When I sat down to write A Christmas Wedding, I had a lot of different things in my head that I wanted to get across to my readers. I wanted to create a super-strong female character who wasn’t afraid to take on the establishment—and win. I wanted to tell a story about horseracing and the world of thoroughbreds. And I wanted to tell a story of love—with all its ups and downs, a story that showed how difficult marriage can be sometimes, but also how worthwhile.
But as I was writing the book, something else worked its way into the pages, and it became not just the story of a relationship between a man and a woman, but the story of that woman’s—of Desiree’s—relationship with her father and husband and children and the very male-dominated world in which she lives. It became a story of old and new, of borrowed and blue. Of hanging on to old traditions and making new ones—something I think is particularly apropos to the holiday season beginning to unfold around us.
For Desiree, keeping old traditions and making new ones was often a matter of necessity—playing hardball in a man’s world often requires a blending of following the herd and blazing new trails. For me, unlike Desiree, keeping traditions—or making new ones—has been largely about choice.
One holiday tradition I love is baking a huge number of cookies with my mother—and my children—on the days leading up to Christmas. Of assembling trays and passing the cookies out to all my neighbors, who have come to depend on the tradition as much as we have. Two years ago we were late passing out the cookies, and when I finally made it around my neighbors all breathed a sigh of relief and told me they’d been afraid I had forgotten them that year.
I also love filling my house to the brim for the holidays—with friends and family and acquaintances who don’t have anyone else to celebrate with. It’s a tradition I learned from my mother, who learned it from her mother and nothing thrills me more than putting on a huge buffet at Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and feeding thirty or forty or more people. At the same time, I love that Christmas Eve is all about my immediate family—my husband and children and mother and I go to Mass and then out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate the holiday (and a meal that I don’t have to cook 😉
And one last tradition I can’t do without—one that I started a number of years ago and hope to pass on to my children. The tradition of service, of giving to those who don’t have the family and friends and support system that I have. At least once every couple of months—not just during the holidays but throughout the year—I make a point of taking a bunch of food to my county’s food closet and of volunteering to cook at one of the many soup kitchens in town. So far, it is only my oldest son who comes with me, as the others are too young, but as they grow I hope to make it a family affair—one that helps my children understand that not all kids have Wiis and Nintendo DS’s and that not having Playstation 3 because their Playstation 2 works just fine does not make them underprivileged.
So, what traditions do you observe every year? Have they been passed down from your parents and grandparents or have you started them as you became an adult?