Silver and Gold | Blending the new with the old – Part One
Christmas Tree Shopping
On the day after Thanksgiving, my family has traditionally gone to a tree farm to cut down the perfect tree. If we weren’t able to go on the day immediately following Thanksgiving, we’d go shortly after that. As a child, I absolutely hated getting the tree. I refused to sing the Christmas carols and I pouted during the entire trip. I have no idea why I was such a sour apple about the tradition, but I do know that it is a big deal in my family to this day, and it is one that I continued after I got married.
Last year, for the first time… I chose to stay home while my family went out. My parents, whom we were living with at the time, took my children out to find the perfect tree. When my husband died on the day before Valentine’s Day, I knew that day would always be difficult for me. I did not anticipate that other holidays might also be difficult without him. But the late Autumn and early Winter Holidays are often difficult for families who have lost loved ones, and my family was no exception. While my family was out, I spent a lot of time crying and thinking of more traditions we would either have to carry on without him or the traditions we would just decide to give up. When my kids and parents arrived home from the tree farm I had pizza with them, and smiled gratefully, but still could not bring myself to open the storage bins of our Christmas decorations.
Silver and Gold
There is a little saying about friends that I have always loved. It goes like this: “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” Sometimes when we make new friends, the old friends start to fade into the distance. For some friendships, this makes sense… some people come into our lives and we into theirs for a specific time and reason. And as hard as it is, as painful as it can be, I have found that when some time has passed, it is ok to let go of them and move forward with what you’ve gained from each other. There are other friendships, however, that run deep and long. Those are the friends you might not see or with whom you might not talk for months or even years, but you still consider each other close. Friends that span the tests of time, life stages, conflict and distance are like precious gold. New friends, with bright perspectives and energy, are like shiny silver.
I think that traditions are like friends. With each passing holiday, or special day, or just with life in general, we build traditions. Sometimes the things we do will stick for another year and then fade. Other times, they will last for years upon years and even pass through multiple generations. When I was growing up, my mom attempted to create many traditions for our family, but they weren’t all as successful as our Christmas Tree acquiring process. Some of my favorite traditions that did stick were Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day, an outdoor music festival on Labor Day and themed birthday parties almost every year. The traditions that stood the test of time are golden traditions, and many of them are things that we still do today.
But, just like friendships, it is good to also make new ones as we learn and grow and go through new situations and circumstances. When something happens, especially like a tragedy such as the death of a loved one or a joyful event like a wedding, it’s a good idea to look at the “whys” of the tradition. What makes this thing worthy of doing again? Would it enrich your life to continue this or would it be more stressful than helpful? Is there a way to alter the tradition to fit your life better this year? Is it time to create something new?
Finding My Blended Tradition
About a week before Thanksgiving, I felt ready to attempt more traditions, both old and new. I searched for and found those red and green bins of decorations in my mountain of storage. Slowly, at first, I opened the bright red lid and peered into a box full of artificial greenery and lights. I dug beneath it and found a porcelain Christmas village all wrapped up in newspaper. In the next box, I found Christmas books and movies, stockings and some noisy toys. The third box contained many colorful ornaments. A tear slipped down my cheek, but a smile stretched across my face. Was I enjoying this? I felt a little bit like the Grinch in that moment, with my heart expanding a little bigger and the Christmas Spirit beginning to light up the box in front of me. After a few minutes, the emotions began to overwhelm me so I closed the box, but began to look forward to what this Christmas might hold as I brought some of the old into the new.
When the time came to get the tree after Thanksgiving, I decided to stay back again. During that time I was able to begin preparing for the Winter holidays. I did a little bit of writing, sipped some holiday flavored coffee and listened to an old playlist of Christmasy songs. As I diffused some “Christmas Spirit” essential oil, I began to feel happy. When my boys returned with stories from the tree farm of tractor-pulled trains, horses and treats, I was excited with them because I felt refreshed. My boys and I decorated the tree with beads and ornaments, both new and old. There is a lot of silver on our tree, but there is also plenty of gold.