparents and had dinner then headed to church for midnight mass. The church was a giant old high Episcopal church in the city and on Christmas Eve they would have the most wonderful service with carols and incense and the whole kit and caboodle. When we left church, if we could stay awake for the ride home, we could open our gifts from Santa. Since it was after midnight he had always been to my grandparents by the time we got there. If we fell asleep, which we tried very hard not too, then my parents would carry us in the house and we would get up in the morning and open our presents. We would then get up Christmas morning and go home to find that Santa had been at our house while we were gone. I don't remember much from my childhood, but I will never forget this. I am pretty sure this is my motivation (obsession) with tradition.

This year will be our first Christmas without my Father-in-law and I am crying as I type this. He was a huge part of our current tradition for me. I have explained our "girls" weekend to you but have left out that the girls weekend has inadvertently created a boys weekend as well. When the girls leave the boys will play. So after my Dad drops my Mom off to meet us (and sometimes has lunch with his granddaughters) then he keeps headed in west to join the boys. In this I am doubly blessed in that my Dad and my Father-in-law also called one another friend and those weekends were some of the fondest memories my boys will have from their childhood. This year that all changes since my Father-in-law passed in June from cancer. I know in my heart that all of my boys (husband and Dad included) will still make sure there is a great time had by all, but it will never be the same. This year the four boys are planning on putting up my Mom-in-laws Christmas tree and decorations as a surprise for her. This was something she used to do with my father-in-law. So traditions are a wonderful, heartwarming addition to any family and although it is very difficult when something happens to change them, it doesn't take away from all of the memories you have to cherish for years to come.

At this busy time of year may I suggest that you take a look at one of your traditions and if you find you don't have any maybe you will start one. You may look around and find that your holidays are already filled with wonderful friend and family traditions. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Read other articles by Mary Angel