Let me start by apologizing for not having anything new lately. Two things here. One, between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always a busy time, as most of you can imagine. So there hasn’t been a lot of time to write. Two, there hasn’t really been a lot going on in terms of getting ready. We’ve been living the day-to-day life, going to work, doing some Christmas shopping, trying to figure out what we ‘need’ for Christmas. No exciting sailing lessons, scuba won’t happen until the Spring. I’ll share with you where we are going to go for that after Christmas, it’s a little bit of a surprise for our son. We’ve been looking at boats, watching our favorite YouTubers. Watching our ASA 101 lessons again so that this spring we can go take that test and get our 101 and 103 certifications. I’ve been playing with the camera we got this summer, trying to build my photography skills.
Christmas is right around the corner and we’ve being doing our own style of Advent. It’s morphed over the years, but the last several years we’ve saved shoe boxes and filled them with candy, gift cards, announcements of big things that we will do over the remainder of the break. We rotate who gets to open the boxes. This year we added a bit of funny stuff too, like boxes of Jiffy Cornbread along with some candy. In some of the boxes that were gift cards, we added bags of rocks, just to give them some heft. The first “box of rocks” that was opened generated a bit of surprise…and maybe a little disappointment until the giftcard was discovered in the tissue paper.
Advent over the years has morphed. When our oldest struggled with the anticipation of Christmas, my wife had the brilliant idea of hanging snowflakes around the house. Each snowflake had a family activity for the evening, something for him to look forward too. It made the Christmas season a bit easier, not a lot, but just a bit. Enough that we were all able to enjoy it, for the most part. From there it turned into small gifts, and eventually into what I just described. I think one year we bought an Advent calendar from Starbucks and put the activities in each of the little tins that made up the calendar.
As I write this, we are four days from Christmas. There are four boxes left under the tree and every day, there’s a bit of excitement around the house as we all joke that it’s our day to open the advent box. It’s a bit of fun and it’s a tradition that we have held onto over the years. It might have changed, but even when we are celebrating Christmas on boat, whether it be in the Caribbean or Norway, I’m sure we’ll have something along these lines that we do to celebrate the season. The surface of the tradition will change, but the tradition of having something to mark the days to Christmas won’t change.
There are a few other traditions that we will keep too. Christmas breakfast no doubt. I tried once to do something different, it didn’t go well for me. It didn’t feel like Christmas when I had a different breakfast. For as long as I can remember, we had a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole for breakfast on Christmas. Always with cheddar cheese. One year I made it with pepper jack…it wasn’t the same. So, we went back to the way it was the next year. It became such a tradition for the boys that the first time I made it when it wasn’t Christmas, they both looked at me and said, “Why are we having this? It’s not Christmas.”
As I think back over the years, we’ve created a lot of fun experiences with our traditions. One that was always a lot of fun was to marathon the Lord of the Rings Trilogy over the course of a day and a half. Usually, I would get up and do some baking in the middle of it, with some help from the boys. But they loved to sit there watch the adventure of Frodo and Sam.
Traditions help us mark time and days of importance. The surface of the tradition might change, but the meaning and the underlying substance will remain the same. Change happens it’s a function of life. Traditions help us cope with change, even when the change is self imposed.