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Carol Perkins: Remembering Christmas Traditions

Previous Carol Perkins column: Life lessons from the Christmas Cruise

By Carol Perkins

I think I counted thirty people. No one was in one place long enough to get an exact count, but based on the adult children and the number of people in their families and the grandparents and great-grandparents, I believe my number is correct. That is how many were at my sister-in-laws for Christmas to which my mother and I (and Guy who stayed home to watch yet another Hallmark movie) were invited.

We are always invited, but often we have something going on that keeps us away, but this year was a quiet one. Guy and I (and Carla's family) were going to Texas after Christmas to spend with Jon and his family, so we didn't have our usual get-together at our house.

When my sister-in-law (was married to my late brother, Tim, who has been gone twenty-three years) and her husband invited us to their family gathering, I thought about the traditions of long ago with my grandparents.

Nothing that night had changed from those days. Plentiful food, more gifts than the tree could bear, and so many sweets my teeth ached, but this time there were phone cameras clicking rather than instamatic cameras. As I watched the night unfold, I remembered when I was the young girl sitting under the tree the way my adult niece was doing this night, pulling out gifts and handing them to my cousins to pass around the room to the names on the tags. I remembered one of my aunts gathering up the bows to use another time, and someone else throwing wrapping paper into the wood stove than was already far too hot for the number of people in the room on a December night back in the 50s.

I have a picture of my daddy playing the fiddle and about five of the little ones gathered around him. Twelve Days of Christmas (and acting it out) was a tradition and maybe a little dancing among the young followed. The night went by so fast and the years even faster. Looking back, I think there might have 35 or 40 in my grandmother's house.

As I watched my sister-in-law's blended family gathering around the tree and doing what we used to do, I turned to her husband and said, "It has been years since I have been with small children at Christmas. This is wonderful."

Nothing really changes when it comes to Christmas traditions. Places vary and children grow up and have their own children, but somewhere there will always be a gathering with too much food, too many gifts, and wide-eyed boys and girls finding it hard to sleep at night. I was glad to be a part of their night.

Suddenly, on the drive home, I had a sense of longing for those long ago days at my grandmother's house.

This story was posted on 2018-12-26 08:22:34
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