Last week we told you that André and Sue had finally decorated the house and set up the tree. We also told you that Sue was going to bake one kind of Christmas cookies - her all-time favorites. You see, when Sue grew up the home-baked cookies were a real treat at her home. The family had to watch their pennies and so they didn't have candy that often. But before Christmas Sue's mom would bake for days and Sue remembers how great the house would smell and how the kids would all be so excited to get the first of the cookies as well as the first oranges of the season on December 6th every year. Why December 6th? It's the day when St. Nikolaus came around to visit and check if the kids had been good throughout the year. Like Christmas here but in Europe St. Nick has his own day and on Christmas it is the Christkind coming. Anyway, St. Nick would bring the first nuts, oranges, mandarins, gingerbread and home-baked cookies.
Sue's mom would bake big batches of up to twenty different kinds and then, together with the kids, make beautiful plates which they would place all over the house. Of course there was so much that the plates could be refilled several times over. What a treat that was! As many cookies as the heart desired.
It's interesting to hear these memories every year and it made us realize that for André and Sue Christmas is not about presents at all. It is about the real meaning of the holiday and traditions. Seems that every family has their own traditions and that they are what will stick with people when they grow up. I mean who remembers what they got at age 4 or 7 or 12? But who could forget the holiday spirit, the traditional meal, having grand-aunt Ida over or how dad would go into the living room, closing the door behind him and then ring the little bell on the tree to let the family know, that the candles on the tree were lit and that they could come in now? You see, in Europe it is as much custom to have a real tree with real candles on it as it is to celebrate on Christmas eve rather than Christmas day. With Sue's family that didn't always work out as Sue's dad was a train engineer and often had to work December 24th or 25th or both days. So the family would adjust to dad's working schedule. The kids grew up knowing that there are people out there working while others are enjoying family time on holidays such as Christmas or Easter. They thought nothing of not having dad around on their birthday - they would just celebrate the day before or after. But when dad was there, they would enjoy it even more.
So here is to the true meaning of Christmas and to traditions. And also, here is to all the good people out there who are working on holidays for the good of others and to the ones who drop everything (such as volunteer emergency personnel), leaving their families in the middle of a holiday to go help where help is needed. Thank you very much!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
hunter and trapper