The holidays are a special time for many. For some larger families, it may be the one time of the year that everyone gets a chance to gather together to fellowship and catch up, reminisce and play games and have fun.
Other denominations and religions have their special times of reflection, worship and reverence, but for me, growing up Moravian, traditions ran deep. Winter holiday traditions included visits to the Brothers Home in Old Salem for Home Moravian Church’s Candle Tea, eating lots of sugar cake and Moravian cookies, the weekly lighting of the beeswax Advent candle on the wreath, attending and, for many, many years as soon as I was old enough, singing in the Christmas Eve Lovefeast … Santa was not allowed to come until after Christmas Eve Lovefeast had been observed.
Another church tradition was traveling around our neighborhood in Winston-Salem, and then around Summerfield and Oak Ridge, singing Christmas carols in front of people’s homes while the Moravian band played along. There also was a huge live nativity on Waughtown Street two blocks from my house where we went every year, and it included sheep and other animals.
Other holiday traditions included Thanksgiving lunch at my paternal grandparents’ house, where we had a long table taking up two rooms, lots of good food, and an afternoon playing outside in the cold with my cousins. Then we would go to my maternal grandparents’ house, and later my uncle’s house, for turkey leftover supper.
My parents, sister and I always spent a night making garbage (Chex mix with nuts, pretzels, and more, which we ate some ourselves and gifted out to others) while watching Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” animated with Boris Karloff and “A Christmas Carol” featuring George C. Scott. I think sometimes we would also throw in a viewing of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph.”
Then leading up to Christmas, there were trips around the neighborhood Christmas light looking, one time we even went to McAdenville and waited in lines of traffic. I think we went to Tanglewood a few times too, but that was not an annual event for us. We liked seeing the lights all our neighbors took the time to carefully present.
New Year’s Eve wasn’t something necessarily special at our house. My parents, especially my dad, was always asleep long before the clock struck midnight. I think it was around middle-school age that I started having a friend or two spend the night with me and we would watch the ball drop and spray a little silly string. It became a tradition of my own to stay up for the New Year, and my ultimate goal is to be in New York City for the celebration at some point in my life. The last couple of years, my small family, made up of my husband and my now 7-year-old son, have gone to watch the Mayberry sheriff’s badge raised at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
Through the years, traditions have been added and adjusted as my small family has begun doing some things on our own, just as I’m sure they do for other families. Tanglewood has almost become an annual trip, Christmas parties include one with the fire department and one with friends from a set of condominiums where my husband works, going to the Candle Tea is something I enjoy sharing with my husband and son now, and Christmas Eve still must include attending a Lovefeast although now it is done earlier in the day (instead of the night service and took some getting used to) and is followed by Christmas Eve dinner and presents with my parents and sister’s family.
Christmas night is lacking in sleep as Santa must arrive and beautifully display the presents for Little Man before he slips off with his reindeer to the next child’s home, and Christmas Day is a little less stressful because we don’t have to try to do our house, my parents’ house and my in-laws’ house in one day. It is just our house and my in-laws’ for sharing time together, exchanging gifts and eating.
Attending Christmas parades was something I did when I was very young, it was actually on Thanksgiving morning in Winston-Salem and my dad helped as he was a member of the Amateur Radio Association there who helped coordinate it. As I got older, we didn’t attend many parades, but now as an adult, I’m usually in the parade with the fire department. This year, as my son is a Cub Scout, we’ll be in the parade with his troop in Pilot Mountain.
Every family has their own way of honoring the holidays with varying traditions, whether that be through church or other activities like Christmas plays, or seeing “The Nutcracker” performed, or going to a choral performance, or taking time to visit with Santa to share a list of wishes and get a picture taken. How will your family enjoy this fall into winter time of lights and greenery?
Here at The Tribune, we started decorating early. Our tree is up, our wreath is hung. We have a couple more small details to finalize, but we are excited to share the holiday cheer with the community as they travel down Main Street. We can’t wait to see how other businesses will share their holiday cheer.
This year, The Tribune will be hosting a holiday decorating contest for area businesses. Details will be shared soon on how businesses can enter the competition, and how readers can cast their vote for the favorite. The winning business will receive a free quarter-page color ad in The Tribune, and voters will be entered for a chance to receive a prize as well.
I hope everyone enjoys their holidays with family and friends, and for those who may not have traditions, there are several holiday events schedules. Today’s edition of The Tribune includes articles on many of those. Welcome to the holiday season. May cheer come your way and fill your life.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.