Tag Archives: growing up

Why Traditions Are Important


*orginally published 12/6/15

Traditions inform us of our past and can influence our future. They teach us lessons- about simpler times, what is truly important and sometimes they remind us of traditions that need to be changed. Memories are held in traditions- both of loved ones who have passed as well as life events. As for many others, Christmas is a time of year that holds many sacred traditions in my life.

I see all of the pictures people post of their beautiful Christmas trees, many with specific themes and decorations that are well balanced and color coordinated. That is not my tree.

My tree is a wondrous hodge podge of ornaments that go together only because they all hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorite days of the entire year is the day I decorate my tree. When I turn on Christmas music, and one by one open each bin and unwrap each ornament. Sometimes ornaments make me smile and sometimes they make me cry. Every one of them reminds me of a time or event or feeling or person. I don’t rearrange the ones my daughter puts on the tree- sometimes too close together. That is part of the charm- part of my tradition.

In our house, there are plenty of ornaments representing our love of pop-culture.

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Barbie guest singing with the Max Rebo Band

We get new ornaments every year that usually represent something we love, a time in our life or someone’s personality.

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Yoda and a Grasshopper I bought the hubby because I am cruel. He notoriously hates grasshoppers and I could not resist. 

On my mother’s side of the family, once all of the cousins became adults, there were a few years in which we made ornaments for each other as gifts. One year we even made one together- snowmen out of clay that heavily suggested their poop (snowballs) was for sale. My poop selling snowman is broken, though I did find his arm in one of the boxes. Two amazing things came out of that rather short-lived tradition. 1. The fact that we now do a White Elephant gift exchange, which is even more fun with my Great Aunt Trudi as the wildcard- swooping out of nowhere to steal kinda random gifts, and inadvertently breaking up coalitions, and 2. This nativity made in the image of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as S’mores. My cousin glued a bunch of these together, before we even had kids, and I love her that much more for it.

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Perhaps we started the tradition of making ornaments to exchange, because every year my Pop-pop would carve and paint Santa ornaments for all of us. Every year a different design. These are some of my very favorite on the tree. Pop-pop died in June 8 years ago. He never met any of his great-grands, but my daughter knows about him because at the very least, once a year, she looks at the ornaments he made, listening to me talk about him as she traces her fingers along the ridges of the wood carvings. I remember that first Christmas after he died, walking into my Mom-mom’s home knowing I would never get another Pop-pop ornament. But what an amazing and gut-wrenching surprise when we learned my uncle found the carved, but unfinished ornaments Pop-pop had already started and he finished them.

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The last Pop-pop Santa Ornament

I have ornaments memorializing people, as well as welcoming people into the world or my life. Ornaments marking events like trips or my first house. Plenty that are handmade, some by my grandmothers, some by Matt’s, some by me. Beautiful, delicate glass ornaments as well as weird ones. A ton from the dollar store that I bought the year I moved out and had my own tree. Large, smooth carved wood block ornaments Matt’s father made- three of them- one hanging by each of our Stockings.

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My very favorite Santa Pop-pop made. Picture of when the hubby and Newt made The Paper because they were so adorable at a Christmas tree lighting.

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Your tree will never be as cool as mine as you probably DO NOT have a rhino doing karate. Top right- the memorial ornament my sister made the year my step-dad died.

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Top right is Askasleikir (Bowl-licker) my folks brought back from Iceland. Bottom left- one of the first ornaments my sweetie and I got together.

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The ornament from the year I was pregnant- the ultasound picture. The weird looking blown glass cupcake thing was my mother in laws- one of my favorites!

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Matt’s grandmother painted the tree. The cute baby is from my first niece’s first Christmas. I may have yet another niece before this Christmas comes. 

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Gigi cross stitched this probably circa 1986

I have ornaments from my best friends. Some of those ornaments are from the days before we were married, before we had kids. The days that we would sit on my back porch smoking clove cigarettes, drinking mixed drinks made from cheap rum or tequila and talking about guys- some of whom later became husbands. Some of those ornaments are from more recent times, when we now we sit in the air conditioning, drinking craft beer or red wine, smoking absolutely nothing, as we listen to the squeals and laughter of our girls in the next room- making memories and friendships to last a lifetime. Sometimes we still talk about our guys, but we also talk about things like plantar fasciitis and the benefits of supportive walking shoes and podiatry.

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Handmade ornament of one of my childhood homes- made with love and irony from a BFF.

So many memories were shared with me by my parents when decorating the tree and even more were made. Because of my mom, the BEST Christmas records (yes- I said records because that is what we listened to and I promise you- she still has them all) will always be Alabama Christmas  , Oak Ridge Boys Christmas and Willie Nelson Pretty Paper, and I always cry when Santa comes at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Because of my other mom- Deb, I will always have a real Christmas tree and love cool, vintage ornaments. Like my moms did, I tell my daughter the stories behind the ornaments and like I did when I was a child, my daughter is super excited initially and then gives up about a quarter of the way through decorating- leaving the rest to me. And so, some traditions carry on…..



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“Cherish every second. It goes by so fast.”


Newt starts kindergarten a week from tomorrow. I think I’m ready.

I know that SHE is ready.

I vividly remember crying when she was 4 months old and the then 5 year olds were starting school. I remember dreading the day when she would start school. Granted….this was before I fully recognized I had a nasty case of postpartum anxiety, but that’s a post for another time. That child and that mom seem like strangers to me now.

Newt went to kindergarten camp at her new school a couple of weeks ago. When I was asking about her first day, she excitedly told me about the scavenger hunt for Pete the Cat, about her snack and about the different places she saw.  I asked if she met new friends and if they were nice. Her reply, “Oh yes! No one touched my bathing suit parts!” So, all in all, clearly successful. And she was apparently listening when her dad and I had the talk with her about private parts and safety.

Since I found out I was pregnant,  I have heard 2 statements more than any other. The first was ridiculous, “Get your sleep while you can.” That of course was what people said to warn me of how little babies sleep. It is true babies do NOT sleep, or at least mine didn’t, but it was laughable that I could get sleep when I was pregnant. I have never slept so poorly in my life.

The second statement I have taken to heart, “Cherish every second. It goes by so fast.” I have loved every developmental stage so far. And even if I didn’t necessarily like the stage (why did no one tell me threes are more challenging than the “terrible twos”?), I appreciate the good parts and how those struggles are necessary to help her become the person she is.

I don’t have a feeling of dread as we approach my baby starting big girl school. I don’t see that helpless little 4 month old anymore. I see a smart and sweet person. One who will watch Dr. Who marathons with me, whose new favorite word is conundrum, which she uses correctly in context. One who doesn’t want to steal the ball in soccer for fear of hurting her friends. One with rich fantasy play and one who loves Guy Fieri and special effects makeup, and Star Wars and high heels and cake.

I will cherish the time I have with her as I walk her to her classroom next week. I will try to cherish when she pulls away from me and doesn’t look back. I will cherish picking her up from her first day, wanting so badly to hear about all the details, knowing that she will fall asleep in the car before she can tell me much.

Kindergarten is going to be great! And I’m only going to cry a little bit.

I hope.