The traditions that bind us


By Pat Larsen

For Capital Region Independent Media


When I think about the holidays from my youth, I’m reminded of the connections that were made through food, in faith and the joys of wonder and excitement that surrounded me. Those links created the building blocks for the traditions that I have carried forward now.

Perhaps you, too, are feeling the desire to make these holidays that much more impactful as we move forward this Christmas.

This year I’ve spent time reviewing the books and movies that I loved best. The symbolism of the stories has reignited my spirit for celebrating the holidays more than ever.

“A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, written in 1843, symbolized how the main character was influenced by disappointments, greed and then reflection on the possibilities of his own shift in how he approached life. How perfectly fitting is that metaphor for today’s times?

“The Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, was published anonymously in 1823. It has become a beloved classic for generations, often read just before bedtime on Christmas Eve. In 1837, Clement Moore claimed authorship for the work. He admitted to writing this poem to entertain his own young children.

Can you imagine that relationship to your own children and grandchildren to this day! It gave me goose bumps thinking about it.

The music of the holidays definitely connected all of us and still does. From the liveliness of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” to “Frosty,” everyone just loves participating in these sing-alongs.

My 2-year-old granddaughter is the newest member of our family chorus and after making this song’s introductions on Thanksgiving to her, we’re thrilled to have her join us with her own version of “Crusty the Snowman.”

I’m especially fond of the connections I feel to the holidays when I hear “Silent Night.” The research into this spiritual favorite is very interesting. “Silent Night’s” history (the song version) began in 1818, written by Joseph Mohr or thereabouts.

On Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to this song to a local composer asking that he create a guitar accompaniment for the night’s Mass after river flooding had damaged the church organ. The church eventually was destroyed by repeated flooding and eventually was rebuilt with the Silent-Night Chapel.

One more note regarding the message of “Silent Night.”

This song has been known to touch people from all nations and all cultures. “Silent night, holy night!” is an “expression of the deepest reflection and spiritual longing for peace on Earth.” Amen to that!

Last, but certainly not least, I couldn’t conclude this topic without consideration being given to the traditions of “abundance.” The foods of the holidays, the family gatherings, the delicious sweet treats, the handmade goodies for the children, the practical home items and, alas, now the laptops and video games. All the products of the worlds that existed then and now.

Our “Body, Mind and Spirit” connections are the glue that binds us to each other in similar or different ways at the holidays, whatever or wherever you celebrate this time of year.

Happiest of holidays to you and your families.


Pat Larsen is a licensed dance fitness instructor at The Shamrock House, East Durham. She is certified in hypnosis therapy. For more information, email



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