Chickpastor’s Advent Calendar, Day 12

A Thing of Beauty. Until someone eats all the gumdrops off.

My sister-in-law is an amazing aunt to my children. Recently, she did something even more amazing…..she gave birth to my NIECE, who we totally adore with that kind of love that only a non-parental relative can have….you know, the fun, non-diaper changing, loud toy kind.

Before her daughter was born, though, she, apropos of nothing I can remember, wanted to come over before Christmas and make a gingerbread house with my then two-year-old.

I remember thinking, “why?” Why a gingerbread house? Why have one more thing added to this crazy season that, even if you are consciously trying to downsize, is busier than the other months of the year for clergy types?

But she came over and made a gingerbread house with my daughter. It was just Aunt and Niece time, no parents. We were welcomed to stay, but it wasn’t our thing…it was clearly a special thing for the two of them to do.

Every year since, my sister-in-law has come over to our house, including the one when she had a four month old, and made a gingerbread house with my daughter, and then included my son when he came along a year or so later, until now, they’re on their seventh year of gingerbread houses.

The houses aren’t perfect. They’re from Publix or Target or wherever had them on sale. The kids make crazy trails of glitter through the “yard” and pattern a million colors of gumdrops on the roof. Martha Stewart would be appalled. But year after year, my sister-in-law has determinedly made this a special time, a tradition with her niece and nephew, and it doesn’t matter what they look like (although they are very proud at the end! until the eating!); it’s in the process that the tradition happens.

It came home to me this year that something I saw as unexpected, or out of the blue, was because it was a tradition created out of nothing. And I have come to realize that we can do this anytime we want. I’ve learned that from my husband’s family, because he comes from a long line of “show-uppers.” No matter what happens, if you need them, if there’s something planned, THEY SHOW UP, and that’s half the battle right there.

You can do this, too. If you don’t like a certain tradition or you don’t feel like you have any, you can MAKE ONE out of nothing, just like my sister-in-law. Don’t wait for one to find you. Create it. Just do it. Show up, and keep showing up every year, until one year you look back at all the years and know that something, someone, was holding you together.

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