How tradition and change make for an interesting duo and their relation to my life.
Christmas morning, in the cold state of Minnesota, a young me walks down the white carpeted stairways of my grandma’s house to the living room full of presents. Our stockings were stuffed and spread around the room, with my Aunt Margie asleep on the green velvet couch. My sister, Lizzie and I rushed to see what Santa brought us. I got some games and a brand-new science kit, and my sister got some dolls and clothes for them. We had that pure joy, the kind that you can only see in the eyes of a child. We were the youngest in the family of the cousins, so naturally we were first awake and the most excited about toys, and presents. My parents and brothers eventually joined us downstairs as we were tearing through the little goodies in our stockings and searching for scissors to cut open the boxes everything came in. We saw that Santa ate our cookies, drank our milk, and the reindeer ate the food we left outside. Then to the kitchen we went to eat some breakfast and the day commenced.
Breakfast was long and drawn out as people started to wake up and get ready for their day. Once everyone was ready to go, all thirty to forty of us piled into my grandma’s living room. Tables are moved out, chairs brought in, and kids pushed to the floor. We form some sort of circle like shape of people and then Dirty Bingo starts. For those who don’t know, in my family dirty bingo is when each family or person goes to the dollar store or Target dollar section and buy tiny little gifts. Then they get put in that traditional brown paper lunch bag, we all know too well and then dumped in the middle of my grandma’s living room. Round 1 starts and metal plates get passed around, if you get doubles you get a gift, if you don’t you pass the plate. Once all the gifts are gone, the timer is set for seven minutes, this time when you get doubles you get to steal and this is when it gets fun. At the end we all get to open them together and laugh. It was a production and always a good time. After that we all passed out presents and went youngest to oldest, one by one until it was time for dinner. It was family time and just an opportunity to hang out and be together. Post dinner we got multiple card games going in more than one room, the teens headed to the pinball machine and pool table in the basement, and the “men” went to take their afternoon nap. Eventually everyone faded and slowly headed to bed in the same way we all woke up. It happened like this for as long as I could remember. Then everything changed.
Christmas has always been a big day for my family and one where people came together to be with one another. It was the one time of year that my entire immediate family on one side was together in one house. The Minnesota Christmas tradition was all I had ever known, until life got too busy and we started new traditions. I didn’t grow up with a million dollars, or the best thing on the market, but it was traditions that kept me going and were my nice things to look forward to each year despite any change that might occur. Each family has their own traditions that hold value in their lives. Things that occur that become memories, and are passed down through generations. The moments that happen every year or every few years regardless of circumstance. It's the little things, the moments, those moments where I found peace finally. Change isn’t generally easy for anyone, but this hit me hard in high school when we stopped going to Minnesota.
There is much to be said for change and being able to move through it and embrace it. The pandemic really shaped my outlook on living my life and going through the change, rather than relying on moving from tradition to tradition. It is here when my life started to take shape and things became complete and finally started making sense. So throw away the black and white and start living the gray a bit more. Traditions will always be there as comfort and stability, despite the uncertainty that comes with the rest of life.