Like the song says, “For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.”
We spend all year chasing Two Lane back road sunsets, exploring old towns, and searching for something we’ve never seen before. While on any other adventure, it would be nice to have a map to follow, the road home is one we know by heart. We all have the memory of turning our wheels onto that familiar street, our heart beats in anticipation of the family, food, gifts, and games waiting on the other side of the door. While we know this year looks different, we can still keep those memories alive in new ways.
The bustle of the year can keep us busy, but the holidays are here to remind us to slow down, put work away, and unplug. Family and friends are gathering for Zoom call across the country to make memories with the ones they love, dust off cherished family heirlooms, and tell stories of the past while catching up on the present. There are many things to appreciate about this season, but here are our favorites. (Curious to know if y’all feel the same way.)
Unpacking The Past
Keepsakes are capable of capturing decades of memories. It’s always so incredible how we unpack the pieces of our past every holiday, and they still manage to remain whole. Thinking about how we allow our minds to travel back to little happy moments of our lives when it was our job to hang that one special ornament, or thinking about the way your favorite toy felt in your hands. These heirlooms have become the tangible memories of our lives that we get to share with grandchildren, spouses, and friends.
Traditions Both Old and New
Holidays seemed so simple back when the toys we received didn’t require batteries or need to be charged. Sometimes it can feel like the holidays have gone too commercial. We crave that simplicity for playing outside all day until your shoelaces freeze instead of Instagramming our food. This is a great opportunity to show the current generation how to bond with family without cell phones, electronics, or Netflix. Get a game of jacks or pick up sticks going, grease up some sleds, go take a drive to see the lights, or just run outside all day until you can’t feel your toes.
Even more than games think about different decorations were! Real trees, real pine garland, going out and picking pinecones off the ground to paint for centerpieces. Holiday decor was less about LED candy canes and more about cranberry popcorn garland. It was more fun to be resourceful with nature than buying decor at a hardware store.
No matter how simple or specific a tradition is, the point is that it is shared between the generations because someday it will be their duty to keep those special little moments alive for years to come.
It’s not just the smell of cookies that have a way of jogging our memories. Scents of family memories stick with us too! You can never forget those tight squeezes from your uncle that always smelt like pipe tobacco and cold air, or a hug from gramma that smells like old literature books and vanilla that’s spilled on her apron from being in the kitchen making that special dessert she only makes this time of year.
Just as smells connect us to a memory, so does a song. All those years of gathering around the piano as your Aunt Susan lead the family in a never-ending round of singing “Jingle Bells”. The great thing about music memories is they don’t have to be from family sing-a-longs to be special. Maybe your dad always plays Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” while rigging up the lights Maybe your mom always played The Carpenter’s Christmas album while you decorated cookies to deliver to the neighbors. Speaking of baking…
Preparing Family Recipes
There are always those special treats and dishes that families whip up for a holiday feast: Gramma’s walnut pie, pumpkin rolls, maybe a secret recipe for the ham. Participating in the kitchen to stir, sift, mix, and measure gave you a behind-the-scenes look into your favorite dishes. Someday they’d be yours to prepare!
A great lesson we learned in the kitchen was how it didn’t cost money to give gifts. Neighbors often exchanged homemade gifts like fudge, tea, ornaments, — gifts intended to be shared with the family. Maybe your family always made baskets filled with fruits, chocolates, and hard ribbon candy wrapped up in colored cellophane to deliver to those who were snowed in or unable to leave. It’s amazing was some sweets can do!
If that wasn’t your style, you could always set the table, light the candlesticks, polish the silverware, or go gather pinecones for a centerpiece!
Cross Country Connections With Holiday Cards
We’ve mentioned in the past about the romanticism of writing a letter, and how that art of pen to paper is something that never goes out of style. For those of us that sent and received holiday cards, it was a chance to share with others updates on the kids as they grow, new adventures, and best wishes for the New Year. Gilded cards with delicate cursive salutations are on full display as you walk inside to the sounds of kitchen commotion, crackling fire, and the laughter of children playing. Making memories to write about in next year’s card.
No matter if your home is large, small, bought, or rented, Traveling the Two Lanes road home means greeting the people and places that shaped our lives. While some people maybe be missing it, you know the season will still be special because traditions remain. Let us know your favorite holiday memory in the comments below.
Photos by Meghan Aileen