Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Quiet Tradition

Having lived alone for several years and my family scattered across several states, holidays have a different dynamic in my life than those of my friends. We do not tend to have large family gatherings due to logistics and timing, so those holidays near the winter solstice are generally small in size and limited on attendees. Many times I have spent Christmas solo in my home, save the furry children, which is perfectly comfortable for me, though, judging from the looks on friend's faces when they hear of my plan, the solitude is often viewed as sad or pitiful. However, I have never felt that way. The holidays, in fact any holiday or event, is what you make of it.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my older sisters were going out with friends on a New Years Eve. In my child's eyes, I did not understand why I could not go with them, not realizing that as teenagers, they really didn't want to hang out with their baby sister on a party night. Feeling a bit blue after they left, my father told me not to worry, that we would have a good time at the house without them.

That night at the house was simple by today's standards but the memory has held for nearly 40 years as being one great night. We put together a puzzle of a Currier and Ives picture, which I had just received for Christmas, and watched the movie It's a Wonderful Life. I got to stay up to midnight to see the ball drop in Times Square on television, the first night I got to ring in the New Year. I did not even notice my sisters were out without me.

In all the years that have passed since then, through all the various incarnations of holiday celebrations, family attachments and detachments, marriage, divorce, distance, and schedules, I always come back to that night in my mind. After years of trying to fit and bend into holiday traditions in my adulthood, I began a tradition of my own. Christmas Eve is spent with It's a Wonderful Life, and for a couple hours, I am transported to that memory with my father which is held so dearly in my heart. Though the house may be quiet from the absence of any other person, when I enact this tradition, I have everything.

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