The holidays are steeped with tradition in the Aucello household. A walk through our living room is a stroll down holiday memory lane. I hope these ideas inspire your family to create many wonderful, memorable traditions.
Sequined felt tree skirt
My grandmother made this for my father when he got married. Over the years a candle melted and stained it red, and felt ornaments fell off. My mother valiantly tried to save bits and pieces, as she knew how we looked forward to seeing it each year. When my grandmother died we found an identical, pristine tree skirt among her linens.
Grandmother made one for me, and my mother crafted one for her grandchildren. Likewise, I will do the same for mine.
My grandfather used to make these buttery delights at Christmas time. The handmade cookie iron produces just two cookies at a time. After my grandmother passed away, I took on the role of French cookie maker. My kids and I make them, package them in a special tin and send them to the cousins on the Mainland each year.
Christmas card display
We adorn the doorway with Christmas cards from family and friends, just like Grandma used to do.
Every Christmas this beautiful set was displayed under our tree. When my mom passed away, this was one of the most meaningful items I inherited. My mom added a giant pine-cone tree that I decorated with beads as a kindergartener. When Isabella was in kindergarten, I had her decorate a pine cone with beads. This year, my kindergartener Luca made one as well. Their pine cones are now both attached to the tree. My mom is smiling down on this one.
In addition to carrying on the ones I grew up with, we’ve started new traditions that my children can pass on to their children.
Handprint tree skirt
Our tree skirt is adorned with our kids’ handprints, with new prints each year as they continue to grow. I use white acrylic paint and have each child practice on paper several times before adding his or her handprint to the skirt. I stencil the year in below.
Framed photos of each child
I frame a photo of each of my children that comes from our annual Christmas family photo session. The goal is to collect them through the years and pass them on to my children when they get married. The trouble is, I’m very attached to these photos. Perhaps I'd better make back-up copies for me!
Each year, we select an ornament or two for the kids. If we take a trip to another city we select an ornament or a small souvenir that can hang as one. Some years, it’s simply an ornament that is meaningful to all of us, such as the beloved dog, Max, from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I keep a list of when and where they were purchased and I buy three. I hang one on the tree each year and tuck the kids’ away for later. I plan to hand them a box of memories when they move out, to decorate their first tree away from home.
Many years ago, my brother made wooden boxes for each member of the family. He included little post-it-note-size slips of paper and tiny ribbons, as well as this brief explanation:
“The Wish Box is designed to hold important stuff, such as wishes for the upcoming year, predictions about what you hope will happen to you and the people you love, and memories of all the fantastic things that have happened to you the past 12 months.”
He went on to say that, each year on Christmas Day, everyone should record their wishes and predictions for the New Year, as well as their accomplishments in the past year. Then, they should tuck the slips of paper away until the following year. Of course, you also read the previous year's slip and see how your predications fared.
I have kept this special tradition to myself for 13 years. I plan to finally share it with my family. The “Thankful Trees” we create each November inspire and remind our family for what we should be thankful. My hope is that the “Wish Box” will allow us to notice newsworthy events throughout the year, such as losing teeth, kudos at work, trips taken, special visitors and, quite possibly, events my kids consider important that I would have overlooked. We’ll tweak my brother's directions a bit and see what happens. Whatever we collect over the year will be summarized and recorded on one paper for 2013.
Creating a Wish Box
Even the smallest members of the family can participate. You don’t need a handmade wooden box, any vessel will do. Get fancy and use special paper or make it easy and use post-it notes. I usually record a few significant events and make a few predictions and wishes on one piece of paper, then roll it and secure with a ribbon. Once rolled, I write the year in the corner so I can find it easily the next year.
Traditions and memories are wonderful ways of keeping loved ones, near and far, in your life. Some of our traditions are in their fourth generation, while others are brand new. Some we’ll keep and others might fall to the wayside. I know my kids look forward to each one. The time we spend together working on them is the purest definition of the holidays to me.