I grew up with a mom who was really, really into Christmas.
Not like normal people are into Christmas, but more like our home, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, looked the Mall of America Christmas Town . . . stuffed into a two-bedroom apartment.
She was really into it. Think: crazy cat lady, but with carols instead of calicos, and twinkle lights instead of tabbies. (There were cats too. Don’t even get me started . . .)
Traditions were a big deal to Mom. From setting up the all-important Lazy Susan with nuts and hard candies (the good stuff didn’t come out until Christmas Eve—it’s like she didn’t trust me or something), to hanging everyone’s stocking in front of the—sometimes faux—fireplace. The same stack of records, the Christmas village on the coffee table, and of course the tree with the old-fashioned fat lights, and thick drape of “icicles” that we’d still be pulling out of the vacuum cleaner the next July.
Once everything was in place, the garlands were hung, and the living room was bathed in the soft red and green glow of the tree. Then, it was Christmas.
Whether it’s reading “The Night Before Christmas” in front of the fire on Christmas Eve, lighting the Chanukah menorah, or leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, traditions have been a part of the holidays since, well, since there have been the holidays, and for good reason.