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Fragments and Shrapnel – Comfort Rituals

I like to think that I am not a person of habit. I don’t walk the same route to work and some days (gasp!) I don’t always make coffee in the morning.

I have lived away from my family for almost twenty years. I went away to college and occasionally worked for my parents in the summer but I never moved back to the Midwest after I graduated. Throughout the years, I have developed my own habits and customs on holidays but there are a few I’ve held on to since I was a wee lass.

On Thanksgiving I have to have stuffing and cranberries – everything else is up on the air. On Christmas, however, there are certain rituals that must be done or the world will implode.

Each year around Christmas, my parents would pack up the car and drive 200 miles in snow and ice to my grandparent’s house. We would always have dinner on Christmas (including lil’ smokies and my grandma’s famous Swedish meatballs) and go out looking for Santa and look at the lights. Somehow Santa just seemed to know we were out of the house and he would deliver presents at that moment. During our trips, everyone but the kids would spot Santa in the air and we’d get all excited and turn around and go back. My Grandpa would constantly flip through the radio stations trying to find Christmas music and avoid hitting patches of black ice while he drove. Christmas radio station flipping is a running joke in our family and if any of us go out on Christmas we do the obligatory radio station surfing and laugh and laugh.

My grandpa passed away almost two years ago but he left us many laughs and this tradition of looking for Santa. I still do it and flip through the stations.

Another winter tradition I have kept with me all these years is going for walks during snowstorms. My parents are square pegs living in the round hole that is the Midwest. They constantly go against the flow have built businesses out of unorthodox ideas. (Hello.. hockey school?) During many a Fargo blizzard, my parents would gleefully bundle up in five layers of clothing and go for walks. We thought they were crazy but it was a habit that stuck with me.

Now that I live in the Pacific NW we get a dusting of snow once a year, the city shuts down, and everyone panics. I like watching and listening to snow fall and feel a moment of peace before it gets dirty or my car gets stuck. Occasionally it snows more than inch and when it does, I force my husband to put on his military-issued polypropylene undergarments and I pull on my Dr. Martens and go for a walk. He complains but not too much because he knows how important it is to me. My friends, on the other hand, think I’m crazy and choose to stay in their homes.

This week on A Closer Look Radio, Pam and friends are discussing December holidays and how they have been celebrated through the ages. Tune in to to find what people did in the “olden days” and how holidays have evolved.

Now that I’ve shared my winter rituals with you, what sort of things did your family do that you continue to to do? What are your “comfort rituals”?


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

One response »

  1. I’ll play! 😉 Christmas rituals – Dad’s reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (with feeling, of course!) as we were getting tucked into bed Xmas Eve. Also, new Christmas Eve PJs. Both, no surprise, are continuing with our little family. Thanksgiving – must have The Bird, stuffing, (potatoes are optional in my world but Mom sets out BOTH mashed and candied sweet), and Waldorf salad is a MUST in my world, altho’ Dad and I are the only ones that eat it really. Can’t swear by any winter traditions per se – grew up where there was a ton of snow (PA) and now live where there’s hardly a drop of it.


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