Saturday, December 7, 2013

Today I Celebrate Tradition

Today I'm joining Ruth Ayres in celebration.  Stop by Ruth Ayres Writes for links to other celebrations.  Thanks, Ruth.

Yesterday the snow fell outside as I sat on the couch near our french doors and watched it gently float to the ground.  It wasn't long before the green beyond our doors had turned to a beautiful bright white.  There was something about the snow nestled in the branches of the evergreens.  There was something about its gentle descent from the sky.  There was something about this change that finally motivated me head to my basement to grab the plastic tubs filled with holiday decorations.

Each year I begin in the same way, pulling out the ceramic nativity scene painted by my great grandmother.  Each piece, carefully wrapped in tissue and newspaper, is unwrapped to be placed upon our mantle.  As I pull the pieces out one by one I always hold my breath a bit hoping they have not been broken while in storage.  Pulling out the pieces of the nativity scene I'm always reminded of the story that is the reason we celebrate each year, but I'm also reminded of the story of two women I loved so much.

Each year as I open the box I think of my grandma.   As I open the box I'm always reminded of seeing the nativity scene at her house when my brothers and I would go to help her decorate her tree.  It was always already arranged atop her entertainment center.  As soon as I'd walk into my grandma's house, I'd notice it.  Sitting on the large wooden shelf would be the painted pieces that tell the story of the birth of Jesus.  It always took my breath away.  Even as a child I would stand there for some time taking note of the details in each piece.

Years passed and I arrived at my grandma's house one evening before Christmas.  Grandma brought up the box with nativity scene upstairs and handed it to me.  I was speechless, I couldn't believe she wanted me to have this family treasure.  She said she really didn't want to keep getting it out each year and she was sure it would look beautiful displayed at my house.  Perhaps she knew I'd open it each year and think of her.

Each year as I put the pieces so carefully painted on my mantle I'm also reminded of my great grandma.    As kids we would hang out at her house near the lake a few times during the year.  She had her own kiln and many different paints.  She'd painted small books with the wedding dates of our family, a small collection of dolls for me, and a variety of vases to share.  Sometimes she'd sit us down in her back room to paint ceramics with her.  When we'd go to her house we'd paint hot plates with a special paint containing small beads that would explode with color as they were being fired.  As I place each piece on the mantle I always smile to myself at the thoughtfulness in the detail of each piece.

This year as I arrange the nativity upon my shelf, like my grandmother and great grandmother before me, I am thankful for the stories.  Within the routines of our traditions rest the stories we hope will be treasured for years to come.  Tradition not only takes us back, but it carries us forward.  Today I celebrate tradition.


  1. Such a special tradition! And such special memories! What an incredible honor that your grandma gave this family treasure to you…

  2. What a beautiful story. I love the line, "Tradition not only takes us back, but it carries us forward." How true is that!

  3. I love all your words, Cathy. I have certain things I treasure as I 'unpack' the holidays, and so enjoyed hearing about your memories. My grandparents were important in my life as I hear that yours were too. Thank you for telling your story!

  4. Bits and pieces we collect from our family become treasured heirlooms. A snow day was a perfect time to bring out the nativity scene so you could savor the memories tied to the pieces.

  5. How nice that you have such a wonderful keepsake to get out each year. What a beautiful tradition and a beautiful way to remember these two special women.

  6. Cath,
    I love that you have the manger scene and cherish the specialness of setting it up. I also remember my grandma decorating and putting the manger scene in the big bay window along with the bubble lights against the window. Thanks for sharing this memory.

  7. "Tradition not only takes us back, but it carries us forward." Thanks for sharing your beautiful remembrances of these special women with us today.

  8. Cathy, I smiled as I read your post (and made me think of my own grandma). :) What a beautiful tradition and how wonderful that you have so many stories that go with your traditions. Enjoy, my friend! Have a great week.

  9. I like to click on past entries and what a treasure I found today.
    I loved reading about your grandmothers. Made me teary.
    What a powerful line..."Tradition not only takes us back, but it carries us forward."


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