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Every tradition is important


I don’t mind that the holiday season began months ago. Some decry the Christmas displays in various retail stores, starting as early as August or September. “It starts earlier every year!” some exclaim. Others repeat the new saw: “The holidays have become too commercialized.”

Yeah, well…bah humbug on those sentiments.The holidays come exactly as early as the public wants it to come. How many people do you know that proudly boast they have finished their Christmas shopping. In July, no less. They are just over-achievers.

I understand when people say they miss the traditional, old fashioned Christmases of their memory.  Each family has its cherished traditions that each member carries with them, like imprinted DNA. Religious traditions mix with familial traditions mix with culinary traditions. Each as valid and important as the next.

While my family had its traditions when all us kids were still at home, each of us has moved on and created our own versions of the season. Many of my cherished holiday memories revolve around friends who, like me, had no family living nearby. We created our own Christmas. The tree was decorated in a modern style—think Andy Warhol over Norman Rockwell. Our warm feelings (and gifts) for each other was no less traditional or meaningful than if we were with our own families.

We searched our favorite shops for the most unique Christmas cards we could find that said something about us. We festooned the mantle (if there was one) or table with the many cards that people still mailed back in those days of the late 1980s.

In the years when none of us was fat of wallet our creativity assured that Christmas would still come on Dec. 25. The simple gifts we gave each other were as lovely as anything one could buy at a department store. A photograph. A colored pencil drawing. A poem.  The best gift was the companionship we gave each other. Those holidays were definitely not too commercialized.

What was commercialized—and I loved it—were the window displays at the big stores. I would walk around outside the flagship Frederick and Nelson and Nordstrom in late November and stand in awe at what the visual marketers came up with: intricate tableaux telling a story. I was so taken I actually held the job of window dresser for a downtown store in my younger years.

Unfortunately in-store and window holiday displays are going the way of the posted letter. Those displays are not cheap and it was one area corporate leaders could cut expenses. To me it wasn’t the holidays until the department store windows were dressed for Christmas.

In our area stores are content to mark the holidays by throwing some fake snow on the floor and a wreath on the wall. It is a sad passage of time. But not everywhere.

To get my holiday window display fix I simply log onto Google and enter holiday window displays. When I hit return and my screen is filled with the wonders of creative minds from San Francisco to New York City to London and Paris and Milan. Department stores and boutiques in those cities, thankfully, still have a large budget and carte blanche to create amazing window displays for the holidays that set my heart aflutter.

Everyone has their holiday and Christmas traditions and routines. No tradition is too small nor is it meaningless. Whatever you think the reason for the season, what you hold in your heart is paramount.

Enjoy your holiday while I log on to see what Printemps in Paris has in its Christmas windows.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)