Christmas traditions come in all sizes, colors, foods and forms. They started eons ago, or when you were a child, or maybe just yesterday. Traditions are the things that bring back memories and create new ones. Here are a few of ours.
We have an elf, Patches, who sneaks up underneath the Santa hat Christmas tree-topper and dangles himself upside down to peer out from underneath the furry white hat trim and ensure that our children are behaving themselves. When everyone is asleep, he'll head back to tell Santa how the kids behaved that day. Later, he'll return to a different hiding spot, keeping the children on the lookout each morning for his new locale.
We also have our Simpich dolls. Every year, with delicate hands, I unwrap them from their original tissue paper wrapping, where they have been safely cuddled for the past 11 months in their original boxes. I make sure to unfurl the snake-like roll of paper from under the Muff-lady’s dress and remove the protective layer from around the Lantern-man's lantern. Then the flute player, mandolin player and the fat man are placed aside their counterparts in proper caroling fashion, their hand-painted faces joyfully singing imaginary Christmas songs all season long.
Simpich dolls, gingerbread houses and a popcorn lamb, the makings of Christmas traditions.
When the kids were younger, we added building gingerbread houses into our traditional mix. I actually made the gingerbread for the first year, cut out the house forms and let the decorating begin. I learned my lesson, though, that the building and decorating is more fun for the kids than me toiling over proper gingerbread walls and roofs. The next year I didn’t think twice and substituted graham crackers for the structure.
I have boys, who lack much attention to detail — they’re kids who only value the amount of candy that can fit on their houses. Each year's house looks more like a candy bag explosion on a semi-arranged pile of graham crackers.
My quandary every year is what to do with them after Christmas. They tend to live in the china cabinet until long after St. Patrick's Day, when my husband or I finally sneak them to the trashcan. This year however, thanks to learning the tradition of our new friends here in Penrose, we will smash them with a hammer on New Year's Day and eat up the remains as a celebration of the year to come.
And, finally, this year, I was gifted with perhaps the most amazing Christmas tradition I have ever known: A popcorn lamb.
The family who made it for me explained that their great-grandmother raised six children on a ranch and had little money to spare. She had the children make popcorn lambs for their teachers and neighbors. The popcorn was cheap. Mixed with sticky syrup and pressed into the form of a large Christmas Lamb, it’s a gift that takes a lot of thought, time, strength — you have to press REALLY hard to get the popcorn into the mold, according to the child who gave it to me — and love. I am honored to be a recipient of this family's third generation tradition. What a simple, unique, and incredibly amazing gift.
Traditions are one of the things that make this time of year special. They tie us to each other, to our ancestors and to our futures. They bring with them memories from the past, and create stories for the future. So enjoy your family, your friends and your traditions this year. Thank you for reading, I am grateful for you.
Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, a growing farm and soon-to-be creamery in southern Colorado. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.