Holiday Traditions Make for Joyous Memories

Written by: Denise Doring VanBuren, President General
December 24, 2019

It is, indeed, the most wonderful time of year. With a grateful heart for all that you do for DAR, I wish you joy and peace as you gather with family and friends to celebrate the holiday season, warmed by memories and aglow with hope for a new year with limitless potential.  

As I reflect on the traditions of this festive time of year, I thought that I would share a few photos of Christmases past. Growing up in Troy, New York, my mother always made sure that we had new outfits (often matching) for our annual holiday card – but getting five of us to stand still AND smile was always a perennial struggle. I’m the proverbial middle child – one of four girls. 

We usually shared our holiday with both sets of grandparents, various family members from year to year but always our Uncle Ray and Aunt Kay, who lived just doors away. We feasted on Christmas Eve (when Aunt Kay could be depended upon for her turnips!) before a roaring fire. Invariably, Santa, whose voice was quite similar to my father’s (and who was always suspiciously absent at this time) would make an annual appearance. We sang carols by the piano before often heading off for Midnight Mass.

Christmas morning brought the joy of opening our gifts. Our mother worked full-time as an executive secretary, so how she managed to do that, raise five children and also decorate/shop/wrap/clean/cook/hostess for Christmas remains one of my life’s great mysteries. Christmas morning at 2 Sunset Avenue was a spectacle to behold due to her, and I cherish the memories of both of my parents and what they sacrificed for our collective joy. (The years with the small silver Christmas tree, however, do raise doubts about some of their decorating choices.)

Without ever really trying, I’ve realized that I managed to replicate much of this magic for my own children, though struggling to get a good holiday card photo of my children remains just as challenging. Though they are now grown men, my three sons will still enjoy opening their gifts this Christmas morning – but I’m especially pleased to share that they like to cook and will actually be in charge of our Christmas Eve dinner (something at which their mother was never quite proficient!).

We are looking especially forward to welcoming home our oldest son, an Army Ranger who is currently stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado. For those of you who are, or have been, Blue Star Mothers, we know that our children’s safe return home is truly the greatest gift of any season. Please remember our men and women in uniform, particularly those who are deployed, at this time of year.

I know that you will fondly recall your own holiday traditions and memories in the weeks ahead, and I wish you all the best for a season filled with happiness, surrounded by those you love. ‘Tis the season to shine – and I wish you all that is merry and bright.

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