I was first introduced to family Christmas traditions in the 10th grade when I was invited to my best friend Joy’s house to help her family trim their tree — insisted upon by her father, who was dismayed when he found out I had never trimmed a tree before. It was everything I expected and hoped it would be — warm, loving, nostalgic and full of sweetness. My family growing up had plenty of our own special traditions for different holidays (and now that I’m an adult with a family of my own, I treasure them all, and work to sustain their sanctity). But compared to Christmas, Chanukah isn’t (for me) infused with the same sense of gathering and togetherness, and this time of year always felt like it wasn’t warmed with the same glowing diffuse light that “everyone else” seemed to enjoy. I’m not saying we spent Christmas Eve in a vinyl tableclothed Chinese restaurant, but we also weren’t wearing matching sweaters (or pajamas), drinking cider and singing Christmas songs around the baby grand with the fire adding its crackling and popping like so many dusty Bing Crosby records.
20+ years after trimming my first Christmas tree, I find myself in the life-is-a-revolving-door position of creating memories for two newish inhabitants of life. This is the third year that we’ve had a Christmas tree, and the first year, I suspect, that Zoe and Lucy may remember. So it was important to me to make a special day out of the obtaining and subsequent trimming of our tree. The layers of Zoe and Lucy’s memories are developing their foundation right now, and, although I realize traditions tend to form organically rather than deliberately, I still hope (perhaps naïvely) to gently guide our traditions into something, I don’t know, lovely.
Sort of like this picture.