The Truth Behind Holiday Traditions

Dear Reader:

Monday, StoryWorth, asked me to remember some of my family’s Christmas traditions. I started out my response by defining traditions as “heirlooms” comprised of sweet memories passed down from one generation to the next.

Initially we might consider an “heirloom” (as defined in dictionaries) as a  valuable object passed down from one generation to the next. If we define “valuable” in terms of money or expense this definition doesn’t work in my family but if “valuable” means a personal prized possession… then my family has many traditions.

Let me share some with you since this year we will be altering some of these traditions due to Covid.

The annual family traditions I most prize are centered around family and friends who started a tradition for my family out of the generosity of their beings. The best “heirlooms” of all.

*Honey’s Apple Tree– Every year Honey arrives with everything needed to put my table centerpiece together…from the time it is put up…the most luscious aroma invades the house. It has become part of a tradition I look most forward to each year.

* Marcia Temple’s “fake snowballs” and the ensuing snowball fight. In 2016 Marcia started this tradition when she sent fake snowballs to my house in time for Christmas Eve…the fight took place in my house since we were meeting after the Christmas Eve Service…it was wild, crazy, and started a new tradition.

*Joan Turner’s exquisite whimsical original Christmas cards have become another wonderful tradition that I look forward to each year. My collection of all of them now brings me much joy any time of the year.

*Five stockings now hang by the ‘chimney with care’…but this year I will need to take the stockings to Walsh and Mollie’s home since the family won’t be coming to Summerville (for the first time for Christmas Eve and the service) and the snowball fight will need to be held there too.

Ruthie, the rag doll, from the children’s Christmas story, “The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree” always sits on top of my tree year after year after year. These days, however, I can no longer send the photo to the author, Gloria Houston, because of her untimely death from a rare cancer several Christmases ago.

Homespun Santa.…When I worked on weekends at the old Cauthens Building years ago…for the artist, Sammy Ravenel Gaillard, I put this homespun Santa on lay-away  and paid some each month until I finally had bought it from People, Places, and Quilts for Christmas one year. Having to save for so long…it means so much to me to see it under the tree each year.

Many of my tree decorations are special too…after experiencing an elevator relationship with a little red cardinal…I named Sammy…I got lots of red cardinal Christmas decor…especially tree ornaments…I got this little plump cardinal from my neighbor Vickie one Christmas. So cute! All…a wonderful tradition!!


When Honey shared her mysterious but intriguing true story behind the kiln creation of the clay manger scene…I wrote a poem to accompany it…and it still adds mystique to the holiest day of all.

…But the longest Christmas Eve tradition for me…is telling the annual Christmas Eve story at the children’s service. This year that will be somewhat altered too…as I will be taped on an earlier recording for that night.

It is especially hard to alter this tradition this year, even a little, since this year marks my 30th year telling a Christmas Eve story.

So this year  will be a look-back of all the types of stories told over three decades… highlighting bits from the special stories. Christmas Memories...

So until tomorrow…Traditions may change but love and generosity remain the same…people make traditions from the heart.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Truth Behind Holiday Traditions

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    So very true.. as I have shared the Heidrick family had lots of traditions for Thanksgiving…Christmas and Easter…and we made it through Thanksgiving without gathering for the first time in my life .. 67 yrs. But as the verse in a song says…”love will keep ys together”. Hope to listen to your story at sone point. I will be by soon. Love you.


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