Today I'd like to welcome the fabulous Linda Andrews !
What signals the start of the Christmas Season for you?
I'm not talking about the store displays that go up before Halloween. Or even the piped in holiday Muzac that oozes through speakers. I'm talking about the tradition that has somehow managed to survive from your parents' house to yours.
For me, it is bringing out the spinning Nativity. Somewhere in the midst of my dad making his cracker stuffing and filling the house with the scent of sautéed onions and celery and augmenting it with sage, my mom would go to their closet, lift down the spinning nativity, and set it in a place of honor at the dining room table. It always smelled of sandalwood, cinnamon and pine.
No doubt from the red candles.
There were scorch marks on the blades from the flames, but I loved to watch the heat make it spin. Of course, it was only lit during Christmas breakfast because it was made of wood (even the candle holders) and, uh, wood likes to burn.
Not that I needed candles to make it spin.I had hands. And as a child, I'd always take time from preparing whatever was my job for the meal and spin the thing so fast the blades went flying. Remember that scene from Christmas Vacation when Eddie does the same thing while Clark Griswold is serving him a cup of eggnog? That was me, sans the delicious nog. Every year. Until I was twenty and then got married. My mother would sigh, then tell me to put the blades back in. Which was part of the fun:-)
Moving into my own house, I had to visit my parent's house to get my spinning nativity fix. Then during my second Christmas, my parents moved from the Valley of the Sun to the City by the Bay. Christmas just wasn't the same and I couldn't find the blessed spinning nativity anywhere (Scrooge had recalled them for being a fire hazard).
My husband tried to compensate by buying me a carousel from Avon that played Christmas carols. Okay, it moved but alas it just wasn't the same. By our fourth year, he'd hit up the ceramic houses and pewter figurines by Department 56. The pewter figurines were so my children didn't smash and break them, too badly. Each year, I was treated to different things until my collection expanded to Halloween and Spring, eventually inspiring my books The Christmas Village and Some Enchanted Autumn.
To my children, the swapping of figurines and buildings signals the changing seasons. I spend the day cleaning then set the scenes the way I want, then my children come along and rearrange them. It's not hard to tell who was at work. My oldest moves the people into porches and corrals the animals. My youngest clumps everyone together in one giant group. My son builds Lego monsters that clutch people and topple buildings and figurines. I think messing with mom's stuff is genetic.
Over the years, I grew content with what I had until one year I went to Goodwill and low and behold there in the beam of a rainbow and a sprinkle of glitter a spinning nativity. My heart stopped. It didn't actually spin as the metal rod was bent and pieces were missing--fan blades and candle holders, but otherwise it was intact.
And it was beautiful. My husband picked it up. "We can fix it." And we did.
Every year at Thanksgiving, I set it on the dining room table.
And the cats come and swat at the blades sending them crashing about.
And I go to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner (they've returned to the Valley) and spin the nativity until the blades fly off.
And my mother sighs.
Don't you love family traditions?
I'd like to thank Linda for sharing with us today and I hope our visitors will take time to comment and maybe tell us about their own family's favorite tradition.
You can learn more about Linda Andrews and her other books at http://www.lindaandrews.net/