The final push of the semester is over with this post and I have twelve glorious days of freedom from school—both teaching and my classes. I have stockpiled a few projects to tackle in the break, but the deadlines are my own to meet or miss.
This year marks my first fall semester and the holidays have snuck up on me. It is the perfect time to reflect on our family traditions and maybe start some new ones. My proactive friends have strung up the lights, checked off their shopping lists, sent out the beautiful photo cards, baked the cookies and tied the bow onto the last wrapped package. Well, good for them—show-offs.
The lights were strung in early December thanks to my nine-year old son, Spence. He is on top of the Christmas decorating each year. I love it when a kid gets convenient. Shopping officially started last Friday; might need a little more work in that department. The late start is not a new Hartman holiday tradition. Thanks to Pat, the UPS guy for delivering the good stuff. Somebody tell our vet the dog is porky because of Pat’s treats and not the dirty plates I let him clear.
I am a few years behind on the photo card front, but March is a great time to send a little cheer around the country. Besides, cards sent in December get a smile in return. Cards in March get letters and phone calls in return. I know this because 2012 will not be the first year I miss the December mark. Hey, hey! We are already celebrating new traditions.
Now we rock in the cookie department. Chocolate chip cookies have been baked more times than I can count. We send out at least 6 dozen cookies a month year round. Cookie exchanges, bake sale fundraisers, by requests, classes and one soccer celebration in the past few weeks have yielded over 30 dozen cookies baked in our ovens. Well okay, I guess I counted. My fifteen-year old daughter produced more than half of the lot and sometimes even washed the dishes to boot. Child labor rules!
It would be rude to expect completed gift-wrapping at this point. Frankly, it should be clear by now that it simply hasn’t happened. My eleven-year old son and I did wrap the gifts together for my family in Colorado. The freeloading kitten was a big help, so those gifts have a little extra love enclosed. It really shouldn’t bother anyone those packages were the only items purchased months in advance, but shipped on the 20th. Checked off my list, hurray!
My favorite new tradition I copied from a friend—imitation is the highest form of flattery. For the last several years I have found ornaments for the kids that reflect their activities or interests. My youngest son loves making smoothies, so he got a blender ornament. Another kid's ornament celebrates the two Ravens games he attended. My avid Harry Potter fan got an ornament that depicts the famous trio fleeing the fiendfyre. The ornaments have initials and a year, are stored in individual kid boxes and will go with them when they start their families.
Old traditions are plentiful. We hang the ornaments from good friends year after year and we make room for the new ones. We read the same Christmas book each Christmas Eve, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. As the kids get older, we add to the mix with Christmas movies like A Christmas Story and Scrooged. We set out cookies, grandma’s fudge and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. As long as we are together, we will make new traditions as we go.