Unmatched by any other month, December = tradition.  (I refuse to say that December is “about” tradition.)

We get a tree.  This was discussed last night at the dinner table.  Our 2009 tree came from a tree farm.  Seeing it out in the wide open field, it was hard to judge how tall 8′ really was – until the tree came into our house.  Also, its needles were so incredibly prickly that we needed tongs to hang the lights and ornaments.  RESOLVED:  the 2010 tree will be shorter, and kinder to the hands.

We hang the outside lights.  By “we,” I now mean Chris and the boys (it’s so great when the kids are old enough to help!)   This was done yesterday, with Malcolm as chief assistant.  On Saturday, Chris visited four different stores in search of just the right lights to match the few strands that had survived from last year.    He now feels that he should just buy new lights every year, hang them,  discard them, and start fresh next December.  This plays right into the hands of the Chinese manufacturers of said lights which, ingeniously, are designed to break or burn out as quickly as possible.

We buy a wreath.  Yesterday I bought one from Hugh’s friend Alex who had brilliantly positioned himself at the parking lot of our church (where he is also a member).  As everyone left to head home, there was Alex, bundled up like a Norman Rockwell painting, arms outstretched, a green circlet on each wrist.  “Like to buy a wreath?” he asked, grinning impishly.  Who could resist?  Certainly none of the Presbyterians streaming to their cars, full of Christmas spirit.   And the sale benefits Alex’s Boy Scout troop.  We will not place the wreath on the front grill of the car, although that is a popular thing to do around here.

We bake cookies.  I will get out the metal cookie cutters from my Grandma Lorene and my mom.  The boys still enjoy choosing the shapes and tinting the frosting and sprinkling on the colored sugar.   There always has to be a guitar cookie saved especially for Uncle Ken.

We make salsa.  And by “we”, I mean Chris.  His salsa is always a big hit, with many recipients reporting that it is gone in one afternoon.

We force paperwhites.  And by “we”, I mean me.  I already have quite a forest of paperwhites shooting up out of an array of vintage pottery pitchers and glass apothecary jars (if you live nearby and would like one, just contact me).  Personally I don’t mind the weird sweet smell but I know this is a divisive issue.  You’re either a paperwhite person or you’re not.

We have lunch with our friends Kevin and Linda in the city every year,  and Linda and I have our own private shopping lunch day (don’t forget, it’s tomorrow, Lin!).

We attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, which ends with the church going dark.  As we sing Silent Night, candles are lit one by one, from person to person, until the church glows with hundreds of lights.  It’s beyond beautiful.

The month is still young.  Hanukkah is nearly over but the Christmas hubbub will continue for weeks.  I would love to hear about your December customs and traditions.
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