Traditions Old and New

Letter from the Editor

Someone once mentioned during a brainstorming meeting that if there were a magazine called Tradition, I’d be the first in line to interview for its editor position.

True! I relish the concept and, during winter, it goes into high gear. These traditions pepper my Christmases past: a holiday tree (always a blue spruce or Scottish pine, my dad insisted!) with ancient ornaments; electric candles in every window (for wayfaring strangers, my dad would say); cut-out cookies always made with the same recipe from Grandma; watching A Christmas Carol (today, my fave rendition, filmed in 1999, stars Patrick Stewart as Scrooge); and Mom’s oysters served on Grandma’s heirloom china.

Tradition also charged my brothers with chilling bottles of champagne in the snow and keeping a pile of firewood at the ready. After a holiday dinner, we’d clear the clutter on an old round table (handcrafted in a traditional woodworkers’ shop out East), gather around, and start wreaking havoc during a card game. Always!

As a kid growing up, these homespun rites of the season danced onto my winter lifescape, scattering joy galore. By pressing an imaginary button, the familiar scene would unfold annually at our home. Eight siblings, my parents, and their various older, single guests —  they had their own traditions, like sipping on a Manhattan (whose recipe, incidentally, has been around since the 1870s) — would enter stage left regaling everyone in attendance with stories about the challenges and enlightenment of the prior year.

A happy sense of familiarity erases any sense of worry about those occurrences of the previous 52 weeks and what may await at next year’s door. Traditions offer security and a strong sense of belonging.

I like the recent tradition that Birmingham-based interior designer Ann Heath started. She throws an annual New Year’s Eve party at her home, but makes it an Open House starting in the late afternoon so people can come and go well before midnight and enjoy their own traditions when the clock strikes 12.

In this issue, you’ll see a lot of holiday and nonholiday-related traditions, both old and new. For about 65,000 metro Detroit residents, every Sunday night means customarily tuning  in to WTVS Detroit Public Television to take in the aristocratic ambiance at Downton Abbey.

As for handcrafted traditions, take a look at the gorgeous furniture and accessories of woodworkers in Décor Showcase, page 22, and check out the enticing fudge, page 60, made with a recipe that’s more than 125 years old. In architecture, classic 1920s traditional design in two area homes fascinates.

Meanwhile, a Troy family prepares to welcome relatives and friends for their much-anticipated annual parties, where several themed Christmas trees and glistening tablescapes always enchant.

Across town in a new French-influenced colonial-style home, artistic traditions abound.

Now and throughout the year, everyone needs tradition.

A toast to starting some brand new ones, right at home.

(P.S. Enjoy our new Bulletin Board, on page 24. It showcases happenings in the design industry. In décor,  you’ll almost always find a sense of tradition. Just look at the Schumacher collection, based on centuries-old patterns, with a new twist.)