- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
There’s no stopping it. The Christmas books have been taken out of the upstairs closet. Apparently The Grinch couldn’t stop it, the 80 degree temperatures of last week couldn’t thwart it. So, we just let it happen. With the coming of December 1st. the Advent calendar is brought up from the basement, the floodgates are slowly opened and the holidays begin.
Everyday Debbie puts a different treat into the tiny little holes in the wooden advent calendar I made while listening to the 2000 election results on the radio in my workshop. Since the holes are so small the advent experience has morphed into clues being placed into the holes which leads our boys on a mad search around the house reminiscent of an angry mob storming Frankensteins castle.
Sometimes (almost ecery day) we get a up a little bit on the late side so the Advent experience sometimes waits till after the boys get home from school.
A weekend Advent hunt turned up a gingerbread house kit. They went right to work consuming rather than constructing the stale panels, icing and candy.
When does a tradition start? When does a tradition become a tradition? What is a tradition? I think a tradition is something that is is repeated (no matter how silly) year after year,interwoven by a thread of family and friends. It’s like looking at those books and photo albums on your grandparents’ bookshelves. You’ve looked at them so many times that you don’t have to take them down to know what’s in them.Â When our friend Catriona (who is from Wales) brought her traditional “flaming pudding” over for dessert accompanied by lasagna, a memory in me was rekindled. Lasagna for me means tradition. No matter what holiday meal we celebrated at Nana Louise’s and Grandpa Sandy’s there was a lasagna. Thanksgiving was turkey and lasagna. At Easter it was a ham and lasagna. Anyone’s birthday, it was cake, and lasagna. At Christmas it was usually seafood and some kind of meat and of course, lasagna.
Catriona makes great lasagna, almost as good as Nana Louises’. After our dinner of lasagna, bra-sol,e stuffed artichokes (for which I called my Dad for guidance )and Caesar salad, we waddled down to Ocean Ave. to see the Santa Monica tradition of “The Christmas Story”.
A tradition since 1953, it consists of tableaus of biblical scenes highlighting the birth of the Baby Jesus. Getting slightly off the path here but here’s a link to a wonderful Mary and Joseph story by Dina Donahue we heard read at a holiday concert last week. Anyways, back to Santa Monica-Â Each tableau, sponsored by a local church is comprised of old mannequins from Henshey’s Department Store(defunct since 1993) dressed in fake beards, topsider loafers, and caftans from old Henshey’s stock telling “The Christmas Story.” If you are ever in Santa Monica at Christmas do go see it. The city has blocked off parking in front of the tableau’s so you can see the Christmas Story the true So Cal. way – Drive Thru- I’ll have an order of frankincense, myrrh, and large fries.
Back home for the flaming pudding! (everything taste better when it’s on fire)
Another tradition we seem to be upholding at our house this year is that it’s 2 days before Christmas (it’s practically here) and we haven’t got our Christmas cards out yet, so I’m signing off to get back to licking envelopes. Merry Christmas!
Do you remember those ads in comic books selling you things that that you wished were true, but never quite happened. Things like x-ray vision glasses, a life size submarine, sea monkeys, and throwing your voice. They promised a world of craziness and fantasy that messed with our kid mind of longing for a world of craziness and fantasy. Maybe that’s why we read comic books.
The gift placed in the box for day 3 of advent was a little snowman promising that if you submerge it in water it will grow to 600 times its size. I had a feeling this wasn’t true. The kids however were pretty excited about having a big snowman around the house for the holidays. So what to do? I kept on saying, “you need to soak the snowman in a large body of water, like our bathtub, if you really want it to get huge. Then it’s to the workshop with old plywood, zigsaw and paint to create what was promised.
So, after the shape is cut, the snowmans’ paint is dry and I’ve convinced the kids that they need to soak the small one in the bathtub overnight the switch is made. And, in the morning we were all surprised by a snowman who has grown 600 times its original size.
The arrival of December 1st brings the advent calender up from the basement. I made this box in November of 2000 during the Bush vs. Gore election. I mention this for no other reason then to say the radio in my workshop was tuned to NPR during the duration of this project.(I moved on to conservative A.M. talk radio for the past election) Every time I bring it up from the basement I think of that bizarre election.Â It’s a bit crude, clunky and funky but it’s become a tradition in our house. Debbie stays up late to stash little trinkets, clues and holiday riddles and jokes in the wee little boxes. Sometimes the morning brings a chaotic pushing and shoving brought about by the opening of the box. There are inevitably shouts of “It’s unfair”!,” Is this all we get?”, “Do you want to trade? ” We keep on threatening that if the ungrateful behavior continues we will go out to the drugstore and get a store bought calender like I had when I was a kid. I loved that calender.