Christmas is a time for traditions, and every family has their own particular, if not peculiar, way of preparing for and celebrating the holidays. My family has a few “must-have” traditions that we try to continue each year – Mexican food and opening presents on Christmas Eve, saving the stockings for Santa to fill on Christmas Day, and hanging the ever popular “Christmas Pickle” ornament on the tree.
So I was interested in learning how others celebrate this hectic but amazing time of year. Hank Stuever’s book, “Tinsel” gives a look at one man’s observations of the holidays and how other’s celebrate.
In 2006, Washington Post reporter Hank Stuever journeyed to Frisco, Texas, a booming suburb of Dallas, to follow three families as they prepared for Christmas. Stuever would spend the next three holiday seasons with these folks, observing and participating in their celebrations, the results of which he reports in his new book, “Tinsel: A Search For America’s Christmas Present.”
Stuever begins his story as so many people start off the Christmas season: standing in line with the people waiting to find the best bargains of the season on “Black Friday.”
There he meets single mother Caroll Cavazos and her family as they wait to get the best deals on computers and video game consoles. Cavazos hopes that she will be able to give her family the gifts - tokens of her love - that she works so hard all year long to be able to afford. Active in her children’s lives as well as her local mega-church, Cavazos represents what seems to be the most “normal” interpretation of the season to Stuever.
From there Stuever follows two more of Frisco's true holiday believers as they get ready for their own unique style of Christmas celebration.
(Don’t forget to leave a comment for the Christmas Basket giveaway! I’ve been neglectful in mentioning it, but I’ll be drawing for a winner on December 15th – so tell your friends to come on by!)
And for those of you who don’t know what the legend of the Christmas Pickle is…
A very old Christmas eve tradition, said to be German in origin, was to hide a pickle ornament deep in the branches of the family Christmas tree. The parents hung the pickle last after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning they knew the most observant child would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year.