Tuesday, December 21, 2010

T - Things I ♥: Tradition

Okay, so normally it's Things I Love Thursday, but it's Monday and this is the letter of the alphabet we're on, so this is the theme ... 

Ask 12 people who know me well to describe me, and I am willing to bet you a ham sandwich that the word 'traditional' will be nowhere on the resulting list. And if you asked me to list my own top 20 attributes, traditional would also not be on that list. And yet, at certain times and seasons - Advent/Christmas, for example - I can be as traditional as it gets. I like my Christmas decorations red, my Christmas trees live, and my reading of the Christmas story King James Version. I like Christmas carols, not Christmas songs. And I like a mandarin orange in my stocking even if there's a big bowl of them on the table. 

But I'm also traditional in a more personal sense. Ever since BB1s first Christmas I've tried to continue some of my family's traditions while creating some of our own. Perhaps rituals is a better word. These little actions that remind us each year of who we are, and that reconnect us. 

I come by it honestly. My Grandma Fuller, who would be 109 this week if she were still alive, was someone who, like the transformed Mr. Scrooge, "knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge." Born in 1901 and raised on a farm in rural Manitoba, Grandma was a distinctly practical woman. Although she was extremely tender-hearted, you wouldn't maybe have guessed that from talking to her. Grandma was a woman of action and solutions who rarely stopped cleaning and baking muffins and darning and crocheting. 

But at Christmastime, the little farm girl came out. Grandma told me a story once, on the occasion of her giving me her treadle Singer sewing machine, about sneaking home from school just before Christmas and seeing her oldest sister May making doll clothes on the machine for Grandma's Christmas present - and as she told the story all the years and distance melted away. 

Most of my growing-up Christmases we spent with my Dad's side of the family. But on the years when we were with Grandma Fuller, we got to experience one of my favourite traditions - Christmas crackers. I don't actually much like the popping noise, and I think the novelties are mostly crap. But man I love wearing a silly paper crown. And I love remembering Grandma, dressed in a pretty dress for dinner, with a cock-eyed crown atop her silver curls. The other tradition we only had with Grandma, unless she mailed us some, was carrot pudding with brown sugar sauce. Nothing compares. It is not figgy pudding. It's carrot pudding, which somehow managed to be both as light as a cloud and as rich and dense as fudge. With brown sugar sauce that was equally tasty on the pudding, on ice cream or off a finger. 

It's hard to believe that Grandma has been gone six years. And yet, in the silly paper hats, the puddings and sauces, the rituals and traditions she taught us, she's still here. (don't even ask me about the candy popcorn tree. :) 


  1. Shan,

    I have been reading all of your December posts, all along the way. Your words move me - to laughter, to delight, to tears, even, to write. You inspire me.

    My box of Christmas crackers is under the tree, waiting for Christmas day. I, too, will be wearing the silly paper hat and trying to figure out how to open a bottle of wine with the silly plastic corkscrew the hat came with. But this year, I am going to think of your Gramma, who I remember distinctly but didn't know well. (much like Scrooge and Christmas Present)

    AND, I am waiting with bated breath, looking forward to seeing what you will do with the letter zed.

  2. Ha - thanks, Shan. I think we'll all be surprised by Zed. ;-)


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