A Fading Tradition

Above all, I’ll miss my cousins—her voice, his energy, her sweetness, his considered remarks, her giggles, their stories about their lives. Without them, Christmas fades like old color photographs—still essentially the same but paler, thinner somehow.

I can remember a time before them. I’m the oldest in my generation and at first they all lived far away. But then their parents, like friends gathering gladly around an open fire, came to live here in Humboldt. And Christmas meant cousins.

Every year we met at my mother’s house and every year, laughing and jostling and teasing, we cousins gathered for a photo of just us. We never managed all in the same photo. Someone was always gone. But we held a teddy bear in place of the missing person while aunts and uncles and husbands bossed us about as they all tried take our picture at once. “Next Christmas,” we tell ourselves, “next Christmas we’ll all be here.”

But now I can see that ‘Next Christmas’ will never come. This year the diaspora, like too much sunlight, has faded our famly photo. My beautiful cousins have almost all disappeared to other places. We’ve all grown up, moved on. We have other responsibilities. I know it happens in every family. Unlike a photograph, life doesn’t pause on the pretty parts.

So this year at my mother’s there will be just one other cousin to wake up early and raid the stockings with, to team with on board games, and to share Grandma’s fudge.

The photo will be of a twosome not a group.

And Christmas will be less bright and more sepia.

We’ll start a new tradition. I know we will. But I’ll miss the old one.

And I’ll miss my cousins.

  • Laytonville Rock
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28 comments

  • It seems the older I get, the less I see of those who matter to me. What a fabulous idea to hold a bear in place of the missing cousin.
    My immediate family was always insular and stayed with just us. Then, I was absorbed by the Redneck’s family. His cousins, aunts, uncles all gathered at Christmas.
    Now, as in your family, it seems to be shrinking all of them trying to stay employed and stay together.
    I miss the rowdy crowd of forty people all related in some way.

  • It seems the older I get, the less I see of those who matter to me. What a fabulous idea to hold a bear in place of the missing cousin.
    My immediate family was always insular and stayed with just us. Then, I was absorbed by the Redneck’s family. His cousins, aunts, uncles all gathered at Christmas.
    Now, as in your family, it seems to be shrinking all of them trying to stay employed and stay together.
    I miss the rowdy crowd of forty people all related in some way.

  • Hi Kym,
    This tugged at me a little bit as the same thing has inevitably happened to my family over the years. I’m the lone sister/cousin that ended up staying here. Like you, I live way out in the middle of a beautiful nowhere. They all think I’m completely nuts, but I’ll really miss them anyway!

  • Hi Kym,
    This tugged at me a little bit as the same thing has inevitably happened to my family over the years. I’m the lone sister/cousin that ended up staying here. Like you, I live way out in the middle of a beautiful nowhere. They all think I’m completely nuts, but I’ll really miss them anyway!

  • Unfortunately the jobs for young professionals can’t be found here so everyone but my brother and I are gone. Then, it gets harder and harder to get back and people build new lives in their new places. I understand.

    But I hate it. I suspect there are a lot of us in Humboldt with this little ache at Christmas.

  • Unfortunately the jobs for young professionals can’t be found here so everyone but my brother and I are gone. Then, it gets harder and harder to get back and people build new lives in their new places. I understand.

    But I hate it. I suspect there are a lot of us in Humboldt with this little ache at Christmas.

  • If you look closely you can see Chtistmasy snow flakes in this picture 🙂

    I have always told people that in only there were jobs and education back at home I would be able to consider living there. Then again, it wouldn’t be the same if there was something to do there because that means there would be more people!

    I forget where this quote is from, but I tend to think of it in times like this where a good thing is coming to an end. “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” Some of my dearest memories are from holidays in Salmon Creek and I am so happy that I am able to re-live them in my mind.

    I have been planning my Christmas in Tokyo recently and all I can do is laugh at the mind-boggling difference in settings and culture my Christmas would have taken part in if I was back in my hometown in Humboldt.

    By the way, who is the one cousin?

  • If you look closely you can see Chtistmasy snow flakes in this picture 🙂

    I have always told people that in only there were jobs and education back at home I would be able to consider living there. Then again, it wouldn’t be the same if there was something to do there because that means there would be more people!

    I forget where this quote is from, but I tend to think of it in times like this where a good thing is coming to an end. “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” Some of my dearest memories are from holidays in Salmon Creek and I am so happy that I am able to re-live them in my mind.

    I have been planning my Christmas in Tokyo recently and all I can do is laugh at the mind-boggling difference in settings and culture my Christmas would have taken part in if I was back in my hometown in Humboldt.

    By the way, who is the one cousin?

  • Ah, yes, it is very sad that this year there will only be two for the photograph. Even sadder that there will only be two to visit and laugh and play games. I don’t think we have enough teddy bears to cover all the missing cousins. But maybe next year we will have more live bodies and less teddy bears.

    Ren, Kym’s brother is the missing cousin in that photo. 🙂 I know you hardly know him!

  • Ah, yes, it is very sad that this year there will only be two for the photograph. Even sadder that there will only be two to visit and laugh and play games. I don’t think we have enough teddy bears to cover all the missing cousins. But maybe next year we will have more live bodies and less teddy bears.

    Ren, Kym’s brother is the missing cousin in that photo. 🙂 I know you hardly know him!

  • I love the ‘snowflakes” they make me smile every time even though one is in the middle of your forehead, Ren;>

    I loved your
    “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” I will try and remember that this Christmas. It will be hard though.

    When I stopped at Mom’s on the way to town, she and Grandma were making fudge (not as successfully as usual) and crying over my post and everyone missing this year. I am glad though you all are doing such great things with your lives (and I am a bit envious of Tokyo most of the year).

    Aunt Jackie, Mom and I think we’ve got the teddy bears covered–although Heather and I will be covered in Teddy Bears there are so many missing cousins.

  • I love the ‘snowflakes” they make me smile every time even though one is in the middle of your forehead, Ren;>

    I loved your
    “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” I will try and remember that this Christmas. It will be hard though.

    When I stopped at Mom’s on the way to town, she and Grandma were making fudge (not as successfully as usual) and crying over my post and everyone missing this year. I am glad though you all are doing such great things with your lives (and I am a bit envious of Tokyo most of the year).

    Aunt Jackie, Mom and I think we’ve got the teddy bears covered–although Heather and I will be covered in Teddy Bears there are so many missing cousins.

  • That was so good and really sad! Hopefully next year we can all get together again, I wil my my cousins too! I love our family tradition and feel terribly sad to miss it.

  • That was so good and really sad! Hopefully next year we can all get together again, I wil my my cousins too! I love our family tradition and feel terribly sad to miss it.

  • We need your candy making ability! They may skip on the divinity since there will be less of us. Hmph! I love that more than the fudge.

  • We need your candy making ability! They may skip on the divinity since there will be less of us. Hmph! I love that more than the fudge.

  • Oops, I was actually wondering who the one cousin is that will be there this year. I am well aware of who the teddy bear represented last year.

  • Oops, I was actually wondering who the one cousin is that will be there this year. I am well aware of who the teddy bear represented last year.

  • Heather is the lone cousin there besides me. Its just the Lone Cousin and her trusty redheaded sidekick, Kymto.

  • Heather is the lone cousin there besides me. Its just the Lone Cousin and her trusty redheaded sidekick, Kymto.

  • Don’t forget the great-grand-cousins! Sofia will be missing (so the teddy bear will have another photoshoot) but the grand-boys should have theirs taken again, too.

  • Don’t forget the great-grand-cousins! Sofia will be missing (so the teddy bear will have another photoshoot) but the grand-boys should have theirs taken again, too.

  • We need a smaller bear for her;>

  • We need a smaller bear for her;>

  • Wow, Kymto 😉 , It hadn’t struck me that it would just be us two until I read this at DJ’s the other night. Seems like I’m always the last hold-out in the sentimentality department. It will be quiet, I suppose. On the other hand, what a rare opportunity will be ours to sit and really talk with each other, and really connect – with only minor interruptions from big and little boys. That opportunity (which I’m always coming for) cannot happen with a minimum of 20 people in the same room. So, yes, Ren, I will smile for what has been, but also smile for what is now. I miss my cousins and will miss my brother and his family. But I will bask in the thought that I am an original, and I am still here.

  • Wow, Kymto 😉 , It hadn’t struck me that it would just be us two until I read this at DJ’s the other night. Seems like I’m always the last hold-out in the sentimentality department. It will be quiet, I suppose. On the other hand, what a rare opportunity will be ours to sit and really talk with each other, and really connect – with only minor interruptions from big and little boys. That opportunity (which I’m always coming for) cannot happen with a minimum of 20 people in the same room. So, yes, Ren, I will smile for what has been, but also smile for what is now. I miss my cousins and will miss my brother and his family. But I will bask in the thought that I am an original, and I am still here.

  • Knowing that you and I will have more time together has been the one good part of missing the others!

    Hey Original, I’m glad you are still here!

  • Knowing that you and I will have more time together has been the one good part of missing the others!

    Hey Original, I’m glad you are still here!

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