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Memories and Traditions from Past Holidays

Financial Journey (featured column)
Submitted by Karen Kuebler

This is such a special time of year to share with our friends and families. Each of us have the memories and traditions we have built over the years that make this season even more special than other times of the year. Through all of the stress of the holidays, the part that remains with us over the years is the unique customs we have shared and experienced with our loved ones. I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very special Holiday and to share some of my own distinctive memories.

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My Mom was always pretty structured when it came to our mealtimes; dinners always included a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. But every year during the week before Christmas we had a special dinner that consisted of fudge and popcorn! Needless to say, that was probably my favorite meal of the year.

We also had our traditions around the meals we ate. For Thanksgiving it was always turkey, for Christmas Eve it was always steak, and for Christmas Day it was ham. The meals included all of the special salad and trimming recipes. It’s hard to break certain patterns, these have been my traditional meals since I’ve been married and had a family of my own.

We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, except for the ones from Santa which came on Christmas morning. We were allowed to open one gift during the day on Christmas Eve since we were bursting at the seams by then! Naturally, this same pattern was passed on to my children.

Before we were allowed to open gifts on Christmas Eve, my Mom and Dad had an entire evening ritual. For me, at the time, it was the longest night of the year because I was so focused on opening gifts. Oh my, how we do change as we grow older.

We had 2 stories on Lp records that we listened to every year. One was The Littlest Angel by Loretta Young and the other was The Lullaby of Christmas by Gregory Peck. Thankfully, my Mom gave me those Lps after I was grown with children of my own. I treasure those stories, and have made my kids listen to them. They seemed to last 3 hours at the time I was young. After the records we would eat our steak dinner and I was still focused on getting to the gifts!

But the gifts are not the memories that I cling to. What I cherish are the memories of sitting around the fireplace and listening to the stories together and petting our little dog, Princess. I wish my parents were still alive to relive those evenings, but the nice thing about memories is that they never fade. My Mom was a wise woman. We could be doing the most ordinary thing together, and she would say “Do you realize right now we are making a memory?”

My Father used to love to take my sister and I to a special program every year called “The Living Christmas Tree.” It was a night of beautiful Christmas music where the choir was positioned in a large stage built Christmas tree decorated with live branches and lights. I loved that evening. That same week our youth group from Church would go Christmas caroling and would visit the homes of the sick and the elderly. I haven’t been Christmas caroling since I was in High School. It’s sort of a shame how you feel like you outgrow some of those activities as an adult.

Starting as a child, and to this day, we always drive all around the city and look at all of the beautiful lights and decorations. This time of year, where everybody is lighting up their homes for the Holidays, makes me feel a sense of peace that I don’t feel at any other time of year. It feels as though the whole world is united in a very special way to celebrate the Holidays. It seems that people have brighter smiles and are more quick to say hello to strangers. I love that feeling that comes with the Holidays.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, my Mom always invited anyone that had no place to go or didn’t have family in the area. She opened up her heart and our home to so many people over the years and I am sure she made memories for all of these folks too. Since my parents have passed on and my children are grown and away from home (if we have a holiday where we aren’t spending it with one of our children), I have also started inviting people who have no other family with whom they can spend the Holidays.

I am very grateful for the wonderful memories my Mom, especially, created in my life and that I was able to pass along many of these traditions to my own family. My hope for all of our readers is that your Holidays will be Blessed and filled with Love and Peace.

And, always remember, with every ordinary thing you are doing with your loved ones you are creating very special memories for the future.

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Copyright © 2004 by Karen Kuebler. All rights reserved.

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