I would like to take a moment to welcome Kari Nichols to my blog. She is a new friend that I met on twitter. Kari and her husband recently moved to France. I know you will enjoy Kari’s Holiday Tradition.
Kari’s Holiday Tradition
Throughout my short twenty-nine years, my family’s holiday traditions have evolved and changed. I grew up with my mother and father and two older sisters in Little Rock, Arkansas. We weren’t raised like a typical southern family—my parents were both raised in the Southwest by parents from the Northeast (creating a completely unique culture for myself and my sisters). The deep-rooted family traditions held closely by most families weren’t present in my life. My family made our own traditions, and we stuck with them for as long as they made sense. My parents didn’t feel the need to hold onto traditions that didn’t work with older children as well as they did when we were young. We had a streak of about five years of Advent wreaths—complete with weekly candle lightings and scripture readings. There was another span of six or seven years where our family would make several varieties of Christmas cookies together. When we were all living under the same roof, my sisters and I would take turns placing the tree topper after the tree was completely decorated. But none of these traditions stuck as we grew into adults and began families of our own.
So as I sit here thinking of what holiday traditions my family has always had and continues to celebrate, I’m left with one:
From the time we were babies, my parents instilled into us that Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time for gratefulness.
Now, that may seem cheesy, but every year of my life—as far back as I can remember—my family has taken time during the holiday season to give thanks for what we have. At Thanksgiving, my mother used to grab a handful of uncooked corn kernels and divide them equally amongst our family. We had to take turns saying what we were thankful for (no repeating what anyone else said!), placing a kernel in the center of the table each time, until all the kernels were used. Once we were older, the kernels were no longer used, but the rest of the tradition remained.
The things my mother would say during that time still stick with me. While most people might think of the typical stuff to be grateful for—“a good family,” “the holiday gathering,” “tasty food,” etc., my mother would always throw in a few surprises: “running water,” “electricity,” “enough money to buy food for a meal.”
It quickly transformed my thoughts into a place of absolute gratefulness. “I’m sitting in a heated home, with enough food for ten people even though there are only five of us. And cooking this meal was a breeze because of the stove, oven, and running water.” The tradition turned our entire holiday season into a time where we felt grateful for even the smallest detail—like waking up in a comfortable bed with clean sheets. And it made our Christmas presents—no matter how small or inexpensive—seem like grandiose gifts fit for only the richest of families.
And so I am thankful for a family that taught me how to truly be grateful for everything I have. That is the holiday tradition that I hope I will never lose.
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