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Traditions: Priceless

One by one the Christmas decorations were hung on the tree. The mood was light, and the smiles were abundant as each ornament was gingerly removed from its tissue paper wrapping inside the ornament box. By the time they were all on the tree, it was quite obvious the tree was getting too small.

Each ornament represented a memory — some vague, while others were clearly defined. Some were from my mom ... some given by friends ... some created by youthful cousins who are now in their 30s ... some chosen especially for specific events or occasions ... some given by family members ... all given with love. The parade of ornaments is always a sentimental stroll down Memory Lane, and we remember, reminisce and recall the moments that caused those ornaments to end up in our hands ... and ultimately in our Christmas ornament box, which by the way, is bursting at the seams.

Some of my favorite ornaments are those given to me by my grandmother many years ago. It was a tradition ... Grandpa would bring home the tree, tied to the top of the old green Chevy. We’d watch from the big picture window as he untied the tree, sawed off the bottom and nailed a wooden stand to the bottom. He’d set it upright, and it always looked perfect. Though we were anxious to begin decorating, Grandpa would maneuver the tree through the dining room door and wrestle the huge pine into the living room, where we’d have to wait for the tree to warm and the branches to drop a bit.

The tradition continued as Grandma turned on the record player and sent Mitch Miller spinning. She’d then bring out the huge cardboard box, which contained all of our holiday decorations. While the tree did its thing, our tradition consisted of taking the newspaper-wrapped items out of the box, carefully unwrapping them and laying them carefully on the couch until it was time to hang them on the tree. Grandma always sang along with Mitch. The tradition wouldn’t have been complete without taking out the tidy bundles of newspaper at the bottom of the box, which contained long strands of shiny tinsel we had saved from years gone by. Go figure! We saved tinsel, but at the time, it was the thing to do ... it was part of the tradition.

Finally, it was time to decorate, but not before Grandma would gather us together and present each of us with a brand new ornament. It was such an exciting moment. We waited for it. Grandma would have already put our first initials on the bottom of each ornament, so we’d always know which one belonged to us. The “T” on the bottom of mine seemed special. Aside from differing colors sometimes, the ornaments were always the same. She handed them to us gently — like they were the most special thing in the world. As we cradled them in our hands, we examined them carefully before we hung them on the tree. It was a tradition that happened every year without fail.

Grandma gave us our last ornament many, many years ago, yet today, I always picture her looking down from heaven with a smile on her face when I take out those old ornaments from years gone by. The red and white plastic snowman, the blue pine cone bird, the angel with white bristly wings, the choir girl with feathery hair, the blue bell with the curling ribbon hanger, the tiny white bell that still rings when I put it on the tree ... I turn each one over and smile softly when I see the “T” on the bottom, and I imagine the smile on Grandma’s face when she wrote it there. Those ornaments are truly special — priceless to me, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Equally as special is the tradition that Grandma started so many years ago ... which has resulted in a host of memories of days gone by that I hold so near and dear to my heart.

What holiday traditions do you have? In the haste and chaos of Christmas present, I worry that today’s children are missing the traditions that once occupied Christmas past. And if they don’t have any traditions to treasure, what will they pass on to their children?

It doesn’t take that long, and clearly, there are traditions that don’t cost much money, if anything at all. Traditions are important to our future because they remind us of where we’ve been. Hopefully, you’ll take a moment to begin or carry on a tradition that could ultimately last a lifetime.

Terri Simon is the editor of the BCR. She can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com or follow her on Facebook at www.bcrnews.com/bcrnews.tsimon.

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