It’s Your Thing (but it ain’t mine)
Posted by wendiwendy
There are a few perfectly wonderful and fun holiday traditions that we have just never adopted. Such as:
St. Nicholas Day
I actually never even knew this existed until Eric got into elementary school. One day he came home from school waving a piece of paper, absolutely thrilled about the fact that St. Nicholas was going to fill his shoe with goodies that night. I read over the paper, which described the origins of St. Nicholas Day and this wonderful tradition, and thought, “Oh shit.” I mean, wow – thanks for the heads up, teacher! I kind of played it off, telling him that I wasn’t sure St. Nicholas visited our house…but he was sure that was just because he’d never put his shoe out before.
So I managed to sneak out of the house, leaving Dave in charge, while I bought some candy (and cursed the teacher). The kids both woke up to treats in their shoes, which they had dutifully left outside their bedroom door that night.
I believe we might have done this another year or two, but once the teachers stopped bringing it up, I forgot about it again and so did the kids. (As a side note…kind of weird to have this come up in public school, where they didn’t even say “Merry Christmas” in this politically-correct day and age.)
Putting the tree up on Christmas Eve and having Santa decorate it
I’m sitting here trying to remember if I actually ever knew anyone that did this. It seems like maybe some people on my parenting email lists way back in the day might have mentioned it as a tradition. Mostly I remember seeing this in movies, or reading about it in books. It always sounded kind of cool – you wait until Christmas Eve, set up the tree, then get up in the morning and Santa has decorated it for you!
But I was A) too anxious to get my Christmas decorations up, and could never, ever have waited that long to have a tree; B) too freaking tired after waiting out my kids on Christmas Eve night before I could set out the Santa gifts and fill stockings (they seemed to fall asleep later and later as the years went by)…there was no way I had the energy to decorate the tree as well; and C) too used to having decorations up for at least a month – I decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving and take everything down after New Years. Having the tree up just for a week or so seemed sad to me.
My mom was here visiting today, and I mentioned how we never went caroling. I had barely finished speaking when she said, “But Wendi, you can’t sing.” Truer words were never spoken. My mom and brother can tell lots of stories about standing outside my closed bedroom door, laughing as I tunelessly wailed along to my Donny Osmond records. I am not only deaf-deaf, I’m also tone-deaf!
I do remember going out with neighborhood friends when I was really young, and going to at least a few houses to sing our favorite Christmas carols. This was not organized with sheet music or anything – just a bunch of little kids standing on your porch, belting out “Jingle Bells” until you opened the door. I told Dave the other day that I can’t even remember ever seeing anyone go caroling in the neighborhood, and certainly never here in this neighborhood. I can’t imagine anyone would even open the door, if they did hear you.
The one time I did the organized Christmas carols thing was the one winter I lived in Kentucky. My boyfriend’s family did this as a tradition and it kind of blew my mind – there were a lot of people, all dressed in warm winter finery, sheet music in hand. They handed me my music and I stood in the back, mouthing the words but making sure no sound actually came out of my mouth. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin their beautiful harmonies! (Not that I never sing, mind you – I sang to my kids, I sing to the cats all the time, and I’ll belt out an atonal Happy Birthday without any shame.)
Fa la la la la…