Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Some holiday customs aren't made to last

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Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

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–Washington Irving

I have a request. Would you mind sharing any of your favorite holiday traditions?

Is there anything you or your family do that you think is unique – or better yet, humorous?

Send them to my e-mail address. Maybe we can put them all together before Christmas Eve and help inspire others.

I’m asking because my own Christmas traditions seem to lack staying power. Maybe it’s because I’ve labored for newspapers most of my life and learned early that every holiday is a work day, and often my name was on a schedule beneath that big, red “25”.

But that was OK with me because growing up, we really never had any family Christmas customs that persevered.

I would like to say we all gathered around and read a chapter from the Gospel of Luke or maybe Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but we didn’t.

One year, my sisters and I tried our hand at making then attacking a holiday pinata (an adventure recalled in this month’s Augusta magazine), only to be forbidden from ever trying it again.

Some people have told me they watch movies like It’s A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, and I tell them that’s nice. My favorite Christmas film is the first Die Hard movie where Bruce Willis takes on the terrorists at the office Christmas party, but it doesn’t make a lot of holiday lists.

If anything, the biggest question to be addressed at my house each December involved when to open the gifts. My siblings and I would begin begging to open “just one” brightly colored present, and if granted this concession (never a sure thing), we would wheedle and whine to open “just one more,” and so on.

One Christmas Eve when I was about 10, we hit the jackpot. I think my parents got distracted and the four of us kids just started ripping wrapping paper so fast and furious, we soon had everything revealed.

I would like to say that there were often some favorite Christmas decorations or ornaments that were carefully unwrapped each season then displayed with either pride or affection, but between me and my younger brother – a lot of stuff was broken.

Most of our best family customs, it seems, centered around food. One grandmother favored baking jam cakes that were always worth the weight.

Another grandmother made pies without peer. Even late in life when her alertness had dimmed and her hands seemed unsteady, she could wander into a kitchen – any kitchen – and emerge some hours later with a confection perfection of crust, taste and texture that no one could match.

I agree that’s not much of a Christmas tradition, but it’s still a pretty good memory.

I hope you might help me remember a few of your own.


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