Christmas has not been the same since we moved to Virginia, going on four years now. My children and stepchildren are grown. Most of them have settled in Wisconsin with their families, although some are in California, Michigan, and New Jersey. I’d love to have them here for the holidays, but expecting all twenty+ of them to trek across the country to celebrate Christmas with us is impractical.
Being far from family is hard during the holidays, but we are starting new ‘empty nest’ traditions, and continuing some old ones we have come to cherish.
Earlier this month I finally located my boxes of Santa’s that had been in storage for over three years. I bought my first Santa in 1998, just after my separation, and buying a Santa every year became my new tradition.
I continued the tradition when I remarried, and every year I buy one or two, usually on sale close to Christmas. In fifteen years I’ve managed to collect twenty Santa’s.
This year we bought a live Christmas tree. No, not ‘live’ as in ‘cut down when it was alive and hanging onto life by a thread’, but live as in ‘roots and all, and growing’. It’s a lovely Norfolk pine, about three feet high. We had to go out and buy miniature ornaments and lights for it, and put it on one an old wooden chest so it looks taller. The first couple of days I looked at it and thought ‘oh my, it’s scraggly’, which changed into ‘I guess it’s kind of cute’, to ‘I’m really starting to like our little live tree’. It’s – pardon the pun – growing on me.
Talking about growing, my roots have started to take hold here in Virginia. I managed to put down some fairly deep roots in the eleven years I lived in Wisconsin – the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place. No wonder I felt a little transient at first.
Tomorrow I’m going to partake in another new tradition – baking rusks for my children. Rusks are a South African tradition and are akin to biscotti but more hardy, made for dunking in your coffee without falling apart. They are a bit of rigmarole to make – but always bring a smile to my children’s faces.
What are your old – and new – Christmas and holiday traditions?
p.s. The humbug I am referring to is a hard peppermint candy – which is actually quite good to eat.