When my son was very small, we were at a catalogue order place and he spotted a Santa Nutcracker. We didn't have a lot of money, and he never asked for things when we went shopping in stores, so I was quite surprised when he kept referring back to the Santa as we moved through the warehouse.
It was kind of cute, for a nutcracker - it was also pretty expensive - but still he couldn't seem to get it out his head, so I went back alone the next day, and picked it up to give to him as one of his Christmas gifts that year.
I'll never forget how happy he was that Christmas morning to open the parcel and find the Santa Nutcracker. He carried it around that whole Christmas season - and a new Christmas tradition was born.
From that year on, Santa brought a new Nutcracker every year for Jonathan. Every year he labeled the new addition with the date and who had given it to him, until a couple of years ago when he decided that perhaps Santa didn't have to bring him any more - he had plenty!
It became customary to see Jon's Nutcracker collection sitting on the mantle every Christmas over the years - until this year.
This year I was watching a Christmas decorating program on TLC or one of the other networks and they were showing the most beautiful mantle decorations. I decided right then and there that this year my mantle would look different than it had for many years.
When it came time to start decorating our home, I only took out the three tallest Nutcrackers, and left the others packed away in their huge tote. Jon hadn't really shown any interest in my Christmas decorating for a couple of years, so I did not think my scheme through any further.
Jon was out the evening I decorated, so it wasn't until the next morning that he realized that only 3 of his Nutcrackers were out. I was the most surprised Mom to find that he was really upset by my decision not to display the entire collection. He made a big noise about "Tradition" and how much he looked forward to seeing the collection every year.
I was shocked, and embarrassed that I had not realized how much my son had cherished this one little tradition. I guess we assume that when our children are grown adults, things like Nutcrackers no longer matter all that much. WRONG!
Traditions do matter - Jon reminded me of that this year. Why I needed to be reminded of that, I have no idea. After all I still want to put the same old angel on our tree every year, for just this reason. There are more beautiful angels and stars I could purchase for our tree, but I stubbornly hold tight to my old one because - She is Tradition! She was on our tree when I was a child, so she goes on my tree as an adult.
The happy ending to this tale is - Mom did finally "Get" it - and Jon dug out the tote and once again decorated the top of our mantle with his Nutcracker collection.
And somehow - it feels so right!