Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Memories and Traditions

December 21, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...the time of the year when I can be transported back in time--three years, ten years, thirty-five years--by the sights and smells and sounds of the season. All of them, all of them, revolve around family. On the shortlist of memories that bring a smile to my face are these.

From My Childhood:

Making the two day drive to Oklahoma, all of us kids stretched out in sleeping bags in the back of the Station Wagon (in the days before we all wore seat belts)

Christmas at Grandma Mayes' with Yummy Meat for breakfast (I couldn't say the word "sausage.")

My grandpa sitting me on his knee every year, singing his favorite song "Silver Bells" to me in his deep, beautiful voice. The song never fails to remind me of him.

My Uncle Mike singing me, relentlessly, "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" the year I did not, in fact, have either of my two front teeth.

Making the rounds every year to see all of our Oklahoma relatives during our annual Christmas trek--Grandma and Grandpa Noble, Great Grandma Aubrey and Great Grandma Cudd, Uncle Pug, Aunt Euphemie, Aunt Dave....Don't ya just love the names??

Getting to see it snow on Christmas morning at Grandma's.

Lifesavers Christmas "books." Anyone else remember these?

All five of us getting locked in the Master Bedroom together every Christmas night, so that we wouldn't "accidentally" sneak up on Santa. We'd stay up nearly all night, ears at the doors and windows, taking turns listening for the jingle of bells or the stamp of feet on the roof.

Mom writing numbers instead of names on the presents so that we wouldn't know whose presents were whose. She quit that system one year when she lost her master list of numbers and had to unwrap every gift to figure out which kid it was for!

Mom used to love to have spun glass on the tree--it reflected the Christmas lights beautifully. I'm not sure they make it anymore--I think someone figured out it could be dangerous.

I remember the year Gary and I unwrapped all the presents and then rewrapped them, just so we could see what we were getting. We discovered that that made Christmas morning a lot less exciting!

Mom's Christmas lights in the yard were so bright and so plentiful that no one was ever worried about finding our house in the dense Fresno fog.

Everyone piling into the van to see the lights on Christmas Tree Lane.

All the holiday favorites: The Year Without a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman...

Mom's famous 'Functional Gifts' and Gifts 'with an explanation.': "Okay, you might not be too excited about this; it's a functional gift. I knew you needed new underwear." OR "Okay, I know it looks like just a bike tube, but there's an explanation. I bought a bike for you--a good, used bike--and had it sent to the shop to get it fixed up. They just didn't finish it in time, but it'll be ready in three days. The bike tube represents the present."

My brother Gary and me opening our Christmas stockings.


Visiting Great Grandma.

Sisters by the tree.

Christmas Traditions With My Kids (Since my kids are growing bigger, some of these traditions are moving into the 'memories' category, which makes me more than a little melancholy and nostalgic. I'm working on coming to terms with it, recognizing that new traditions will be born):

Adopting a Star Tree ornament each year. Since the kids were born, we've always adopted a Star Tree ornament for a child whose age corresponds to our kids' ages and gender. Each of my children get to shop for a girl or a boy of their own age, so that they can pick out something they would really like. Even in tough times, I've always believed it was important to teach my kids that there are people with less that we have, and we should do what we can to help out others.

Taking a different route home each day in December, to see where people have put up new Christmas lights.

Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer.

Leaving a 'snow trail' of powdered sugar from the fireplace to the Christmas tree.

Singing Christmas music as loudly and as often as possible with all the kids.

Seeing as much of my family as possible on the holidays. The house is always crowded, but it's full of love that way.

Everyone going out as a family to pick out the Christmas Tree.

Buying or making a new ornament for the family and for each individual child each year. That way, when the kids are old enough to move out on their own, they get to take a set of their very own ornaments to start their own Christmas trees with.

Decorating the tree by having the kids take out their own ornaments, remembering the story of what year it came to them, or who made it or gave it to them, and what the significance was while they are dressing up the tree. I LOVE this part! It really lets them slow down and remember our family history.

Getting all the kids together to take the annual family Christmas card picture.

My Christmas elves, a couple of years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment