Christmas is more than a holiday.
It’s a spirit, a feeling, a melody, a smell—even a warm memory. There are many ways to make new Christmas traditions, creating memories that your loved ones will cherish.
A taste of home
As a child, one of the things Eileen Hotaling looked forward to each Christmas was her grandmother’s date nut pinwheel cookies.
“I thought about those cookies for weeks before Christmas,” Hotaling said.
Years later, Hotaling joined the Army and was a stationed nurse in Vietnam. She never dreamed that her grandmother’s cookies would show up in a box wrapped in layers of tape. Hotaling and her fellow nurses took the cookies to the flight line and devoured the entire box right then and there.
“To this day, when I think of Grandma’s date nut pinwheel cookies, I think of the love she put into them and how good they made me feel,” she said.
This year, make a point of being present, rather than focusing on presents.
Dottie Follman is a spry 96-year-old with noticeable dimples. Her early Christmases would be almost unrecognizable to children today.
“My dad worked up in Ophir at the mines. He had a team of six horses and it was his job to load the sled with ore and drive it down a twisting, dangerous mountain. He got $3 a day,” Follman said, shaking her head at the thought. “Christmas back then wasn’t about presents. It was about getting a day off to celebrate another year of life and health. My feeling of contentment was out of this world when we were all able to be under one roof together. No school, no work for my dad or siblings, just warmth, food and rest.”
At the end of the day, Follman would warm flat irons on the stove, wrap them in cloth and put one by her feet and one on her back to keep warm.
“I’d snuggle into bed with a full belly while listening to the coyotes sing. I thought I was in heaven,” she said.
Follman learned the basics are more than enough.
“Christmas is about sharing yourself with the people you care about,” she said.
Try a getaway
In lieu of holiday presents, Sarah Combs’ extended family members spend Christmas together overseas and in different states, but never in each other’s homes.
“My feeling of contentment was out of this world when we were all able to be under one roof together. No school, no work for my dad or siblings, just warmth, food and rest.”
“Travel takes the pressure off as far as buying presents, decorating and cooking,” said Combs.
Each family takes turns providing meals for two nights, and they share lodging.
“[It’s] a fantastic way to spend time together while making new family stories around holidays,” she said.
Along the river in New Orleans, people traditionally build bonfires at Christmas. Lesley Hallenborg remembers her mother holding her hand and walking up and down the riverbank to different pyramid-shaped fires, some more than 30 feet tall. Each is built by friends, families and co-workers.
Hallenborg’s mother told her the fires lit the way for Papa Noel to find the homes of good girls and boys.
Christmas can be sharing food, family, travel or memories…or it can simply be a quiet reflection. May the spirit of Christmas be with you always.