Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Traditions (Tree Day)

Family traditions are rarely planned; they tend to sprout from various seeds and mature over the years.

For the Clan McAlpine, the beginning of December brings one of our favourite family gatherings: Tree Day.

Even calling it "Tree Day" just kinda happened. And in our family, it has become just as eagerly anticipated as Christmas Day.

The origins of Tree Day started about twenty years ago, in Victoria BC. It began one hot summer's day when I walked into our rented townhouse, and overheard the unmistakable melodies of Frosty the Snowman emanating from our television via our VCR.

In July.

That just seemed... wrong.

I remembered the thrill I had as a kid, waiting for the annual showings of Frosty, Rudolf, Snoopy, and Scrooge on television. It was part of what made the Christmas season special: the anticipation of once-in-a-year celebrations, music, and tv shows.

Now, with the advent (pardon the pun) of digital media, we no longer have to wait. We can watch Frosty in July if we feel like it.

Or... we could practice self-restraint.

Wendy & I talked it over, and starting that very year, we made a change to our routine: from then on, the Christmas videos and CD's were packed away with the Christmas tree ornaments. And the first day of December became the day that the kids would accompany me to pick out a Christmas tree, and the Christmas ornaments, music, and videos would be brought out again for the month of December.

Very quickly, the traditions surrounding Tree Day coalesced: the traditional soundtrack for tree decoration is always A Charlie Brown Christmas. Eggnog is purchased and consumed as the tree and living room gets decorated. Afterwards, we watch our traditional first video: The Muppets Christmas Carol. We know all the lines. We sing along to the songs. (We marvel when meek little Beaker uncharacteristically gives Scrooge the middle finger salute.)

Our children are all adults now; only one still lives at home. But the excitement and anticipation of Tree Day continues unabated. It is still one of our favourite family traditions.

And no-one has ever complained about not being able to watch Frosty in July.

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