Old and New Traditions

Dave and Honour are home from school and the holidays have officially begun. It still doesn’t really feel like Christmas but I’m not waiting for it or trying to make it happen. It’s amazing what makes Christmas feel like Christmas. Snow (at least cold), the stores crowded and bustling, work parties, friend parties, kid parties, school parties, church parties, special dinners, dances and of course incessant Christmas music everywhere you go (somehow that makes it sound like a bad thing so I should clarify that I really love the music).

Here in Qatar there are a few Christmas decorations around and Christmas music on the radio. I don’t listen to the radio much but I have heard a bit – christmas music of the Santa-Claus-Is-Coming-To-Town variety, not the Joy-to-the-World-the-Lord-Is-Come variety. Obviously.

So there have been very few triggers for that ol’ christmas spirit. Which is actually fine by me. The biggest part of the Christmas spirit over the years has come from my kids. Celebrating with them, new party dresses, new jammies (a traditional Christmas event at our house), movies, presents, keeping secrets, scheming with each other about what to get each person in the house. It’s all about the kids. I know there’s more and very meaningful parts of christmas but that excited festive spirit? That comes from my girls. Who aren’t going to be with me for the first time in 22 years.  Which I thought was really hard and weird until I got a Christmas card this week from my Mom saying “It’ll be strange not to spend Christmas with you this year, for the first time in 48 years” – gulp.

So why would I want to try too hard to rustle up warm fuzzy feelings only to have to control them later. So my strategy has been to embrace the new and glean from it what I can. When I remember the old, and feel nostalgic and maybe a touch melancholy I say a prayer of thanksgiving that I have girls who I love so much and for the happy times we’ve had (and will have again of course) and a family that I love and friends I couldn’t live without – and know that the sadness is an indication of the beauty that I have been privileged to be part of. Deep connections, love, warmth, kindness – are the gifts that remain.

Old Tradition:

If kids make christmas – go find some. I had so much fun baking cookies with our neighbours while their parents were out. When their parents returned I had dinner ready and enough for another family as well. We made it into an impromptu little christmas party, sang a few carols (at the suggestion of my Muslim neighbour who has gone out of her way to try to ignite the christmas spirit for me, so sweet, so unexpected). That felt like the Christmas I know, kids rolling dough, flour on the floor for days, a table full of warm friendly faces and lots of yummy food (if I do say so myself) and music. And, success, it was only happy. Not one sad feeling. That was nice!

New Tradition:

Today Honour is preparing to go to Canada (2 more sleeps!) so we got her hands henna-ed. Maybe this should be our new Christmas tradition. It looks great!

Blessings to you all as you connect with those you love and enjoy the Christmas season.

Sending love from our house in Qatar, and its extensions in Saskatchewan (Jennica), Winnipeg (Annie) and Ontario (Honour) to yours,

Tracie

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Old and New Traditions

  1. Elizabeth Barr

    Very inspiring Traci. The baking looked like lots of fun … what a mess! The henna, beautiful! Moving away from the family does pose challenges and you are embracing yours so well. We too are attempting to do the same … I’ll send you a note about ours. Miss you much. Love Liz

  2. Ronalda Jones

    So very lovely. Thanks for sharing the deeper meaning of Christmas so beautifully – deep love and giving. Merry, Merry Christmas from the Furlong-Jones’.

  3. Snip

    Well… you DID say this was a time of re-invention for you. I get it, tho: some traditional activities are almost genetic, they’re so dug in. And Christmas would certainly be one of those. Glad, in a way, for you… it is allowing you to discover a new way, and maybe a more real one?

    I really noticed your mother’s comment. We’re changing tradition here for my mother. She cannot really travel anymore (and I cannot yet), so this year we are doing the big shindig at Sunshine’s house in London, ON, which is more or less half-way for both of us. First time not here, but it allows us all to come together (even Esther is coming home from Britain)

    Love love love Honour’s henna treatment! Contemporary. MUST show my girls!

    • Makes me want to sing …”to every season turn, turn turn”. And it feels like fall – nostalgic, reflective and beautiful if you look up and look for it. Blessings to you, Wilma and all the girls.

  4. While I read your post, I have Michael Buble’s new Christmas CD playing (Feliz Navidad at the moment) and my butter, flour and vanilla are sitting on the kitchen counter, ready to be turned into my ‘famous’ whipped shortbreads with a big chunk of Toblerone on top and in-between batches, I’m wrapping a few gifts on the dining room table.. which the ‘furry kids’ are eagerly helping me with.

    I like your idea of adapting to a new kind of Christmas. We are also on our own this year, as Shannon is in London, England with friends and I will be missing our Christmas Eve tradition of giving her a pair of new pajamas, slippers or socks to match and an ornament that has some significance – sometimes that one is hard to find but somehow, the perfect one seems to reveal itself to me, when I’m NOT thinking about it.

    The pics of the kids in the kitchen are priceless and you’re creating a wonderful memory for them too. Merry Christmas Tracie, Dave and Honour. xx

  5. Loved reading your post as I’m also working on a Christmas post. There’s so much to say about the subject. Love the henna idea. Where did she get it done? I might have to go there with my girls!

    • Hi Christine, Thanks for following along. We got the henna done here in Al Khor at the Al Khor Ladies Salon (I think it’s called). Super cheap if you ask me. 60 QR. I was expecting more. I look forward to reading your post.

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