This is the time of year for traditions. Every year in New York, they light a massive Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. In San Francisco, they build an ice rink in Justin Herman Plaza. At Whistler, on New Year’s Eve, people ski down the mountain carrying torches in a torchlight parade. A good friend of mine usually participates in this event. But this year, he is spending Christmas and New Year’s in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where, I am sure, he will be introduced to new traditions. God bless him and his friends.
Families have their own Christmas traditions. In my family, my Dad played “Joy to the World” every Christmas morning. As soon as we heard Nat King Cole’s voice, my brother and I would bolt downstairs to see what Santa had left in our stockings.
Christmas morning breakfast was a tradition in itself. My Mom would prepare sliced oranges, strawberries and English sausage. She also made a breakfast casserole with bread, eggs, Canadian bacon, and cheddar cheese, all sprinkled with Corn Flakes. The recipe is called Christmas Morning Wife Saver.
A family friend once asked, “What happens if the wife doesn’t make the Christmas Morning Wife Saver? Do you sacrifice her or something?”
If my Mom made bacon and eggs, I am sure we would have eaten it and my Mom would have survived the day. But fortunately, we never had to find out. My Mom stuck with her tradition.
As we got older, my brother and I experimented with new Christmas traditions, most notably, drinking copious amounts of alcohol. During university Christmas breaks, my parents must have been concerned about the number of empty Kokanee beer bottles piling up in their basement. But their boys were home for the Holidays, so they never brought it up with my brother and me.
This tradition continued for a few more years after graduation. One year, I spent Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law at their apartment in Greenwich, England. In England, the tradition is for all stores and services to be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, so we had to stock up on food and booze to survive. We must have looked like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas strolling through the liquor store with our shopping cart full of wine, Bailey’s and beer. Fortunately, we outgrew this tradition.
When I married Stacie, our Christmas traditions collided. She likes white lights on her Christmas tree – I grew up with coloured lights. My family put tinsel on our tree – her family did not. We cooked turkey for Christmas dinner – Stacie’s family cooked beef. The first year that we had turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving and Christmas, Stacie informed me that turkey would no longer be on the menu for Christmas dinner.
But on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, Stacie’s family would attend church service, and then head home to eat take-out pizza and watch a movie. I like that tradition, and it’s one we continue. I have also learned to appreciate white lights on our tree, and I love her beef tenderloin. Fortunately, she is willing to help prepare the Christmas Morning Wife Saver.
Stacie and I are handing down a combination of our Christmas traditions to our kids. Over time, they may develop their own traditions and hand those down to their kids. But whether they inherit traditions, create their own traditions, or enjoy others’ traditions, some traditions will never change. At this time of year, we look back and appreciate the year that has passed. We wish our friends a Happy Holidays. We look forward to the next year, and we pray for peace on Earth and good will toward men.
I image this is especially true if you are spending the Holidays on an airfield in Jalalabad. Merry Christmas, Stu. Have a Happy Holidays, and be safe.