This is the first year in recent memory that has me approaching Christmas with my gift-buying complete. Of course, if I don’t get the gifts wrapped and mailed, all my “early” will disappear like last year’s eggnog.
Every Christmas is different--but every one is the same. For me, Christmas is memories of midnight church services with a hundred voices singing Silent Night by candlelight; playing the flute with my mother at the organ; with champagne and fudge at home afterward, celebrating the joy of Christmas. We still welcome Christmas this way, from our candlelight service with Silent Night to gathering with the family afterward.
As I write stories set in the Old West, I think about how our ancestors celebrated Christmas. Alone on a patch of ground, the nearest neighbor a mile or more away, with work that must be done regardless of the holiday, did Christmas become just another day? How did the mother of five add all the holiday baking and decorating and gift making to her already too busy schedule?
Pioneers and soldiers in remote forts decorated their homes with what was at hand: evergreens, pinecones, holly, nuts and berries, popcorn or paper strings, and homemade decorations like dolls made of straw or yarn; cookie dough ornaments and gingerbread men. Women would start their holiday baking weeks ahead of time. Gifts were homemade, things like sachets from the roses, carved wooden toys, embroidered handkerchiefs, and knitted hats, scarves and socks.
In my short story, Her Christmas Wish, my heroine, Katie, kept her family traditions alive by making the special foods of her childhood.
What about you? What traditions do you have that mean Christmas to you?