Oh, The Traditions That We Pass…

Posted October 15, 2013 by jimhigley


Dear Mom,

Sorry. I’m betting you don’t like this photo. Truthfully, it doesn’t look that much like you. You’re not smiling. Or laughing. Like you seem to be in almost every other picture of you. But I still like it. For starters, that little four-month old is awfully cute. And I’m guessing he’s distracted by one of his four older brothers off to the side.

Perhaps whatever they are doing is what took that smile off your face.

But there’s something else I really like in this picture. It’s what’s sitting up on the buffet cabinet next to the tree. Yup, I’m talking about the manger scene. Some people call it a crèche – but you always referred to it as a “manger scene” so I’m sticking with that.

One of my favorite memories every holiday season was the day you would pull out that well-worn white box with the words “manger scene” written on the top. There was something magical about that day. Year after year. Maybe that’s because I always knew there was something important about that manager scene to you. Someone gave it to you, right? A neighbor. Someone down the street? In my mind I think you told me once they were missionaries. I’m not sure. And I’ll never know

But I just always knew that you loved the contents of that white box with the handwritten words.

And I loved unpacking it with you annually. And setting it up ever so carefully. One figurine at a time. The kings. The sheep. The wise men. The whole ceramic crew.

You had very few “things” you cared about in your life. But I knew you cared about this.

That was certainly apparent every January when you and I would pack things away for another year. One by one, piece by piece, we’d wrap everything. In toilet paper. I never thought twice about your packing technique because that is what you always did. The tradition was the norm. And, in retrospect, quite efficient and effective.

One photo. So many memories.

I’m now the keeper of that manger scene – and have been for many years. It’s one of the few things I have of yours. I still keep it in the same box – which is now held together with many layers of masking tape. But your handwritten words on top are still there. Words that are treasured as much as the contents.

Which we now pull out year after year. To begin our holiday season celebrating the things we hold close. And you.

And every January, it’s the very last thing I pack away to bring closure to yet one more season. Piece by piece.

Each one wrapped.

Precisely the same way you taught me.

It’s crazy, isn’t it. The things that matter…

Love, Jim


This memory is brought to you through my partnership with Kimberly-Clark during the months of September and October. It’s part of their Pick Up the Values Program– providing tips and ideas for parents to stretch their budgets.

Today’s memory is compliments of Cottonelle Toilet Paper and Wipes. I mean, come on, what better story to tie in to Cottonelle! My mom would smile. 

Stop by the Cottonelle Facebook Page to join in more conversations. Be sure to learn more about the Cottonelle Care Routine while you’re there! And be sure to visit the Pick up the Values website for over $40 of money-saving coupons.

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Rest assured, while I’ve been compensated by Kimberly-Clark for this story, the memory, and belief in their product is as real as it comes.