This morning when I woke up and looked out the window I didn’t see Lake Chelan as I did on Christmas mornings as a child and young adult. Growing up, Christmas meant going over to my grandparent’s home in Manson, Washington, overlooking Lake Chelan. Granddad was an orchardist who grew mostly red and golden delicious apples on 8 acres in the main orchard and across Wapato Lake Road in the little orchard.
We (me, Mom, and Dad) lived in Seattle and going to Manson for Christmas was a big deal because we had to go over the Cascade Mountains via Stevens Pass to get there. Having to put chains on the car before going over the pass was a given. Having the pass blocked by one or more avalanches was not unheard of. If that occurred, we would have to go over Snoqualmie and Blewett Passes to get to Manson. I remember a couple years waiting at the foot of Stevens Pass while snow plows cleared the highway for us to go over the mountain.
The special thing about Christmas at Manson was the whole family would be there. The family included Grandmother and Granddad; Mom’s brother Uncle Lyle, Aunt Hilly, and their two boys, Bucky and Fritz; Mom’s sister Aunt Hollis, Uncle George, and their three girls, Launa, Donna, and Nelda; and, Mom, Dad, and me. The thing about us cousins was that at Christmas we were one year apart with Bucky being the oldest, then Launa, Donna, Fritz, Nelda, and me. When Aunt Hollis divorced Uncle George there were only thirteen of us and Granddad wouldn’t allow us to sit at one table for dinner and supper because thirteen is an unlucky number. Our problem was solved with Uncle Lyle arranging for one of Bucky or Fritz’s friends eating with us for those meals.
I suppose most family traditions have a time limit. Things just can’t go on as they did because kids grow up and move on to new families, parents get divorced, and people die. That was our situation. Christmas in Manson ended for me when Granddad died when my son was five. Grandmother had died a few years before, but once Granddad was gone, there wasn’t a reason to go over the mountains. Christmas moved to my mother’s home, but even that couldn’t last forever. Now, it’s just me and my son, and even that couldn’t last when my life with him unraveled this year at the end of September resulting in my move to Texas.
Now, I’m left to come up with my own Christmas traditions. I wonder what those will be.