Every family has their holiday traditions. Heck, even atheists have a tradition of alternately ignoring Christmas, or berating it. But it's still a tradition. In La Casa de Woody, however, we have rich family traditions. Some date back to when Woody and Mrs. Woody were young whippersnappers themselves and enjoying our own families' traditions. Others have evolved since Mrs. Woody and I got married, and a few more have begun since the Woodyettes made their appearances.
One thing that has remained a constant for us all along is music. Both of us grew up listening to sounds of the season, and both of us sang in various Christmas concerts (back when they were still called "Christmas" concerts!) throughout high school. Of all the sights, sounds, and aromas of the holiday season, nothing evokes the Christmas mood for me faster or better than its music.
(Caveat: Woody does not include every variety of Christmas music available in the world today in this statement. Woody is all too aware that some forms of "Christmas" music are, in fact, covered under the Patriot Act and should be immediately locked away in a vault in Gitmo. This includes virtually all forms of music used — abused, really — by every TV commercial known to modern man; with, as Mrs. Woody points out, the possible exception of the Hershey Kisses™ "Ringing Bells" commercial. Thank you.)
Mrs. Woody has already blogged about our community's annual "Messiah Sing-Along." Click on over if you'd like to see a photo of the family. (The good looking ones are the ladies.) This is a relatively recent tradition for our family. Daddy was asked to do the tenor solo in the first Sing-Along, and they keep asking me back. This year was a bit different in that we did two concerts to accommodate the growing crowds we've had in each successive year. With the additional concert, our director decided to have the male soloists do a different solo in each performance. In each case, however, the tenor leads off immediately following the overture. This is probably a good thing, because by the time we howl our way through the "Hallelujah" chorus, my voice is pretty much like a breakfast sausage. Rough and over-cooked. Thank goodness we had an hour plus between performances.
The whole experience, however, truly ushers in our holiday observances as a family. Even more than Thanksgiving, or Daddy's contribution to Tylenol's stock price after putting up the Christmas lights the day after, these Sing-Alongs begin our celebrations by participating in some of the most sublime of all Christmas music. Performed, as Mrs. Woody points out, in the very elegant East Room of the Nixon Library, the whole day just feels like Christmas. It's a wonderful way to get into the spirit of it all.
In some ways, our Christmas will be different this year. This is, sadly, our first Christmas without RoboMom. We miss her tremendously, and we likely will for years to come. In some ways, though, her passing allows us to try something we've talked about for a couple of years now. In our entire twelve year history together, we have never celebrated Christmas alone in our own home. We've always travelled to Mrs. Woody's sister's home (or had them come to our home... once), but we've never been able to wake up on Christmas morning with just our sweet daughters to have a family Christmas celebration. We might not have this year, except that the Woodyettes (the older one, particularly) have begun to ask about that. They have heard, I think, some of their church friends talk about having Christmas at home and are wondering what that would be like. So this is the year. We are focusing all our efforts on making our home a fun winter wonderland, replete with Mrs. Woody-led activities that will help the girls enjoy that spirit of anticipation leading up to the day. We will, of course, find time to visit family close to the holiday and have our "big" family Christmas, but each family is making plans to find their own special way of celebrating on the day itself.
Who knows what new traditions we may form this year? I know I'll enjoy finding that out!