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We have Black Friday traditions and none of them involve shopping

Joyce Olson

Black Friday has always been a big part of our Christmas tradition every year. It’s the springboard that officially kicks off the Christmas season in our home.

As much as we savor Thanksgiving Day, our minds are already filled with anticipation of the following morning as we envision colorful Christmas lights, silver baubles and the reading of The Night Before Christmas. These events are mentioned over the carving of the turkey and the mashing of those wonderful russet potatoes. However, there is one tradition that is left unspoken: the making of the fruitcakes after the Christmas tree is trimmed.

Image: Joyce Olson

Oh yes, I am one of those people who still makes and bakes fruitcakes, wrapping them in liquor-soaked muslin to ripen over the course of the month.

You know some traditions will never end — and that is what makes them so comforting, cozy and glowy. I have decided I actually like the idea of being remembered as the quirky mom who would never give up on her fruitcakes. Besides, I like to have a few on hand to give to neighbors and the postman.

I begin the day after Thanksgiving by waking up bright and early and immediately brewing a fresh blend of our favorite Christmas coffee, while Christmas music serenades us all. We often eat pumpkin pie for breakfast with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream on top. This is still a day of splurges and celebrating our family time together. I treasure these priceless moments — they are a time when I hold dear the bygone celebrations and eagerly anticipate the events of present day.

We usually feel quite energized after our coffee infusion and the task of bringing all of those plastic containers down from the attic, filled with Christmas joy, doesn’t seem quite so daunting. This task is the one that brings out all the moans and groans and the children reminding me that I promised I would not fill them as full from Christmas past (but, of course, I did).

I am forgiven quite quickly for overstuffing the containers, as the children begin to unwrap the yellowed and torn newspaper from each of the decorations that were carefully wrapped, tucked and nestled into the plastic bins.

The reminiscing begins. I sit back in my favorite yellow floral chair, plop my pink fuzzy slippers on the well-worn ottoman and listen to the voices of my children. Even though our children are grown now and have children of their own, they become delighted with the memories of holding and unwrapping their childhood Christmas decorations. Christmas time truly does bring the child out in all of us, and I love seeing them as children once again.

These adults of ours — they went from towhead tots to grown men with beards and little girls who have turned into beautiful women with children of their own. Today, they all set aside their adult armor, without realizing it, for a few hours. Without even noticing, the magic of the season slowly seeps in and engulfs us all.

Image: Joyce Olson

The Christmas music station is on, and Burl Ives is singing one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Holly Jolly Christmas.” My mother’s heart is already bursting with Christmas joy when our oldest son starts laughing first — his laugh always tickles me.

He is holding one of his many Christmas ornaments from his childhood days, and even though I feel certain he saw this one last year, he cannot quite believe he made this ornament out of a flower pot when he was just a child. He also cannot imagine me saving it for so many years. I am a mother — I save many things, like the gold-colored rigatoni shells that are meant to look like angels, which each of the girls made when they were youngsters.

Black Friday is the day our family defines the traditions of the season. We eat well, sip, chat, laugh, remember and create new memories to uplift us throughout the years. Our Christmas tree is the story of our lives, each branch is host to a decoration, a beautiful reminder of where we came from and where we are going.

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