It’s been a while since I’ve had time to visit my friends’ blogs . . . so busy this time of year. But this morning I got to cruise around. I read wonderful stories of the holidays, of recounting the highlights of 2011, of plans for 2012. It was nice to visit, nice to share your merriment . . . if only vicariously and virtually.

I hate to admit it but I get a tad depressed around the holidays. I get a little nostalgic, pining over the “good old days” when my family was huge and the gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas took on a tribal look and feel. I had five siblings and we’d all gather at mom’s, bringing our own families with us. You can imagine how huge and chaotic it could be! The opening of the gifts took hours and the meals where loud and boisterous. These days though, my siblings and siblings-in-law are scattered in various states so, unless my small little threesome travels, things stay pretty tame.

It’s just different now, that’s all. I have to remember that. I have to remind myself that the only constant thing in life is change. And, even though the holidays are not nearly as crowded as they used to be, there is still much joy in the season and, although I’m not surrounded by my large family, there is still much to be loved. Two things spring immediately to mind:

The afterglow – when everything is done, when the frenzied shopping is behind us, the Christmas cards are all delivered, the meals all planned and eaten. When I can sit in my neatly decorated living room (okay . . . so what if I leave my decorations up until February. I like them!) I like looking at my tree, still twinkling happily in front of the large, bay window. I love my collection of Santa’s all ceramic or knitted or glass. And the nativity scene still nested in its bed of billowy cotton, its simulated snow storm. There’s a calmer feel to everything now that the hustle and bustle is over.

The second thing is this new tradition we have. I say “new” when its actually eighteen years old. It started when my son was born. A December baby, the hospital staff put together a package of “baby things” stuffed into a large, red stocking. It took us about a minute to figure out that our newborn would actually fit inside the stocking so we tucked him into it and laid him sleeping under the tree with all the other gifts.

Now, every Christmas since that first one, we get him to climb back into his stocking for the annual Christmas picture.

And even though it gets trickier every year, we’re still keeping our new tradition alive!

Do you have any special traditions? Things that make the holidays a little more special, a little more unique? Maybe even a tad bit quirky . . .

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