The two holidays that exemplify tradition to me come at the end of each year with , first, Thanksgiving, followed close behind by Christmas. It's at this time of year that I reflect back on the things which give me comfort and solace; whether it be Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, or the aroma of Diane's fresh baked Cinnamon buns, there is a treasure chest full of sensory delights that contribute to my relishing the life and times I've been granted by the Grace of God and his son. Traditions change, and it seems even more so today. One of the traditions that change is the venue of the celebrations. For our immediate family, the venues migrated to the home where the young children resided. With each migration our traditions are tweaked and blended in with those we grew up with, bringing a freshness to the old habits.
While Christmas day will, once again be greeted warmly at the Morristown Manse this year of our Lord, 2009, two of our children will be absent from the gathering around the tree. For there is a new member of the family making her stamp on our Christmas: Sophia Aubrey LaRock will be the focus of Christmas in Buffalo with her Parents and the new tradition begins. Weather permitting, Grandma and grandpa along with auntie Michelle will make their way to Sophia's home to celebrate with her, her first Christmas.
For a number of years now grandma and grandpa have traveled to Texas to celebrate Christmas in the first week of December with our middle son and our two grand daughters. This year that celebration took place at Disney World in Florida.
Our traditions are changing; as they should.
Along with Bing Crosby etal, "twas the night before Christmas" has always been a favorite, of mine, to read and recite at Christmas tide. In the 1970's a new missive rose to the top of my favorite reads and audutory enjoyments. The "Walton's" Christmas album came out with a recitation by Will Geer, as Grandpa Walton, telling us what Christmas means to him. Since then I've always made it a point to read and listen to this piece and it has become a regular in my things to reflect upon and enjoy, if not all year long , at least at this time of year when we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ.
I've published that piece here on the blog before and it bears republishing again this year:
Grandpa's Christmas Wish Lyrics by Will Geer - Grandpa Walton Christmas Message, What is Christmas?
It is a time when some of your dreams come true. Every year it roles around and takes you by surprise some of the time, especially when you’re as close to a 100 years old as I am. You think...it Can’t be time for another one, but there it is with all it’s hope and joy and the promise of the wishes granted. I bet you wonder what I wish for. What could an old man wish for? Maybe you think I would wish to be young again. I don’t want that. Being young is a painful thing. Being young and in love to boot, which most young people are, is even more agony. I’ll tell you what I wish. I’d wish for the power to return some of the love that’s been given me. I’d wish the time and place for all that giving could be commemorated like the heart I carved on the tree around your Grandmother’s and my initials. I wish too for more days to my life. Time...time to give to children some of the beauty of this Earth that has been revealed to me. A drop of water is a wondrous thing.A spade full of earth is a kingdom in itself. A cloud is worth watching as it passes from one horizon to another. A bird building its nest is as wondrous as men building the Pyramid, and any green thing that grows is proof that God exists. It all comes into focus at Christmas. It is a tender time. We grow cautious because we open ourselves to love. We exchange gifts, but what those presents really say is "I love you." It makes some folks uncomfortable to say or hear these words. Maybe it’s because they’ve never learned the secret of the given heart. There are more takers than givers in the world. People, communities even countries spending their time grubbing and rooting for the goods of this earth like pigs after acorns in the Fall of the year. This is a country with a given heart and I pray it will always be so. It’s a good country and it’s part of our strength, something that we brought with us as pioneers that we can share with the fellow who is down on his luck, with those who suffered calamities: with the loss of their homes or land or their hope. This is a family with a giving heart. You children may squabble and bicker among yourselves but you’ve been taught to love and to give, and that’s the greatest present your Momma and Daddy could have given you. So take pleasure in the trappings of Christmas. Be merry like the songs say. Revel in the tinsel and the glitter and the sparkle and sing the old songs for all the joy that’s in them and the memories they bring back. But to touch the real Christmas, to feel the true spirit of the season, look to your own heart and find all the secret treasures that they’re there to give. There is one wish that I make every year. I never said it aloud before, but I’ll tell it to you now. I wish for all the seasons I have known, endlessly to come and go; the dogwood Spring, the watermelon Summer, the russet and gold of Autumn. I wish for Christmas to come again and for each of us to be here again next year at this time...together, safe, warm and loved as we are at this moment.
To all my friends, cyber friends, facebook friends, co-workers, past and present, my children and grand children And most especially my Wife Diane: Merry Christmas. Thanks for brightening my life at this time and all throughout the years.