One tradition, I go outside late on Christmas Eve and listen to the near-by Interstate. When we were younger it would be perfectly quiet. Not a car or truck on it. I went out last night and listened, little traffic compared to usual, yet a steady stream of a single cars spaced often enough to obliterate the silence. This morning I went out at 6:30 and listened. I did get about a half of a minute of silence and then a few 10 to 15 second intervals in the 4 or 5 minutes that I stood in the cold listening to the Interstate. In all fairness however it does occur to me that my Interstate listening of yore was probably done more like 2:30 or 3:00 AM after all the toys had been assembled and placed under the tree in exhaustion.
Another tradition we have is to go to Candlelight Service at my wife’s small Presbyterian Church. True to tradition we sang Silent Night by candlelight, except me, also true to tradition. I can’t sing because I have a huge lump in my throat and I am desperately fighting back tears. Something about the simple beauty of a handful of simple people, in a simple old coal miner's church, singing a simple song to off key organ music played by a simple woman who really does not know how to play, expressing their simple faith in the simple birth of the simple child of their simple God. None of it is very complicated and none of it is fancy. Very simple. Perhaps not as quite as simple and ordinary as the events that took place 2,000 years ago, but by comparison to the grand cathedrals and the mega-churches of today…quite simple indeed.
A failed tradition? At the same church and the same Candlelight Service up to a few years ago, I would listen to the previous organist sing Ave Maria. She could sing as well as play the organ. The hairs stood on the back of my neck and unabashed tears rolled down my cheeks. She was Catholic and she appeared without fail to play at the Presbyterian Church every Sunday and Christmas Eve. She died of breast cancer several years ago and with her died one of my personal traditions. My tradition, listening to Ave Maria, was a small thing compared to the totality in the loss of this woman, but how does one quantify the loss of beauty? A simple woman with a very beautiful voice.
Another tradition, after church we ride around for about a half hour and look at Christmas lights and then come home and snack on the Christmas cookies, cheese and crackers, and veggies from a vegetable tray all prepared by my wife, and listen to Christmas music on our tinny sounding boom box*. Quite beautiful. Well last night due to complex family dynamics we took the spread to my son’s house, and due to complex family dynamics, it was not quite the same.
*The boom box itself is a Christmas tradition, it only gets used during the Christmas season.
Today my wife will do another Christmas tradition…work her ass off preparing a meal for the entire family at her mother’s house. Although in a failure of tradition that I am going to enjoy, it will not be a traditional Christmas ham dinner. This year she pre-made lasagna rolls, and all she has to do is heat them up in the oven. It will allow her more time to enjoy the family. Mmmmmm! I am going to eat like a king for Christmas this year, but there has been some grumbling from the traditionalists who traditionally sit back and watch my wife slave away in the kitchen. Too bad, a new Christmas tradition—lasagna rolls served with a side dish of grumbling. Any one who does not like it is perfectly welcome to prepare the traditional Christmas ham dinner…my wife says that she will sit down and eat it without complaint. I am not holding my breath waiting for ham. So lasagna rolls it will be…my mouth is watering just thinking about it. To hell with tradition I say.
|Our Junky Tree|
Tomorrow will be another tradition, one which I refuse to allow failure. The day after Christmas, Boxing Day they call it in England. We will go no where, have no one over, just my wife and I enjoying a quiet peaceful day together with no complex family dynamics, no ruffled feathers, no hurt feelings in any quarters, and for my wife, no damned work. After two weeks of killing herself in preparation for Christmas, she deserves a simple day off. Just she, me, and the kitty cats sitting around the tree, our tree...the one that my wife over decorates with too many simple home made ornaments, and too many colored lights. Our tree, the one that some of our more sophisticated relatives have called junky, the simple tree that, as with my wife, a simple woman, I love to the depths of my being.
Merry Christmas to all, God bless us, everyone!