Straw nativity from Guatemala

Straw nativity from Guatemala. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts / Blended Family TravelingMom

Competing with memories and traditions of Grandma or Great Grandpa — is that acceptable at your house when somebody really prefers decorating with Christmas treasures purchased while traveling?

Maybe there’s room for everything as travel discoveries encroach on family heirlooms, or perhaps we can advise one another how to blend the past with the moment for the holidays, and even all year.

This year, Grandmother Bertha’s century-old red glass tree ornaments reflect light in her dear-departed cousin’s cut glass bowl, an heirloom wedding gift to me in 1970.  Stationary, not suspended from a Frazier fir limb.




Creche Traditional? Possibly Not

Folk nativity from Riviera Maya

Folk nativity from Riviera Maya. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts / Blended Family TravelingMom

The traditional crèche is not front and center this year because a colorful pottery version of the Gospel story came home from Mexico, and a straw nativity from Guatemala.

For 40 years at least a little Santa has hung from a nail over the doorway at my house and still does. Pull the string and he raises his arms and legs in a silly but festive sort of dance.

Traditional fellow has a friend now, thanks to the Christmas markets in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin at the Osthoff Resort.

Swedish dancing Santa

Swedish dancing Santa.Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts / Blended Family TravelingMom

International artisans fill tents on the Osthoff grounds each December, selling traditions from their lands and that’s how the Swedish Santa traveled to my house.

Christmas markets in Europe surprise first-time winter travelers because they offer so much practical gift-giving: socks, mittens, pots and pans, but art is there too.

My slender carving touted as a nativity actually looks to me like Mary perhaps with two toddlers and a lamb.

Seekers of big nativities find one another at the Katie Wohlfahrt store in several German locations; that’s the memory for me with my three-tiered scene of the manger, shepherds and the wise men.

Folk Tales

German tiered creche

German tiered creche.Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts / Blended Family TravelingMom

They seem to scurry when candles at the base are lighted, reminiscent of the Italian Christmas folk tale of Old Befana in the night sky trying to find the Christ Child.

A Russian nativity actually came to be mine on a small-ship cruise in Alaska from Juneau to Sitka, where Russian history is a dominant theme.

Roads well traveled I know ever so much better than the inherited traditional items from relatives I never met, yet mystical energies seem wrapped up in heirlooms.

Perhaps blending the memories of lives long lived and trips recently taken leads to new family connections. Worth the musing.