Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Celebrating Family Traditions

I am an advocate of family traditions.  As I am getting older, it becomes even more important to me to talk about it, to teach it to our grand kids and to live by it-to be proud about it.  I am very proud to have my faith in God; I am very proud to be a wife, a mother, to have had a loving husband for over 47 years.  I am proud to be an American and to have been a daughter of a life time military person.
My New England family growing up, celebrated the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday and made it the most magical time of the year with very little money; in very small living spaces; using what we had to make the time wonderful and memorable.  Frank and I started out our lives together with little and even though his memories and traditions of how he viewed Thanksgiving and Christmas were so different than mine, within a few years, he too was looking as forward to the holidays traditions as I was.
We have always decorated every corner of any house we lived in during our lives during the holiday season.  Living in the country meant that many times we would have more than one tree; loads of candles and lights; always hand made gifts; always surprises under the tree for every family member, sometimes even had gifts that the kids or us made or purchased for our cats and dogs.
We would have baked days and days; we made up trays of baked items for neighbors; for work people; for friends, for family.
We always planned on large dinners, over the years, tried different ways to cook turkeys with an occasional try at not cooking turkeys but a roast,yet always came back to the traditional oven roasted turkey.  Family members would bring every one's favorite dishes, which soon became part of the new traditions.  Even when we could barely pay our bills, people we knew, with no place to go or no loved ones to have them, they were invited to our table.  Our dinner numbers were fluid.  Sometimes our daughter would bring extra kids home with her from college; or old high school friends who came by who knew us for years and loved us as if we were their family. Friends without family became family.
Most years, the table talk was loud, laughing, eating too much.  There were a few times when all the family members would be together when topics got heated; people had too much wine, disagreements were voiced.  But all families have that, isn't that part of tradition too?  Part of the memories.
We have all known change and embraced what each new year and the challenges we have all had to face.  But my belief is that the foundation of our little family's tradition, gives us the strength of character to know who we are; what we are; what we love in this world and what gives us that warm feeling all over during this time of year.
Tradition to us is knowing that The Carli's home, Windmill Farm,  during the holiday will have a welcome mat for our friends, neighbors and family.  That our table will be decorated for the holiday,candles on the table; that there will be a large turkey in the oven; our traditional stuffing-made the same way my mother did and I have done all these years. That I will make cranberry/orange/apple salad; that I will make Caesar salad; deviled eggs; a relish tray (using ingredients the same as made by my grandmother and my mother); hot rolls; mashed potatoes; New England yams with melted marshmallows on top; green beans and carrots; gravy.  There will always be a pumpkin pie and maybe an apple pie too.  If I missed anything, I will be sure to hear about it. Probably burn the rolls, but I have learned to always buy extra, just in case. But that is OK, because my tradition has made an experience on all those that bless our table.
Tradition may seem out of date; or old fashioned. Maybe in today's world, dis-respectful of other people's belief.   But if a store doesn't want to have Christmas trees for decorations; or traditional Christmas music playing; I am sorry for the young people who go there and don't know the joy of what that feels like during the holiday season.  One of my most favorite memories was when a group of girl friends from college, took the Bay Area train into downtown San Francisco during the Christmas season.  Every store was decorated as magical, beautiful as any story book I had ever seen. The City of Paris had a 40 foot Christmas tree completely decorated with every imaginable item. Macy's front windows had Santa Claus and reindeer moving; there was Christmas music being played in the busy streets. I can't remember the florist store name, it was famous at the time in SF, because of their fabulous decorations.  They had 100s of Christmas trees each one decorated with a theme, some trees had fresh flowers as decorations.  We had to wait outside in the street in a line for an hour, to be able to walk through and see it.
It was a wonderland, it was magical, it was beautiful, it was memorable.   Yes it takes work, time, money and we are all so busy, but so rewarding, so important.  Be proud of your own traditions, make wonderful memories for your children and loved ones.  Look forward to the holidays, turn on the old fashioned Christmas music and get into the mood. Be happy, be thankful.  God Bless.

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