Sure, we all become equipped with our own set of feelings that come during this time of year – it’s what makes us beautifully human. Fond sentiments arise that you may have always counted on, such as the solid foundations of a family tree. As well, some things you may complain about but secretly enjoy – it’s those small things that weave it all together into that crazy time we call “The Holidays!” I’d like to focus us on those time-honored traditions that get threaded through all of that. With a closer look at my own Christmas past, present, and future I found many patterns uniting my family and this life.
I am lucky to have a large extended family on my Mom’s side, with whom we’ve spent many-a-holiday celebrating together in the Laib Family Farmhouse, built in 1883. The kitchen was the heart of the home where my Grandma Evelyn was always wearing her apron while keeping the table full of food. From upstairs came the sound of my many cousins’ footsteps racing around in their new socks, jamming to their latest cassette tapes. In the living room by Grandpa’s chair, the card table was set up with a half-finished puzzle, which would always be completed by the time we left that evening! The holiday cards sent from near and far, along with the advent calendar, hung on the wall by the lit up Christmas tree. Contained in sepia tones and warm feelings – the sights, sounds and smells of these times are all encapsulated in my memory.
Nowadays with my own nuclear family, I want to unearth those feelings, continue to weave those traditions while adding a bit of my own patterns to the mix. In my own kitchen, I wear an apron like my Grandma. I find great joy in cooking enough food to feed our large visiting family. Every year I still get socks for Christmas – something I used to complain about but now have come to count on. During this year’s visit to the farmhouse, there will be a puzzle on a card table, I am certain, and I will add a few pieces before I go. I strive to send out cards on time this year just so I can see my own holiday card nestled on the wall by the calendar with the other cousin family updates and well wishes.
By continuing on with traditions, and the consistent rhythm of weaving, we keep our children and ourselves rooted in our own past, present and future.
Crystel Curley's Great-Great-Grandparents Norah O'Brien-Bradt & Sheldon Bradt (Civil War Veteran). Photo taken circa 1888. (Pictured L to R: George: Great-Great-Uncle, Eugene: Great-Grandfather, and Mary: Great-Great-Aunt/Gaylord Nelson's Mother.)
Crystel Curley's children, Finnegan & Iris Curley,
sitting on same farm porch as their ancestors, gathering for the holidays!