When any two people come together to form a new family, there is a blending of traditions. Our respective family traditions are rooted in the customs of our respective heritages: French-Canadian and Polish — perhaps a little harder to blend than in your average couple, not because of the vastness of the differences so much as the strength with which they are held.
That said, every family has its own patterns of behaviour, even as a product of its history, uniquely its own.
One of my favourite family traditions is the jigsaw puzzle. On returning home from midnight mass, my sister and I would break open the box that one or the other of us had inevitably received among our gifts (unwrapped Christmas Eve). It wasn't unusual to stay up past 4 in the morning, making sure the border was assembled and pieces were appropriately sorted. After a few hours' sleep, we'd be back at it. I prefer to spend Christmas Day dressed in new pyjamas.
My mother is often sad at Christmas. In part, this comes from trying to recapture a Christmas from her past, though that ideal picture-perfect holiday had never been captured to begin with. She still hopes that we will gather 'round the piano and sing carols — not any of those modern Christmas songs about Santa either. We've never had a piano.
Since I'm away from them this year, those traditions cannot be upheld, only remembered.
My own vision of an ideal Christmas, so clear that it's almost a memory, consists of everybody pyjama'ed and curled up in their corners, reading by the fireplace. I've never had a working fireplace.
As it is, as a new family we've determined that we will all of us, toddler included, dress our Christmas tree together, no matter how late in December we manage to coordinate it.
J-F has sworn that Christmas Day will be the day of the wearing of the Habs sweater. (Curses! Why did I ever buy it for him that Christmas 5 years ago?!)
I do a reading of The Grinch.
This year was quiet. Fun and games, books and movies, and food. The years to come undoubtedly will see other traditions evolve.
This Christmas has turned out to be the Christmas of playdoh. For all the gifts Helena received, by far her favourite was the one I picked up at the dollar store. For a dollar. Playdoh, with which Helena makes carrots. Then more carrots. (I've been trying to inspire her in the direction of bananas, but no success yet.) I was a little more ambitious: cats, mice, radishes, apple trees, various vehicles, elephants, roses, daisies, and llamas. I feel I may have missed my calling in life.
I look forward to spending the rest of the week unravelling The Globe and Mail's annual (monstrously colossal) Christmas crossword.