Tradition, according to one definition in Webster’s dictionary, is a time-honored practice or set of such practices.  For most people, no matter what their holiday-of-choice, this time of year is loaded with tradition.   Each holiday has its own customs or observances and within those, families have their own unique traditions.

My family, for instance, celebrates Christmas in all the customary ways; trimming the tree, sending Christmas cards, singing Christmas carols, a family gathering, etc. More or less, we do the same thing every year but this year, we incorporated one of the other definitions Webster gives for tradition; a mode of thought or behavior passed from one generation to another.

That’s right, some of the older members of the family, myself included, decided the time had come to pass off some of the work traditions to the younger members of the family.  We can’t take all the credit though, Christy’s daughter, Meghann, and her husband, Roberto, offered to host the family Christmas dinner before we could get up the nerve to demand that it was time for them ask them to do it.

And let me tell you, they did us proud–even if they didn’t do things exactly the way we’ve always done them.  It was, shall we say, a not-so-traditonal Christmas celebration.

Why not-so-traditional?  It wasn’t the food, we had all the usual scrumptious dishes, nor was it the company, which included all the usual suspects in our family.  The not-so-traditional part came with the exchanging of gifts. Meghann and Roberto put their own little spin on that part. Instead of everyone buying a gift for everyone else and having someone play Santa to distribute those gifts, they brought in a Dirty Santa.

PhotobucketA Dirty Santa?  Yep, we played a game called Dirty Santa where every person brings only one gift.  Everyone draws a number out of a hat, and then starting with number one, they choose one of the gifts.  The second person can either choose a gift from under the tree, or if they like the gift the first person got, they can steal it.  Each person gets their turn and each person has the option of choosing a new gift or stealing one from someone who’s gone before them. And so it goes, on down the line, until everyone has a gift.  At the end of the game, the person who went first gets a little added bonus; after all the gifts are opened, lucky number one can steal any gift they want…as long as it hasn’t already been stolen three times. When a gift has been stolen three times, it’s frozen and no one can steal it again, not even the first person.

Jose Bergamin, a Spanish writer, said, “Tradition simply means that we need to end what began well and continue what is worth continuing.”  I agree with that but I think he forgot to mention that sometimes traditions need a little freshening up.  A new twist here, a different angle there, and a tradition that has the potential of becoming ho-hum and blah suddenly takes on new life, becoming fresh and exciting again.

This year, that’s exactly what Meghann and Roberto did with our family Christmas tradition, making it shine brighter than ever and giving all of us a wicked good time–oops, sorry, it’s snowing outside and I temporarily slipped back into my Maine mindset. Anyway, I think my lovely niece and her handsome husband deserve their own Dames’ Kiss of Approval for giving our family a new slant on an old tradition!

Whatever your holiday-of-choice and however you celebrate, I hope your holiday season is filled with peace, love and joy!