a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Archive for December 2, 2012

holiday traditions (sunday setup 12/2/12)

Pickle Ornament

Pickle Ornament (Photo credit: firepile)

< by Jill >

Right now, I’m in the living room of Nate’s childhood home. A girthy spruce occupies the adjacent room, creating a broad canopy for gifts.  The topmost sprig scrapes the ceiling at a 90-degree angle. In a matter of days, the boughs will bob under the weight of lights, tinsel, and three glass pickles.

The tree, the lights, the pickles — all of these things stem from tradition; some handed down through the centuries, others minted in the last few years. In contrast to the Carey family, my family adopted a post-modern approach to holidays: We didn’t have or observe traditions. We designed a new approach each year, effectively eliminating expectations and facilitating completely new experiences.

Nonetheless, tradition snuck in anyway. One year, my mom decorated the tree with antique pink ornaments. Fueled by the family’s approval, she replicated it again and again, until a pink tree became a holiday must. Another year, she wrapped all the presents in newspaper. We’ve since stopped buying wrapping paper altogether.

I’m beginning to realize that tradition is part and parcel with human nature. We yearn to replicate great experiences, to relive the golden days of yore. At the intersection of joy and memory, we find habits. We find traditions. And that’s okay, as long as we’re open to change.

This week, each story will explore a holiday tradition. You’ll get the full low-down on the pickles, the pink ornaments, and the impetus for packaging gifts in auto ads or comic strips.