Traditions Can Define Us
As we round the corner for Christmas, I wanted to share a few thoughts on a longstanding Holiday Tradition that has been part of my life for the last 38 years: The Lazzati Christmas Card.
My in-laws, Jimmy and Rosemary Lazzati, started a tradition of a family Christmas Card in 1955, that has now spanned 65 years. They eventually had ten children: “Jimmy, Virginia, Mary, Dodie, Joanie, Margie, Joey, Johnny, Philip, and Paul”, often said as one word, like the alphabet.
I entered the picture, literally, in 1982 after Margie and I were married. At that time, between 1500 to 2000 cards a year were mailed. As I went to events in Baltimore, thereafter, I was vaguely familiar to more and more people.
The annual fall migration to take the picture has become more and more challenging. Just trying to pick a date to gather that would work for everyone, or at least as many as possible, can be difficult. However, the gathering afterward was like another Thanksgiving (if it wasn’t really already Thanksgiving).
The day of the picture is less frantic for us than it once was, as our children are adults. Prepping all the outfits for the little children and keeping their attention for the photographer caused some tense moments for us. Carrying forward a ChristmasTrandtion as its own unique obligations and expectations. Ask Tevye, Tradition connects and binds us.
Our matriarch, Rosemary, is still very much alert and aware, despite her now advanced health challenges and loss of vision. Father in law Jimmy died in 2007. When he did, some of us wondered if that would end the tradition of the picture. It has forged on. We have since then also lost siblings Joan and John. The remaining children, along with accumulated spouses, significant others, and grandchildren today total 38, with three more to be joining us shortly.
Brother Jimmy sends a large set of cards to relatives in Italy, and visited yearly, keeping that Christmas Tradition of the card and its many family connections active.
As an estate planning attorney, I work with people on reviewing their lives and what really matters to them. In the end, for most people I talk to, life all comes down to their relationships. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly are all going there when people are involved. When I look at these past Christmas Cards at one time, it is a bittersweet walk down memory lane, reminding me undeniably of my aging but also the joy of our own family’s growth and changes.
This year we didn’t gather together to take the picture, for the first time, due to the Coronavirus. That presented its own challenges to carrying on our tradition, but better done than perfect. This year we collected pictures and combined them, to do the best we could this year.
I am sure you have your own Holiday Tradition (Christmas or another Holiday that you celebrate), your version of the Lazzati Christmas Card, seeped in memories both good and bad, that also ultimately are about relationships. Your traditions will require adjustments and may not seem quite right this year. Many people are having pandemic fatigue. Please stay safe, and make what you can of this forced simpler time.
We wish you a blessed, safe Christmas and hope-filled 2021.