Family Traditions — A Collection of Short Stories
By: Melissa Harper | Date: December 6 2016
Making Up for the Past
By Shemaiah Gonzalez
“It’s my year to put the star on top of the tree!” My oldest squeals as we remove the silver star from its box from the basement. Each year, he and his brother take turns being hoisted up into the air by my husband, stretching to place it on top of the tree.
“Did you take turns each year with your sisters?” He asks curiously, as we gingerly unfold tissue paper revealing homemade toilet-paper-roll angel ornaments from years past.
How can I explain to him that most years of my childhood, we didn’t celebrate Christmas? That my parents, whom he’s never met, told us we didn’t have enough money to celebrate Christmas? Or when we did, began arguing as soon as we came out Christmas morning, leaving us with lunches of peppermint sticks from our stockings? Or that when they divorced, my mom married a man who said we were boycotting Christmas as a political statement, disregarding any sacred customs as well.
No, my sisters and I did not take turns.
So now I make up for all of that, in traditions that border on rituals. The day after Thanksgiving trip to the same Christmas tree lot as the previous seven years. The different colored wrapping paper for the stockings filled by Santa-than the presents given by me. To the nightly candlelit Advent readings, as we wait for that Holy Day.
There will be a day, too soon, when he will not need his daddy to raise him up to the top of the tree. Yet he’ll know that this season is holy, whether it’s abundant or scarce, as we create memories he will treasure in his heart forever.
Shemaiah Gonzalez is a freelance writer who thrives on moments where storytelling, art and faith collide. She is obsessed with being well rounded as she jumps from Victorian Lit to Kendrick Lamar from the Homeless Shelter to the Cocktail Party. A Los Angeles native, she now lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons. You can follow her at shemaiahgonzalez.com, Facebook, and Twitter.