Monday, December 10, 2012


Not sure why I associate Fiddler on the Roof with Christmas... but, cue Tevye.

Israeli actor Topol as Tevye in the 1971 film
release of Fiddler on the Roof.
 "A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay here if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!
Because of our traditions, we have kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to how to eat, how to sleep, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer-shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I'll tell you. I don't know. But it's a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do.
Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!"
Maybe more than Christmas itself it's a manifestation of my yearning to establish some meaningful traditions to help things feel okay even in the midst of life's chaos.  And Christmas is a time when family traditions are so very evident.  Last year was pretty much devoid of all things holiday and this year I'll be observing how my family-to-be does things so it's another time when I feel like I'm kind of aimlessly drifting, un-grounded and more than a little bit shaky.  That also makes it a good time to explore the traditions of other families to see if they feel like something we might want to add when Derek and I get our own home established.  I still have to wait and see what he says, but here are three that appeal to me:
Designed with 50 small acts to teach children the value of serving others rather than just collecting presents for themselves, Light 'Em Up is an idea I'd modify to 24 quirky and fun acts of service (including family, friends, neighbors and random strangers) that could be done as a couple and use it as an Advent, or countdown to Christmas.  Click the link under the picture for more details.  My thought is that it would be great fun for just the two of us and it satisfies my need to de-commercialize Christmas a bit.

And while others will likely host family festivities on Christmas day for the foreseeable future, I like the idea of a more low-key get together on Christmas Eve.  Maybe a potluck, a chili feed or a spaghetti dinner?

Vintage blown glass ornaments
I'd also like to collect an ornament from each place that we travel that speaks to what was special about that locale so that putting them on the tree is a reminder of wonderful vacation memories and tells our own personal family story.  I think that sounds so much nicer than just using the non-descript glass balls and tinsel from any mall in America.  And at the beginning of December, gather family and/or friends to decorate house and tree.  It's a great time to tell stories, drink hot chocolate or apple cider and make s'mores in the fireplace.

Those are a few of the ideas I have now.  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

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