Saturday, December 18, 2010

"K" is for Keeping Family Traditions

Many of us have family traditions, those special and unique customs that we have either started ourselves or that began long ago and have been handed down from generation to generation.  Whether it's a game of Uno every saturday afternoon or going on a cruise every year for a birthday or an  anniversary, these traditions are very special to us and are meant to be kept and passed on.

Many of the most sacred family traditions take place during the Christmas Season when we all get together to spend quality time with the ones we love the most.

My family has a very unique tradition that my relatives have been taking part in for many Holiday Seasons.  It means so very much to us, and I hope it continues on for many generations to come.

While I was growing up we never had a Christmas Tree.  When my friends would talk about what kind or what colours their trees would be decorated with, I couldn't wait until they asked me about mine so that I could tell them that we didn't have a tree, that we had something we thought was better, we had "Our Santa" instead.  They would be a little confused and would have to see him to understand.  But when they did, they would all love him, almost as much as we did. 

The black and white pictures above are of "Our Santa" in his early years soon after his inception.  The additional pictures of him were taken more recently, and the one below was taken last year at my little sister's house where he now resides.

I wasn't yet born when "Our Santa" was created so I asked my Mom to tell me what she remembers, and she told me that years ago in the 1940's my Great-Grandmother, who we called Nanny, became a Grandmother and wanted to do something special for her Grandchildren for Christmas, something to make the holidays jollier. She decided to make them "Our Santa".  She had an old dress form that she put my Great-Grandfather's old pants and jacket on.  These were stuffed to make the shape of the body.  The head was also stuffed and attached to the dress forms neck.  His hat was sewn and had cotton batting for trim and a pom-pom, his face was a full piece cotton mask with hair and a beard.  It has been replaced over the years, and he sometimes wears glasses.  Pieces of red fabric were hand pinned over the clothes to make the pants, cotton batting was pinned as trim and my great-grandfather's old gum boots gave him feet.  The same was done to make his arms, yet gloves were attached for hands.  Fabric was draped, pleated and pinned to make the shirt of his suit.  It was all done in pieces, pinned on by hand.  Cotton batting trims the shirt and his black belt was added around his belly which is made as fat or as slim as you want it to be by the amount of stuffing added.  At one time there was an object in his belly that when pushed would make "Our Santa" HO HO HO.  Sometimes the sound startled people, but us kids pushed it so often I think we eventually broke it.  My Great-Grandfather's old service bag was used, and has been ever since, as Santa's sack for toys.  To remember the real reason for celebrating Christmas my family had always had our Nativity Scene set up under, beside or near him.

"Our Santa" was passed down from my Great-Grandmother to my Grandmother, then down to my Mom and all of my three siblings have had their turns setting him up in their homes for Christmas.  I have had the Nativity Scene passed down to me, and as I am sitting here typing this I can see it, and I get a warm feeling inside.

Growing up with our family tradition of having "Our Santa" watch over us at Christmas and knowing he will be put up and loved for many more years makes me smile and very happy.  I want to thank my Nanny for creating him, for putting all of the love and care into a project that has given so much joy to so many of us.  And a thank you to my Nana and Mom for carrying on the tradition that I have cherished for so long.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions that you have had passed down to you, or any new Christmas traditions that you just started or want to start?  I hope you do and that those traditions make you very happy and continue to do so,  Merry Christmas!    

1 comment:

Sweetpea said...

Traditions are a blessing and this is truely a wonderful one. Our family tradition involved how we decorated our tree. My siblings and I would pick up a branch and place it in its slot march around and pick up another branch all while listinging to Christmas songs like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "I'm Getting Nothing for Christmas". Although we had real trees for my kids when they were little we played the same songs and my boys put their ornaments on the tree. (I have bought them one every Christmas since their very first...a new tradition started by us) My boys are 20 and 18 and while we haven't played the music the past few years they still put their own ornaments on the tree while we remember which Christmas each one was given to them.