Wednesday, December 21, 2011

traditions i hold dear

growing up, the banks closed at 5 pm on friday and didn't reopen until monday. i remember running to the bank with my sisters and mother to get money to last us the weekend. businesses often closed on sundays. by the time i was in my twenties, everything was open all the time. i moved to france and returned to a tradition of a quiet sunday where all the storefronts shut down. this seemed lonely to me at first, i like hustle and bustle more than i care to admit. in time, i created my own rituals around this day that gave me a chance to relax into it's rhythm. the things i love the most about the holidays remind me of the time before we had access to everything twenty-four/seven. they are the moments when we return to our families and friends and step out of daily life.

i also really love the traditions that the holidays bring. caroling, drinking egg nog, trimming the tree, gathering with friends. christmas is in four days!! i want to stay up every single minute and fill it with cookie making, egg nog drinking, christmas music and lots and lots of time with my family.

there are two holiday traditions that we have involving presents that i would love to share.

the first, we have always, since time immemorial opened a new set of christmas pajamas on new year's eve. it's so fun to sit by the fire listening to music and open this one little gift. it takes me right back to my childhood. i hope elodie loves this tradition as much as i do.

the second was introduced by my older sister andrea many years ago. for our immediate family we give
something you want,
something you need,
one little something,
and something to read!

i think because she has such a large family (five children) this is a great way to keep order in the house and also make sure the list doesn't get too out of control. but really, what more do you need than this? is this even too much? this is really my first holiday not working on a retail project and the run up to christmas this year seems absurd. my inbox fills up with offers, the latest from the gap says, "joy alert! save 25% off sale" and i can't help but picture someone with a gleeful expression submitting their order. joy alert? is that really compelling to people? all the books i've been reading this year just taken the wind out of buying and getting and consuming. sure i love to give and receive but how much do we need? my natural instinct in life is one of an editor. keep pairing away the frivolous and unnecessary and you are left with something pure. this is true in fashion (jackie o anyone?), this is true in writing, this is true in meditation, i'd say it's pretty much always true.

i'm wishing a peaceful run up to the big day (and hannukah!) to everyone. focus on the things that matter and let everything else fall away.


  1. I love these. I had the same PJ tradition that I'm definitely carrying on. We are trying figure out what our traditions are as a new family and I love hearing what others do :)

  2. what a beautiful post! i'm so happy to have read this today cause dealing with San Francisco's holiday traffic and crowds has gotten me down lately... not to mention the "joy alert" emails! :) but you reminded me of what i really love this time of year... let the pj's and advent calendars and christmas music begin!

  3. I read a quote similar to that recently and if really stuck with me... I was so worried about what to get my boyfriend and then suddenly it was all so simple: something go he wants, something he needs, something to wear and something to read! Merry Christmas to you and your lovely little family :) x

  4. Such a beautiful post and timely salve to the chaos that comes with 'christmas'. I have been pondering on traditions, rituals, what it means and what we want it to mean for us. I have been asking friends and family about this and feel like you've just become part of that conversation, thank you for sharing!

  5. I really appreciate the sentiment in this post. Thank you for sharing and happy holidays!

  6. i love that last sentence the most. merry, merry christmas elizabeth.