I was thinking about holiday traditions the other day. One of my favourite and most vivid memories of Christmas at my Dad’s house, besides spending hours detangling hundreds of feet of tangled dried cranberries and stale popcorn, was getting out the modeling clay and making our very own Christmas village. We made tiny little houses, miniature sleds, snowmen, trees and teeny tiny little people. We even made the ghost of Christmas past lurking behind a tree or a house.
We arranged our village on an antique sideboard that lived in our dining room. We placed all the little houses on thinned out cotton balls, which were a staple in every household in the 70’s & 80’s, and in this case they were supposed to represent freshly fallen snow. I would take little bits of cotton and drape them over the rooftops and lightly dust all of the trees.
Each year our village got a little bit bigger. There were a few more trees and few more snowmen and maybe even one or two more houses. If we were feeling particularly inspired we would even paint them so that our village was a bit more lively then just clay grey.
I loved that village. I think I loved it more than the presents. I would get so excited to unpack it from the old shoebox we kept it in, imagining all the life that was really happening in there. All the little people were busy in their little houses getting ready for Christmas. I would arrange everything so that it was just perfect. Each year a bit different from the last.
When I was older and was starting traditions with my own family, I asked my Dad if he would mail our village to me from Ontario. He wasn’t doing much for Christmas anymore and I wanted to share the tradition with my son. He meticulously packed up and mailed that old shoebox, shredded cotton balls and all.
I’m sure I had some good years with my Christmas village after that, but for some reason the memories of that time are hazy. What I do remember is in the midst of a very difficult separation, with my family in shambles, I threw the whole thing out. I remember asking my son, who was 14 at the time if he thought we should keep it. He said we would probably never have a family Christmas again so he thought I should just get rid of it. So I did.
Now my son & his family have their own Christmas village sitting on their mantle. But it’s not our Christmas village. It’s a plastic replica reminding me of my childhood, but also of my short sightedness. No stretched out 70’s cotton balls, no weirdly sculpted snowmen, no meticulously painted little trees.
Every time I see it in all its plastic glittery glory, I think of how much I wish that I had some common-sense back then and maybe just a little bit of foresight. In the depths of that break up, I thought life was over and there would be no reason to ever celebrate Christmas again. I just wasn’t able to think ahead and imagine that I would fall in love again or that my son would grow up and have babies of his own and want to start his own family traditions.
I do wish I hadn’t thrown it out that day. I suppose I do find comfort in the fact that my son has his own Christmas village, even if it’s not the one we both grew up with. Maybe in his own way, he is carrying on our traditions after all. And I do feel grateful that I am here to be a part of it.
Oddly enough, essential oils have not been a part of my Christmas family traditions. Probably because I am so busy working with oils all day in my busiest season of the year, that by the time evening rolls around, I’m all “oiled out”.
But, if YOU are looking to start or continue some aromatic traditions in your own family, here is a nice diffuser recipe for the holidays:
Here’s to family traditions, new or continued, and learning to have some foresight in the face of heartbreak!
Yours in love & aromatics