When my friend and fellow blog-mate lost her home to Hurricane Harvey, we were happy to pass along a few Rubbermaid tubs that we were no longer using. We gave them without regard to the labels – which lead to some speculation about why we would have a container labeled “Christmas Guns”. The answer to that got me thinking about traditions, how they start, why they continue.

In our family, several traditions started because of repetition, not necessarily because they were intended to become a tradition. For instance, there is one tradition I’m ending this year. When my sons first moved out they lived on shoe-string budgets. The first Christmas they were out on their own, they both needed socks and underwear, so I bought socks and underwear. Almost twenty years later, they are both married with kids of their own and I’m still buying socks and underwear. This year – NO! I’m not buying their socks and underwear anymore.

The newest tradition in our family is Christmas breakfast of omelets and mimosas. Since hubby makes the omelets, I’m more than thrilled to continue this tradition!

But our oldest tradition – Christmas Guns – goes back to when our boys were probably two and six years old. Santa brought them both a Nerf gun. Which they loved and played with all morning, while my husband and I were left defenseless as the boys raced around the house in battle. So, the next year, Santa left all four of us Nerf guns. And the battle raged, whoops and squeals ensued, alliances made and broken — take no prisoners!

As extended family joined us for the day, aunts, uncles and cousins joined the battles and more fun followed. Over the years, some of the guns started being held over for the next year – and soon we had assembled a huge arsenal, so that everyone who joins us on Christmas Day has access to a gun – which is necessary for self-defense. It isn’t unusual to open a drawer or closet in my house, say sometime in August, and discover an overlooked Nerf dart – those things multiply like rabbits around here.

One of my favorite memories is from a year when my niece, an only child, joined us. She’d never had a gun – come on, she’s a girl. No one ever gave that sweet girl her own gun – until we did. And she loved it!

And then there is the first Christmas both boys invited their girlfriends (soon to become wives) to join us. Santa brought all six of us Nerf guns. The girls were maybe a bit underwhelmed by the guns and proceed to very daintily go through their stockings, exclaiming, oohing and awing over their gifts.

Meanwhile, the four of us are maniacally ripping into packaging and racing to load our guns and claim battle stations.

The girls observed and worried that the boys were about to get in trouble by shooting guns in the house. And then realized, oh crap, the parents are doing it, too! For the next hour we raced around the house like maniacs as the battle raged. And just because their guns weren’t unwrapped, much less loaded for defense – the girls were not off limits and instead, forced to join in or be annihilated.

In retrospect, perhaps someone should have warned them that we are a bit crazy. On the other hand, they got to experience The Richisons; unaltered, unrestrained. AND they still married into the family, so I guess we passed the audition.

Now, the grandsons have joined the fun and the battles continue. It’s my favorite Christmas Tradition, even though it certainly never started out to be a tradition — just a couple of Nerf guns left by Santa.

Does your family have holiday traditions? Do you remember how and when they started?

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!

4 thoughts on “Traditions

  1. My Christmas tradition, passed on from both of my Grandmothers, was to buy my boys a new ornament every year so that when they finally moved out, they’d have a “starter set” for their first tree. This year, my A Baby and his girlfriend went out and bought a tree and all the trimmings. When I asked him if he had room for his box of ornaments, he said he thought those were for me to keep so I’d have something to remember him by after he had moved out!! For 20 Christmases, I’ve searched out unique, boy-appropriate ornaments and struggled to find some obscure place to tag them with the boys’ initials, and now this one tells me he hasn’t even been aware of the significance! No doubt about it. This year, he gets coals.

  2. Maybe he isn’t ready for the responsibility of ‘owning’ his lifetime accumulation of ornaments. It could be a few years before he actually recognizes the importance of that piece of history – like, when he has his own little person to pass them on to. BUT, how exciting – his first Christmas Tree in his own home. And, maybe Mommy does need to keep them on her tree for a few more years …

  3. When my kids were little, we’d go up to Luby’s on Christmas day – the only day of the year that Luby’s was closed. My husband, the manager, would invite a few key employees and he would whip us all up a big scrambled egg breakfast. While he was cooking, the kids would run wild in the dining room (one year skating through the joint on their new roller blades). Everyone missed that when he left the company, and somehow a big Christmas morning breakfast at home just wasn’t the same.

    1. How could home ever compete – no giant empty dining room to roller blade through. Now you have a new generation to start a new set of traditions for … Little Charlie will be so much fun this year for Christmas!

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