Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stringing a Family Christmas

Now that December is upon us, many people find themselves observing their own holiday celebrations. Those celebrations are likely filled with family traditions. Traditions are important. They help us discover and define who we are.

Tradition is about connecting the present with the past. It's a time to remember the people and activities of yesterday and honor them. I wanted to connect with my past this year, so I decided to do something I've not done since I was a little boy. String popcorn for the Christmas tree.

We've had our Christmas tree up since Thanksgiving. My wife likes to start early. Normally I'm quite a humbug but, for some reason this year I'm looking forward to Christmas.

For Family Home Evening my wife and I gathered our daughters up and decided to string popcorn and cranberries for the tree.

The early Utah Pioneers didn't have stores to go and buy their decorations at. They had to make them on their own. Why not try some fun crafting with the family and make our own, as well?

Getting three young girls together to do anything is a chore, and yes, this did require some work. We had to get things started for all but our oldest daughter, threading the needle, tying off the first cranberry so everything wouldn't just slide off the end. Microwaving the popcorn.

Okay, so the Utah Pioneers didn't have microwaves. We don't have smallpox, so I guess we even.

The only trouble with that is the butter flavoring. Some of the kernels are yellow and have a distinct buttery odor. They aren't the lovely perfect white that I'm sure Martha Stewart would insist on.

I don't care. Martha Stewart doesn't live at my house.

Anyway, we settled down in front of the TV to watch a recording of “It's a Wonderful Life” (another Christmas tradition) and started threading.

Cranberry, popcorn, popcorn ... cranberry, popcorn, popcorn ...

Everything started out okay but, the yarn we started with wasn't working very well. It kept falling apart. Between three kids and two adults I think we only got two salvageable strands and each of those was only a foot long.

Undaunted, we found some thread and smaller needles. It was sort of a hassle, but in the end we were able to add a bit of homey cheer to our tree. It gave our tree a nice finishing touch, I think.

Popcorn and cranberries are a classic look, you know.

To be honest, the hassle was pretty minimal, and it was a great family activity. We (mostly) had fund and it didn't cost much. Three dollars at the most, and that's if you count the needles and thread.

But, those three dollars did a priceless thing. They got a family together, with love, for a few hours one December evening.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

1 comment:

M. Ryan Taylor said...

Every Christmas Eve we have sort of an 'open mic' for everyone to display their talents: sing, read a story, play an instrument. The only problem has become that the older family members have stopped participating. :-( But the next generation does take up the slack to some extent. :-) I made a whole CD of performances from video tapes of the family as we grew up a couple of years back. Some of the performance are awful, but it's fun to hear anyway. ~ M