A dominant aspect of my life is music. So, it’s no wonder that I find inspiration in topics surrounding music. Music for most people is like a relative bringing back memories. How many of us of a certain age hear the words, “I Dream of Jeanie” and think “da dat dat da dat da”? Thus, the originating spark for this post was music related.
I recently heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s music described as a nontraditional holiday tradition. Additionally, I’ve been thinking about Straight No Chaser’s very entertaining “Christmas Can Can” that has some good natured fun with “Christmas” arriving earlier each year. I am a holiday girl. For me, the holiday season starts a few days before Halloween (the anniversary of my first date with my husband is October 29th) all the way through to Valentine’s Day. The holiday season is a time of celebration and childlike wonder…that even when times are tough, there is still a feeling of hope and expectation that anything is possible. In short, this is a time of gratitude. Things that remind us to be grateful, even arbitrary calendar dates, are useful. My mantra has long been to be thankful for all the gifts that I’m given, even the ones that I’m not wise enough to see. There have been plenty of times when something happened, that in the moment, I judged as bad for me …then at some later point, realized it was a crucial moment that led me down a path on which I needed to go. Thus, the holidays (plural) remind us to reflect on our life’s journey and the infinite possibilities ahead.
Which brings me to the topic of holiday traditions. Some are indeed long standing [generation after generation] traditions, and some, whether through necessity (like having a special needs child) or the wish to march or dance to be beat of a different drummer boy have more recent origins, sculpted by the needs and desires of those celebrating said tradition. In our family unit, we have several traditions. Like watching the national dog show then going to the movies on Thanksgiving…seeing a movie on Christmas then driving to Sheetz for hot chocolate. Prior to the discovery of my gluten intolerance, most holidays involved a trip to IHOP for Pecan Pancakes. Thank goodness for Gluten Free Bisquick! The holiday meals in our house are made by my talented husband…why?…because he’s an excellent cook, and me…not so much. I once exploded chocolate icing. I share this culinary deficit with a dear aunt of mine. She has been known to say that she is quite skilled at making reservations.
A rather treasured tradition for me is one that I created in 2004. Looking for a way to connect with my daughter who would later be diagnosed with Autism, I took her to a department store, stood her in front of the holiday themed jewelry and waited (for about a half an hour) for her to find something that she liked. It was a purple and red pin of a “Red Hat Lady”, and I bought one just like it for myself. This tradition, especially in the early years, didn’t always go smoothly, but we kept it up…it’s our mother/daughter thing. My daughter has gotten into it more and more over the years, and we have had matching snowmen, cat, reindeer, etc. This year, due to unexpected illnesses with several family members, including our two old dogs, we ran behind on many things, including our tradition…so we went today, and the first store’s inventory was decimated, but at the second store, there was a freshly stocked display. Our daughter, in no time at all, picked a star pin with the word “Believe” written on it. There were three such pins, so this year, my husband got a matching pin too. We have treasured memories, for which I am abundantly grateful and happy that we persevered, even when it seemed like the tradition might not come together.
Our daughter has turned into quite the holiday girl in her own right. She becomes more engaged and outgoing when the holiday music starts playing…so much so, that we keep one holiday CD in the player all year round. It is an immeasurable joy to hear our once nonverbal daughter belt out songs like “Winter Wonderland”.
So at this point, dear reader, I hand the reigns of this blog post to you. I’m requesting that you comment below, sharing your favorite holiday traditions (old or new), memories, even recipes (especially if you’ve got some favorites for those with food allergies). It can be about any holiday that is meaningful for you…Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Ramadan, Christmas, New Year’s, Mother’s/Father’s Day, etc. You would be doing a real service to others…whether someone is in need of some ideas of things to do for the holidays, ideas of alternate plans that work for those with special needs (like sensory integration issues, food allergies, etc.) or they’re in a funk and looking for something to bring a smile to their face.