Family traditions and a holiday cactus

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, another holiday or nothing at all, this time of the year is full of traditions.

I love traditions and I really love family time. My parents were never into a big Christmas as I was growing up – we didn’t have a Christmas tree, but when I was 3 years old, my mom helped me decorate her huge cactus … Ouch!

But I always got a healthy dose of holiday spirit at my grandparents’ house. Early in December I would spend an entire day with Gran and Gramps, decorating their tree and turning their house into a magical winter wonderland. When I was very young, my Gran and I made a star for the top of the tree using cardboard, glue and lots and lots of glitter! One of my favorite things was the choir of 12 angels that we sat on the mantle. Each angel had been crocheted by my great-grandmother and someday they will be mine.

Gran and I spent Christmas Eve in the kitchen, up to our elbows in dough for homemade rolls. And on Christmas, we always had a big dinner – ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, salad, fresh veggies and more. After we stuffed ourselves, we retired to the living room and I opened gifts from my grandparents and we all relaxed in each other’s company.

I haven’t been home for the holidays since I graduated college and moved to Madison County, and I’ve really missed our family traditions. However, this year Mike and I were ready to start some of our own.

We loaded up the truck at the beginning of December and headed to the hills to find our first tree. It took awhile to locate an evergreen – thanks to junipers masquerading as Christmas trees. Mike spotted one a little way off the road and we parked and struck out to see if it met our requirements. We had our pup, Calamity Jane, with us and while I slogged along through snow on our uphill hike, Jane frolicked. When we reached the only evergreen on the hillside, Mike handed me a saw and put me to work.

Cutting down trees is hard! Even a measly little tree like the one we found! I eventually was successful and Mike graciously dragged the tree downhill and loaded it into the truck.

Now our home is especially cozy thanks to the evergreen, which is decked out in red and gold. Our tree is not perfectly shaped … but it has character! The best part is Mike and I have started a great new tradition.

So however you and yours celebrate the season, I hope you’ll do it with wholehearted enthusiasm and enjoyment.




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