Good morning, Netizens...
I read an article by Cindy Hval in yesterday's Spokesman-Review called Front Porch: Christmas Traditions Move Along that spoke volumes to me about Christmas Traditions, most of which I never enjoyed until recent years. In her piece, Cindy opens up the doorway of perception, allowing us as readers into her personal space at Christmas time. All those quaint, heartwarming bits and pieces of Christmas ornaments, her Norwegian heritage, her kids and their Christmas stockings, even her infamously misbehaving cats all have become part of her tradition of Christmas.
However, as both she and my wife have taught me, much to our chagrin, even Christmas traditions move on from where they once were to new places and new ways of being. Cindy's reverie of Christmas traditions almost brought me to tears, not so much because I shared so many of them, but I never shared most of them until I married a woman with strong traditional background over a decade ago, and my life has never been the same since.
When it comes to Christmas traditions, I cannot help but remember the late Gus Jordan, a cab driver in downstate Illinois, who once started my first Christmas tradition quite by accident. It was a time of solitary transition, when I was in the midst of beginning a career driving long-haul trucks for a living. I made a promise to Gus, late one Christmas Eve, that I would somehow manage, despite the miles that were to separate us, that once in awhile I would find my way back to wherever he happened to be driving his cab, to spend Christmas Eve with him, a promise which I kept for several years until his death.
Since neither of us had much in the way of family lives that we could cling on to, our Christmas tradition consisted of a quiet meal in one of the many hole-in-the-wall eating places we both knew well, and driving around in his cab throughout the downstate area looking at the Christmas lights and listening to Christmas carols on the AM radio. One Christmas Eve we even drove from South Chicago to East Saint Louis where we welcomed Christmas in Gas Light Square singing carols with a Dixieland Jazz band in some forgotten bistro.
I am beginning to learn the new traditions of Christmas from my wife. This Christmas Eve we attended a thought-provoking Christmas Eve service at a nearby church. Like Cindy, I haven't clung to the old traditions. Instead, I have made new ones.