Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Christmas Tradition

I grew up in a family that didn't put a lot of emphasis on passing down traditions. We were an Air Force family that moved all the time, and my theory is that maybe we never felt grounded enough in one place to plant roots or impart traditions.

So when I had children of my own, I had to start from scratch. Sure, we decorate the tree and drive around and look at lights on Christmas Eve, and we used to leave cookies for Santa when my daughters believed in him. But most every family does these things, so I wouldn't really call them "special" traditions.

Then about five years ago, I stumbled onto something. I went to a crafts class just for fun, and we learned how to make homemade Christmas ornaments using clear glass bulbs and acrylic paint. The first one I ever made was GORGEOUS! Trust me, I am NOT an artist or a crafty person. The only things I can draw are a bath and a paycheck! But this I could do! And if I could do it, I knew my then-young daughters could, too.

We've been making these Christmas ornaments every year since. (I made the one in the photo for my oldest sister this year . . . ssshhh! Lori, I hope you're not reading this!) They make an inexpensive and priceless gift, all at once.
The best part is . . . my teen actually forgets about text-messaging while she's bulb-making.

We start right after Thanksgiving because it takes about three weeks for the paint to dry. The fun part is swirling and mixing different colors of paint until you get the design and look that you're after. When the bulbs are dry, you top them off with ribbons -- and that's where a lot of creativity comes into play. We try to find mucho ribbon colors, patterns and textures, so really, no two bulbs are ever alike.

My daughters wrap up their bulbs in decorative bags and give them away to friends and teachers the week before Christmas break -- this week! -- along with a loaf of homemade Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I gift my creations to co-workers, neighbors, family, my doctor and the mailman. Sure beats a $5 McDonald's gift certificate!

And that, my friends, is our special family tradition. One that I hope my daughters will pass along to their families one day. One day in the VERY distant future. First, college and getting your careers off the ground, right, girls?

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