I've been thinking about family Christmas traditions. They were never thought of as traditions. They were just things that were done every Christmas without even thinking about them. I guess the longest lasting tradition was the Christmas stocking. Vickie and I always knew that there would be a coconut, big red apple, big orange, mixed nuts still in the shell and ribbon candy in the stockings hanging from the mantle. There might have been little toys in them too, but those big items never changed. Maybe they were there because they were never around during the rest of the year. They were special to the season. Trimming the Christmas tree was a tradition. Each person had a certain thing to do. Mom put the lights on. Sara and Mom put the ornaments on. Vickie and I put our little school-made ornaments on. All of us put the icicles on. There were two ways to put on icicles...the right way,,as Mom and Sara did,,one by one on each branch of the tree,,,and the fun way as Vickie and I did,,throwing bunches toward the tree. Dad would sit and watch us, then put the star on the top. Each had a part in setting up the nativity scene. Mom and Sara did most of the work, but Vickie and I would set up the baby Jesus. One would put the manger in the stable and the other would put the baby in the manger. We'd switch each year and remember who did what the year before. Making the cookies was a tradition. The grownups with their whiskey was a tradition of Christmas. The little smirks as they spiked their Cokes, 7-Up, and eggnog. Mom and her spiked eggnog as she made Christmas dinner. The kids' table and grownup table. All great childhood memories. Mom started a tradition as we got older. Whenever a child moved away from home, Mom would give them an ornament from the family tree. She said to put it on our tree. That way the family would be together even when we were far apart. I started a tradition after my dad died. I would take my vacation the week after Thanksgiving. Most of my jobs wouldn't allow a Christmas vacation. So, I'd come home and decorate the house. Put up the outside lights. Set up the tree and help her decorate it and the rest of the inside of the house. That way, I'd know it was done and she'd have time to enjoy it. Think about your Christmas traditions and savor them. They are what makes Christmas so special.