by Chris Goff
The holidays are a special time, and a stressful time. A great time for crime writers to gather fodder. Not! While rumors have persisted that murder rates jump during the holidays, it’s just not true. According to research, December and the winter months traditionally boast the lowest rates of violent crime.
So much for Aunt Millie skewering Uncle Ted with the carving knife.
It doesn’t matter what the ritual is, sharing a special moment with family members each year creates bonds. According to Nick Hobson, Director of Science at PsychologyCompass.com, “[Rituals] serve as a buffer to counteract different sources of anxiety.” In other words, they serve as a distraction, helping to preserve your mental health.
The holidays are my favorite time of year for a beach getaway—whether it is in the South Pacific, the Caribbean, or another island paradise, the turquoise waters and white sand are what strikes a holiday chord for this escaping Canadian. I’m happy to leave the other white stuff for everyone else!
When John and I married in 2011 and blended our families, we discovered we had a lot of combined holiday traditions – beloved old tree ornaments dating back a half century (at least), faded recipes from our grandmothers, and Santa Claus and reindeer songs on CDs transferred from LPs during what is now considered the Golden Age in recordings. (Oh, to still have all those old LPs!)
That first year after everyone finished laughing at what appeared to be a Christmas bush on steroids growing in our living room, the grandkids discovered the joy of climbing step ladders to decorate the towering green giant. And the adults found themselves fondling the soft needles and sniffing the fresh scent – heavenly. So now every year we have a Christmas bush. It’s traditional in a nontraditional way. We like it. Happy holidays!
We try to get the tree up just after Thanksgiving, and down just after New Year’s. I’ve collected unique ornaments for decades but absolutely adore the Storybook Renaker Brazel Beachstone ornaments.
My parents’ tradition had been to put the tree up on Christmas Eve, after the children had gone to bed so they could wake to pure wonder on Christmas morning at what Santa Claus had wrought. Once we got past the age of believing in magic elves, this rule got flexed and we would help with the tree. I never knew where they came from, but from the gaps and bare spots I’m thinking someone’s back yard. In one infamous family video, my father and sister and brother-in-law are hanging delicate ornaments on pretty branches. After a break, filming starts up again but the tree looks different, the ornaments somehow awry, as if it had fallen onto one side. Because it had. My father scrounged in his basement work area and found the heaviest thing he could, an old bucket full of chains. He tied the tree trunk to the handle of the bucket and voila! It never quite recaptured its earlier sparkle, but at least it stayed upright.
But hey, with enough tinsel and twinkling lights, anything becomes magical.
We go to a candlelight performance of Handel’s Messiah at St. Anne’s Church every Christmas. The first church in Annapolis, St. Anne’s was founded in 1692.
Karna Small Bodman
“We have been collecting Christmas ornaments from the White House Historical Association for decades. We always begin decorating our Christmas tree with these precious ornaments – each focuses on a different time frame and is accompanied by a little story about that particular time in White House history. Anyone can purchase them here: https://shop.whitehousehistory.org/holidays/ornaments
Every Christmas Eve my husband, the kids and I go to church, and when we get home we watch A Christmas Story together. I love the nostalgic feel of the movie and it’s a great way to relax and take a little break during the business of the season.
Our holiday tradition has been evolving in a wonderful way as our kids’ friends bring some of theirs to us. Last year instead of traditional eggnog, (which I love) my son’s friend introduced us to Coquito, which means “Little Coconut” in Spanish. It’s just like eggnog, contains alcohol, and is delicious!