Monday, November 2, 2009

Traditions to Keep

Christi's comment on Saturday's post inspired me to continue on the idea of tradition. There are several reasons I admire your comment, Christi. Of course, I'm proud and pleased that our dear Victoria magazine had such an honored place in your life. When I first began the magazine, I used to say, perhaps too lightly, that Victoria was made a successful publication by women who loved their grandmothers, as I did mine. It also seems, in your case, that grandmothers were proactive, too. Bless her.

For those in the world who didn't understand the magazine, they would be surprised to know that young woman were so taken with our editorial. It never seemed to matter that "our numbers" always proved our claims. But that didn't matter as much to me as did stories like yours. What you know in your heart and soul is way more important. We even had babies named Victoria. And those were definitely younger women having those girls!

And now to the subject of this entry--traditions. You have given us all some great inspiration. Using decorations made by your children and lovingly caring for legacies from your grandmother are so wonderful. I can't think of any other way to express it. You are putting family, your family, at the center of your celebration. And you are doing it in your own special way.

We all have such traditions that bring us great joy. And now is the season when the boxes are getting unpacked and the holiday china is being taken down from the china cabinet and run through the dishwasher (but only if appropriate).

In our house, one of the first things I do with Christmas in the air is polish the silver and cranberry glass pitcher that has been in my husband's family since 1902. The Walton quilt, a log cabin design made on an Iowa farm, is only on display during the holidays. It is the essence of our family--and while we take good care of it, we love to share its artistry with others. The first ornament on our tree every year is a tiny Santa that was given to our son the year he was born.

And so, again, thank you Christi for reminding us of how endearing our traditions are. Traditions to keep. Tis the season. Please share yours with us.


  1. Dear Nancy, what a wonderful comment Christi left on your original post. To inspire the one who inspired all of us is indeed the highest compliment any Victorianne wordsmith could hope to receive!
    The spirit of hearth and home is so alive in us at the holiday seaon. Sweet memories of childhood are rekindled...
    Thank you for continuing to mentor our gentle ways.
    Victorially yours, Karla

  2. Nancy,

    Thank you so much for this post and for continuing to inspire us to appreciate those in our past who passed down a heritage of beautiful things and traditions, while also reminding us to cherish those closest to us now. Your posts have a way of bringing those wonderful memories to mind. It truly brought a smile to my face to read your thoughts about my comment. Both my grandmothers were so special, but in very different ways. They were both a part of the Greatest Generation, and both their husbands were in the military during WWII. I believe that living through those difficult times shaped the character of so many.

    Holidays really are all about family for me, and each year we add to our traditions. I especially love Thanksgiving, for a few reasons. First, it gives us all a reminder to be intentional about being thankful. It's too bad we need that prodding, but we do get caught up in the day to day and forget that we have so very much for which we can be grateful. We may not have much materially, but if we live in this country we are among some of the wealthiest people in all the world... no matter our income bracket. Secondly, Thanksgiving has always been a time to focus on extended family. We may go all year without seeing one another, but for this day we get together and share stories, memories, and tales of days gone by. For a number of years now we have held our celebration in our home, and it is wonderful to have both sides of the extended family here with us. Thirdly, I enjoy this particular holiday because there are no gifts, elaborate decorations, and just the general hurry and worry associated with other holidays. It's just family getting together for a meal and some real fellowship. Everyone pitches in by bringing their special dish, so no one person is overburdened by their tasks.

    You mentioned polishing that silver and cranberry pitcher as a beginning to your holidays. I always enjoy the process of polishing my silver (a great deal of which also belonged to my grandmother) in preparation for having everyone in my home on Thanksgiving. There is just something wonderful about polishing away the tarnish and seeing that wonderful shine in the silver, as if brand new and ready for another season.

    One other treasure from my grandmother which I bring out on holidays is a handmade organza apron. This is one she made for special occasions like dinner parties, showers, and teas. She was ever the proper hostess, and no ordinary apron would do for those events. So, she made this apron by hand and stitched two roses (printed on fabric) beneath the organza ... one under the pocket and the other under the deep double hem. This made for a very feminine and elegant (though not all that practical) apron. It is a wonderful reminder of her beauty and creativity.


  3. I am sorry to report that I have no idea where my Grandma Annie's bubble lights and fragile ornaments ended up. Those decorations always combined with tinsel did not suit my mother's notions of Christmas decorations but they would have provided great comfort to me today.

    I still have the dime-store satin balls I purchased the year after college when I was nearly broke but in need of holiday comfort. I carefully trimmed each one with sequins and rick-rack in an attempt to fashion ornaments that looked old. I may have failed in this attempt, but I enjoyed the process. That holiday stands out in my memory. I so looked forward to coming home to my tiny apartment at night so I could light the single strand of lights on my little table-top tree.


  4. Dear Nancy:
    I just love the photographs you've included in your post...they seem to me to be the essence of the holiday! Warm and cozy. I, too, have a family quilt, made by a grandmother I never met. You've inspired me to fetch it out of storage and see what I can do to repair it, to keep it safe for my children and any they may have (although, at this rate, seems like that's not going to happen!!).

    Our family tradition is a goofy one, but has a serious purpose. We annualy devise a game of Family Trivia. My genius daughter pulls out photos, bits of nonsense, and questions to put to us after the big dinner. For example: "Name at least 5 of Naomi's boyfriends--bonus points if you can identify at least 3 Steves"; "Who says, 'She's a pistol!' everytime she watches "White Christmas"--bonus points: At what juncture in the film is this said?" or "Who is this elderly person in the funny hat in this photo?") We take turns answering, tally up the score, and typically wind up laughing ourselves silly. The serious purpose is that my now-grown kids keep their family (gone and present) alive in a genuinely enjoyable way; the old photos and remembered silliness act as catalysts to help them learn their family heritage and I get the assurance that my family stories live on.
    I suggest your readers try it this's a hoot!
    Love, Karen Marline

  5. Funny,I was unaware of the watchful eyes that were noting my own traditions. When my daughter was a child she begged for a newer brighter Christmas tree-topper than the rumpled angel I bought at Sturbridge Village. Last year, as I unpacked that angel, I realized her time had finally passed. But nothing doing - my now grad school daughter would not hear of it and the angel stayed. Soon, I’ll be sure to quietly tuck it in the box of items I am filling for her own future home.


  6. Such lovely ideas! Coming here tonight was just what I needed. Like finding a 1990s-era Victoria Magazine in the day's mail.


  7. Hi from Sydney Australia. Our holiday traditions are different from yours. How some traditions change and some inspire. This year we have had to put my dad in Nursing Care. He will be coming home for Christmas lunch and then we will spend dinnertime with another sick relative. For me Christmas means family and the joys od decorating and listening to Carols etc. I am one for variations on the Christmas theme - for the past 4 or 5 years, my colour sceme has been "Blue, Silver, Purple and White" - even though we don't have winter and snow these colours have inspired me in my choices. For me the joy of listening to holiday albums I only hear one month a year is my biggest tradition. We don't yet know what our family Christmas will be like, but at least we know one thing we will be a family together and that seems to be the biggest tradition of all. On the subject of Victoria, being a man, it has been different reading the magazine and I never felt strange doing so. It just covered alot of the things that I love. I felt inspired everytime I read an issue. Back in 1997 we gave my mother a "Something Old, Something New,Something Borrowed, Something Blue" party after reading an article about afternoon tea parties. We have since given other birthday parties, New Year's Eve (Millenium) party, Christmas afternoon tea and otehr events. These have been well attended and loved by friends and family. My sister is giving me a Hollywood inspired party for my 40th next March. Your inspiration continues in our family and one tradition we started thanks to your magazine is one loved by all. I am blessed to have had Victoria in my life for all these years and I love reading your posts. They bring joy to my working day. Thanks for bringing the magic back into my life.

    Keep inspiring generations to come.


    xxxxx ooooo

  8. When both of my children were growing up, we had so many Holiday traditions. When my daughter was born, my mother bought her a Christmas tree ornament each year so I decided to do the same. Even after Mom had to go to a nursing home, I bought special Christmas tree decorations for my daughter.

    When she married, she had enough beautiful ornaments to fill at least one tree in her home. Almost all of them carried some kind of nostalgic memory (so much better than buying a couple boxes at Wal Mart that first year!).

  9. First, I must tell you that the original Victoria Magazine was such a treasure. I still have many of the magazines and refer to them from time to time. I use to say it was like a mini-vacation when one arrived. I would make a cup of tea and sit, devouring every word and picture.

    Second, at first when I read about Traditions I thought I don't have anything special to share. Then I remembered. When my two children became adults they decided we needed a new Tradition for Christmas. Now each year they plan, buy the food, and prepare a secret Christmas dinner. The secret is that we are not told the theme until we sit down to the table. The theme is different every year. We have had meals from Ethiopia, Middle East, England, a prairie American, India, German, Asian, and others that I don't remember right now. It is so fun to be able to sit by the fire, enjoy my cup of tea, and be surprised each Christmas afternoon.

  10. How wonderful to see a photo of the Walton Quilt!!! Thank you, Best Gail

  11. Dear Nancy,

    How thrilling to find your blog! I was a subscriber of Victoria from my college days until the end and, therefore, a big fan of your work! The new mag just doesn't capture the essence of the original, so I've started buying old copies from eBay and reading them cover to cover - often remembering the original articles and lush photos from years ago. And now I can also enjoy your blog . . . lucky me!

    Keep up the good work!


  12. I've just found you -- from another blog. I have every issue of the original Victoria for the magazine and the move to Linderhof happened at about the same time. And although Linderhof is not Victorian, the ideas in the pages seem to fit my little house.

    Traditions are important and my grandmother and mother made traditions for me -- which I still keep. I passed those along to my daughter.

    It isn't ____________________________ until you do ________________. Whatever holiday comes along -- from our Halloween chili (started by my mother) to Thanksgiving and the sacred menu and of course, Christmas.

    I like those rituals, those traditions -- perhaps because of them when days seem to be a hustle and bustle, they give you calm.

  13. Dear Nancy,

    This afternoon, I spied your name on a blog list and excitedly made my way through this wonderland called the internet to pay you a visit.

    I am feeling so blessed to have this opportunity to let you know that your work, via "Victoria", was a profound and positive influence on my life. I am very grateful for your guiding spirit behind the magazine as much as for the magazine itself. Thank you.

    While I did not have the privilege to know my grandmothers, I am very much a part of the other group you mention. My daughter, Rose Victoria, at 16, is a living testament to my appreciation for the loveliness and kind spirit that "Victoria" represented.

    Today, I still possess all but three of the original "Victoria" magazines (beginning with your second issue). They are well loved, much read and continue to feed my hunger for, and love of, beauty, art and good thoughts.

    Thank you for being so generous with your thoughts and ideas via this lovely blog. I strongly suspect that I will become a regular visitor.