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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Traditions




As usual, the holiday season has not crept slowly upon me, it's exploded into the almost here panic stage. This year I've at least THOUGHT about gifts and been picking little things up during the year but I am NO WHERE NEAR being ready, or even near close to ready. Sigh.




This year I've been going back & forth to Massachusetts to see my Mom who has had a couple of strokes since Oct . Six hour trips in the car give me quite a bit of thinking time (in between being astounded and ticked off at the driving of others! How can you be speeding 10 miles over the limit and have cars passing you like you're standing still?????) I've spent some of the driving time thinking about all the traditions I brought to NJ with me from Gloucester.
One tradition is lights strung up our flagpole in the shape of a Christmas tree. When I was growing up, Mr Hatch, our next door neighbor did this with his 40' flagpole & you could see it all over Smith's Cove. Our 20' "tree" can only be seen from our street but the kids across the street are already wondering when it will go up. Our kids, who thought it looked like a space ship when they were small, would be disapointed to come home for Christmas & find that we hadn't done it - so Jim and I will be freezing our fingers off Thurs. stringing lights & putting real evergreen roping across the porch (which I then spoil the natural effect of by hanging lighted pepperments & candy canes from it - my traditional side warring with my love of bright shiny things).

Going back & forth to Gloucester has given me time in my old hometown. I've watched with interest the building of the lobsterpot tree. Gloucester started doing this about 10 years ago and has a competition of sorts going with Rockport Maine as to who has the biggest & the best tree made from lobsterpots. Gloucester's went up over the weekend - I KNOW Jim will balk at having our own lobsterpot tree & it will be the final piece of evidence for my kids that Mom has finally lost it, but I kindof like the idea. (My Dad was a lobsterman)






A kissing ball was in the trunk when I left Gloucester yesterday morning. Kissing balls have been around since Victorian times - usually made out of mistletoe - but the kissing balls of my childhood were made from evergreens, red velvet bows & streamers and hung outside. When I first moved to NJ, I searched locally for kissing balls & couldn't find a one, so I hauled them home at Thanksgiving. Now I can find them, but I still brought one home yesterday & hung it outside my backdoor.

And I'm pretty puritan in my decoration likes and dislikes. Yesterday, I waited while the garden center made me up a grave basket of just greens, winterberries, pinecones and a red bow. Mind you, the guy had 40 grave baskets out front - all with fake poinsettias, carnations & other unidentified flowers in them. The one I put out for my dad was classic New England, just like he was.



I love the look of houses with all white candles and Christmas trees with all white lights but in my house chaos reins with blasts of colored lights all over the tree, just like when I was growing up. My children, as much as they swore they'd do things different when they had their own houses, all do the same. Little bits of childhood traditions work their way into their lives. You should have seen Sara explaining the Dollar Dance, done at all her Minnesota cousins weddings, to the DJ who will be doing her wedding next month. Jim's family will expect it, my family & Brian's will be perplexed.

This how we get the melting pot of America - blending our regional and family traditions into something we call our own.