Linenberger: Christmas traditions
The evidence was there year after year.
On Christmas Day, outside our front door, it never failed — a tiny bell or two could be found. These, of course, belonged to Rudolph or his compadres. And then there was the standard milk and cookies, which, during the course of the clock turning from Christmas Eve to Christmas morning, was consumed.
Santa and his reindeer somehow visited, even though our faux fireplace, complete with a stack of artificial wood, didn’t have a chimney. But as a youngster, it doesn’t matter. Santa has his ways of making sure you have a present for Christmas.
As I grew older, that tradition no longer was necessary. When news broke about Santa’s true identity, I surmised the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny’s true identities as well.
Christmas traditions change through the years. Christmas Eve, during my childhood and into high school, wasn’t complete without chicken salad and ham salad sandwiches as well as a stellar soup and other goodies at my grandparents’ home. Grandpa would always hand out small presents on Christmas Eve, which usually was a cake mix or the like.
Then came Midnight Mass, which was always such a peaceful service. Of course, as a youth, sometimes it was so peaceful that the time of day left me trying not to fall asleep. When a convenience store in my hometown still was open 24 hours, we kept to a tradition of having a cup of coffee after Mass. Presents then would be opened when we came home from the coffee stop or later in the morning.
Of course, like all traditions, they come to an end.
The convenience store no longer is open 24 hours. Mass is offered Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but not at midnight.
Your traditions change a bit too when your own personal jolly elves are no longer around. Grandpa no longer is here to give me that box of cake mix or pull my leg with one of his many stories. Dad, meanwhile isn’t around to belt out “Go Tell It On the Mountain” at Christmas Mass or flash a big grin when he opens presents from grandkids (or even the occasional Tonka truck from me when I was a child. Yes, I was so “thoughtful.”)
But we know they’re still with us. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be reminiscing of great traditions of yesteryear.
Though some traditions have passed, others carry on. All of my uncles, aunts and cousins get together for a post-Christmas gathering, whether it’s in January or later.
Uncle Clete sets a price for gifts, which usually is less than $2, which leads to several gag gifts being handed out.
My uncle always has awards and prizes to hand out for the best gifts. For some reason, his sister, Aunt Theresa, always manages to be awarded some magnificent prize for her gift — usually a gaudy vase of some sort.
May your Christmas be merry, blessed and filled with great memories. And may you not receive an ugly vase.