“Home for The Holidays”
- it's a song, a film, and a sentiment that is rather hackneyed this time of year. I love being home for the holidays, but I decided to think a little bit bigger this year. Bigger than connecting with my out-of-state grandparents. Bigger than making time to enjoy festive traditions with my local family and friends. Bigger than our Christmas cookie contest (although that was very interesting!)
This is the time of year everyone spends with people they don't really know...but believe they should somehow feel connected to. Everyone pontificates about slowing down, remembering why we are celebrating, and soaking up this holiday...after all, this is the only Christmas 2012 we will ever have. (I guess if the Mayans get their way we may not get that...:)
But let's say you are taking time to appreciate your family and friends and celebrating your special traditions...what's next?
My family and I are big on holiday traditions.... But one thing we do that keeps the season fresh and interesting is adding a new tradition each year.
This year, the inspiration for our "new" tradition is about 900 years old.... This year, I am exploring my French roots. Although my mom's family has been in America since the 1600s, they left their mark on northeastern France, going back to the 1100s. Someday, I hope to visit the village that bears their surname...and stay in their chateau!
I was happily surprised to discover the deeply religious and sacred focus of traditional French Christmas celebrations. The star of French Christmas decorating is not the tree (which is not widely popular) but the crèche. Christmas Eve is often a time of fasting prior to the Midnight
Mass, which is followed by le Réveillon. This joyful feast (which means “to awaken” or “to revive”) convivially reminds revelers of the significance of Christ’s birth.
Am I excited to embark on this exploration of my heritage simply because I am so happy to be French? (OK, c'est possible)
Regardless of what you initially think about your immediate or far-removed ancestry, I encourage you to check it out. Just like the people we know, our heritage will be speckled with good and bad. And also like the people we know, it can surprise and enrich us in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. At the very least, I hope that researching your past will make you feel connected to both those around you and to a past that you may not yet understand.
So is anyone game? Who knows....as you check out your family history, you may find that we are related! Anyway, we would love to hear if uncovering your family history enriched your holiday experience.
Well, Megan is right....
It has been fun around our house this holiday embracing our French heritage and adding new traditions! But for my "two cents' worth," I want to encourage you to continue to honor your past traditions as well as implementing new ones. Don't discount the importance of your time-honored activities just because the kids are growing up (or completely grown as is my case.) Of course you will adapt as your family matures, but you may be surprised at the traditions that are still meaningful to your children.
When my three were teenagers I assumed they wouldn't want to continue the Christmas cookie and gingerbread house decorating contests, so I didn't get supplies. Much to my surprise, there was protesting and even some "gnashing of teeth." I was informed that, not only did they want to continue this competition, but also that they would be bringing some friends over! (Who knew?)
Fast forward years later and we are still having cookie decorating competitions, they are still bringing friends over, and I am still awarding prizes! (I am not allowed to have favorites, but I do think this melting snow-couple is sweet....)
Some things never change - at least we hope they won't! I am looking forward to continuing this silly tradition for many years and hopefully including my grandchildren some day...(hint, hint)
De notre maison a la voitre ont un merveilleux sens de Noel et plein de joie!
(From our house to yours, have a wonderful and meaningful Christmas full of Joy!)
"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed."