“on the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me nine ladies dancing…..”*

Today is the ninth day of Christmas. There are not a lot of ladies dancing at my house. We are getting ready for tomorrow. The real start of the New Year in our society’s culture is the day children return to school and the employed go back to work.  Most people do not even know that December 25 is the First Day of Christmas and the celebration continues until Twelfth Night, January 5. 

Festivals and celebrations have been evolving since the dawn of our human existence. Family traditions all begin somewhere. Sometimes they are carried on for specific reasons and sometimes are carried on just because they were always done that way.

When the children were young we lived in Illinois most of their elementary and middle school years. We alternated going back to Kansas for Christmas one year and Thanksgiving the next so they could have Christmas in our home half of the time.

Years later they still say things like “We always spent Christmas (or Thanksgiving) at Grandma’s.” Even though we alternated Christmas’ and Thanksgivings in Kansas at different grandparents who lived 90 miles apart. I have also heard them say, “We were always home for Christmas (or Thanksgiving).”

When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in the same town as we did. We always had Christmas morning at our own home and two Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, one at each set of grandparents.

When we grew up and started creating families of our own, my mom began the custom of alternating Christmas and Thanksgiving with her children’s in-laws.  As we started adding serious relationship contenders to the family group, she asked everyone to coordinate schedules so we could all be together at least once a year on the actual holiday. I admit to messing with her schedule by moving to Illinois. We adjusted and the years we were in Kansas for whichever holiday were spent in two different homes 90 miles apart.

As our children have grown and created families we have managed to alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving. Every year is better than ever as we continue to add new people and traditions to our gatherings of family and friends. This year was a good year, lots of telephone calls, packages exchanged by mail and new Christmas dinner menus.

Our oldest granddaughter will graduate from high school this year. I can see more adjustments to the annual holiday schedules on the horizon. As long as I have sausage balls for Christmas breakfast I am okay with any variations of the holiday.

Okay. Let’s get started on the New Year……..

*Twelve Days of Christmas

In medieval and Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. The Lord of Misrule tradition dates back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

In colonial America, a Christmas wreath was always left up on the front door of each home, and when taken down at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. any edible portions would be consumed with the other foods of the feast. The same held true in the 19th-20th centuries with fruits adorning Christmas trees. Fresh fruits were hard to come by, and were therefore considered fine and proper gifts and decorations for the tree, wreaths, and home. Again, the tree would be taken down on Twelfth Night, and such fruits, along with nuts and other local produce used, would then be consumed.

  
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©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved.

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Lily

Born in Topeka, Kansas in the middle of the 20th Century, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, reader, spiritual, writer, cook, crafter, junker...... twice-married, former non-profit executive in retread mode... currently living a bucket list life in a remodeled schoolhouse.....

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