The special magic in traditions

Shelley Cameron Hyland's

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There is no denying that the holiday season is filled with pure magic, and viewing that through the eyes of our children has a special magic in and of itself. While the hustle and bustle of November and December traditions is constant, it’s important we pause, breathe, and find the space in our lives to fulfill special traditions with our families, whether they’re passed down from generation to generation, or something new we started with our own immediate family.

As a lifestyle and food blogger now, it’s funny to me that I went almost 30 years saying, “I AM NOT A BAKER – MY SISTER IS” and while I still feel she is the queen of the oven and I’m the queen of the stove, once I had my son, I realized 1. The word “can’t” goes out the window with little eyes watching and little ears listening 2. Moms can do anything 3. Christmas in our house means I have to be a baker whether I like it or not.

So, I am a baker, now, and every time I step foot in the kitchen I think of my sister and my mom. We always lived across the country from my grandma growing up, so while I don’t have nostalgic memories helping in the kitchen as a little girl with elders in my extended family, I do have those memories with my mom. Every year, my sister and I looked forward to frosting sugar cookies – she would go all out. ALL the sprinkles. ALL the frosting colors. ALL the cookie cutter shapes. We would bake them, frost them, and then bring them to our neighbors in tin baskets tied with festive bows.

My son just turned 5 this past summer, so this is the second Christmas he’s really been into traditions and helping around the kitchen. This age is by far my favorite – his eyes sparkle when we talk about Santa, there’s pure joy in his eyes when he hears “elf bells,” and there’s a light to him with every Christmas story we read, every “crazy house” we see decked with lights, and every bowl he helps stir to spread Christmas cheer.

I look back at my own mom and think she is literal Super Woman – it’s hard to fathom that while working full-time as a nurse, she also raised two daughters, two years apart, baked 15 different kinds of cookies and passed them out to the entire neighborhood, practically, cooked and hosted Christmas Eve, was Santa, Mrs. Claus, AND an elf, and also cooked Christmas dinner – all with a smile on her face, love in her heart, and she is the most selfless human I know. I think of all the joy she brought to our everyday normal life, and how THAT is what was so magical – being together as a family, laying low around the holidays. Because we created memories, and that’s what is passed down generations and cherished more than any gift found under the tree.

Our main Christmas traditions are baking those nostalgic sugar cookies, and also playing the “pickle game.” It’s German tradition to hide a pickle-shaped ornament, and whoever finds it on Christmas day gets a special gift hidden under the tree skirt. It was always a fierce competition between my sister and I, and now my son is obsessed, and it couldn’t fill my heart more; my sister lives in Jackson Hole, and we recently moved back to Northern California after living across the country and in Southern California the last 10 years.

Just as Dorothy always said, there is no place like home, and she is right – while raising my son, I have found that there truly is no place like home; his bond with my mom, especially, is something I absolutely cherish. They are BFFs, thick as thieves, and basically, obsessed with each other – they are each other’s biggest fans, and watching my mom instill morals, values, and traditions to my little family (which is just my son and I) has been nothing short of amazing, and I am so grateful.

So, whether we are around the stove, around the Christmas tree, or just around one another, Christmas traditions may be small in our house, but they are something I cherish, love, and am thrilled to see in our modern day family. Watching my son gain pride, joy, and memories from my mom and I has been so fulfilling as a single mama. There may be a special magic of Christmas, but there’s also a special magic in traditions, motherhood, and family, most of all – and you can’t wrap that in a bow.

About the Author

Shelley Cameron

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