You can say I am a traditionalist. Although changing things up a bit and doing things for the first time can be exciting, for me I find far more comfort with consistency, routine, and tradition. I do relish in doing the same things over and over with the same people in the same location. I look forward to it. I depend on it. I need it.
Somehow the month of December is set up perfectly to satisfy my desire to both enjoy and perpetuate those traditions that are near and dear to my heart. But those traditions don’t always come so easy. Sometimes it’s easy to let annual events or celebrations fall by the waist-side due to time, or lack thereof. Often when you skip one year, it’s so much easier to skip the next year and the year after that and so on…and before you know it you've lost a connection to your past and sometimes connections to others. You can only look back and say, “remember when we used to…” I don't want to fall prey to that. Traditions help bridge yesterday to today and today to tomorrow. Traditions are important in that they unite and bring people together, which is something I don’t take for granted, now more than ever..
The month started with our annual trip to The Clayton Valley Tree Farm to pick out our Christmas tree. While we anxiously waited for our tree to be cut and bailed, Jenelle, Kyle and I soaked in the moment knowing that this day would be the start of many good times to come during the Christmas season. We gleamed with happiness in anticipation for our upcoming evening that would be filled with tree decorating, egg nog, Christmas music, fun and laughter. Although Vaughn wasn’t able to get out of the car to help us pick out the tree due to logistics (his wheelchair wouldn’t be able to plow through the sawdust and the mud), he sat in the front seat and watched from afar. We took turns keeping him abreast of where the tree was in its process of being picked, bought, cut, and bailed. It was important to each of us that he partake in the tradition as best as he could, for it was only two years previous that he was forced to miss out on this important occasion due to the fact that we were trapped inside our house with no way to get him around with his electric chair. At that time we sent the kids forward to get the tree, while Vaughn and I stayed behind and did our best to think happy thoughts even though we couldn’t be a part of something that meant so much to us. We vowed that we couldn’t allow this to happen again, and that we would do anything to ensure that we would be together to celebrate and enjoy all the traditions we spent so many years to create.
And as it turns out, the joy of our trip to The Christmas Tree Farm, which actually took place the day after Thanksgiving, was only the beginning. I couldn’t wait to pull the boxes down from the attic and decorate every corner of our home. For the past three or four years I wasn't as excited to decorate as in years past, and only felt like I was just going through the motions in order to check the box that I had fulfilled all expectations associated with Christmas. But this year was different. It was as if my mind woke up from a long hibernation. I longed to feel excited about the joy of Christmas and all the good feelings that come with each day leading up to the big day. I relished in every moment—whether it was laughing with my girlfriends at Henfest, or watching my little niece get so excited opening her Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. The feelings were intense, warm and unforgettable.
I can’t help but think that the turn of attitude had something to do with our situation. It’s written about often that after people go through devastating times, they learn to appreciate the small things in life. Life’s special moments are all the more sweet. I can honestly say that I never enjoyed the Christmas season more than these past few weeks. It was like the movie “The Grinch who Stole Christmas.” Although I would never describe myself as a Grinch, I definitely felt my heart swell with good tidings. And in turn, those good feelings flowed outward to others. The night of December 23rd was a good example of that...
It has been our family tradition on December 23rd to go to Union Square in San Francisco and have dinner at John Foley’s, an Irish pub a block over from The Square. This was to be our first time back to partake in this tradition since before Vaughn’s accident, two and a half years ago. As always, Vaughn and I had a few “Miller Manhattan’s”-a family drink that my Great-Grandparent’s created a long time ago. Each of us took turns toasting to the year and saying something kind about one another. My heart was full of pride and love and I can declare that this was my favorite evening of the Christmas Season. But the evening didn’t end there. When the waitress came to give us our bill, she told us that someone secretly paid for our drinks. It was a “pay it forward” gesture. We felt so honored to be the recipient of such a kind gesture from a mysterious person, as this never happened to us before. We immediately felt the need to pay it forward ourselves and ended up with an exchange of our own with a man who lived near the freeway and was truly down and out financially, mentally, and emotionally.
And so it goes...happiness engenders tradition, and in turn tradition engenders happiness. I am happy to say that this hold trues for me now more than ever.
Thank you 2014 for being kinder to me and my family, and thank you to all the supporters of my blog for continuing to read and giving me reason to write.
Happy New Year to you all!