I’m trying to get into that good old Christmas spirit, coming off the tails of turkey day, but it’s been hard. I love Thanksgiving. In fact, I think it’s probably my favorite holiday. It’s not generally loaded with commercialism and is hardcore all about spending the day enjoying with those that you love. Bonus that you get to eat lots of yummies.
But, I do also love Christmas as well, but there are things that have jaded me a bit of late. I hate that you start seeing Christmas stuff going up at the store right around Halloween time. I’m sad that my boys are starting to grow out of toys and that was half the fun of season–finding cool toys for them to open and get joy out of. We have scaled back considerably on our gift purchasing, but I still kind of hate how out of hand it can get: who and what do you give to, mailmen, teachers, neighbors, hairdresser, babysitter, co-workers? I do love the act of giving and enjoy it so much more when the gift is truly needed and not expected. I am also not sure what to get at all for many of my giftees. Most of them don’t REALLY need anything, kids included, so creatively searching for something that will give them joy is sapping a lot of my energy, as I haven’t come up with many ideas. So enough bah hum bugs. I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories from Christmases of years past, in no particular order, to helpfully dredge up some good old fashioned Christmas spirit!
- I’ll never forget waiting at the top of the steps when I was a kid. It was agony waiting my mom and dad to FINALLY be ready to get out of bed. The unwritten law of the land was that Dad went down ahead of us all to get behind the 8 mm camera, fire up the blinding floodlight and plug in the electric train that puffed along under the tree. As soon as I heard that chug-a-chug-a-chug noise of the train and heard the camera rolling, I knew it was time to race down the stairs and see what santa had brought! The excitement of those mornings were unforgettable, and had a magic that I hope we were able to create with our own kids.
- One of my aunts used to host an extended family gathering on Christmas day each year. This wonderful woman, who I’ve previously called “the glue” , was was instrumental in keeping the ties within my mother’s siblings and kids close since she opened her home so often for all to gather. I always looked forward to gathering with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles as we shared with each other the joys we had that morning.
- Once our kids were old enough to get out of bed and realize that it was Christmas, my husband and I had to figure out how to keep them contained until we were ready to join them on Christmas morning…I will never forget the genius that is my husband when he outfitted the old changing table with a string of lights and propped it just so in front of the stairs with a note from santa. The squeals of joy in their voices when they saw that santa had done such a thing was memorable and unforgettable to say the least. It’s a repeated tradition, that I hope has left a lasting impression on them.
- Tom happened to capture one of the giddier moments from our own family’s Christmas one year when our youngest ripped open one of the packages to find one of the things that he apparently was really aching for. A true classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc-Jhkeyy5g&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
- As I mentioned earlier, my father was the champion of 8mm filming when we were kids. We often held movie nights to review some of our favorites, and two that stand out occurred on Christmas. One Christmas one of my sisters received this Dawn Doll Beauty Pageant toy. You stuck the dolls onto this moving circular stage, and no amount of manipulation could get these dolls to prance down the catwalk without falling flat on their faces. It would move some, the doll would lean a little–she was holding her own and plunk! down like a lead weight. Watching my sister try over and over again on film and the disappointment in her face that it wasn’t working so well was priceless. Another time, my brother Bob was a toddler and he had received this awesome toy helicopter with spinning rotors and flashing lights. That is, awesome until it kept coming towards him and trying to roll up his leg. Watching his little face shrink away in terror and his little body crawl away with his face awash in tears was unforgettable. C’mon bro it’s just a toy, dude!
- Tahoe Brunch. Yeah, I know food again. My mom used to make this stuff called tahoe brunch on Christmas morning. It was a cheesy concoction made with eggs, sausage and bread that smelled amazing and tasted terrific too. It was something that we all looked forward to as it was saved only for this special occasion. Gathering around the table on Christmas morning to share in this feast was something that I will never forget.
- I’ve always loved heading to church on Christmas Eve, and this tradition dates back to when I was a kid. I really love seeing the church transformed with lights, overflowing with poinsettias and the choir belting out the sounds of Christmas Carols. It always makes me feel happy and content. I really miss one of the traditions from my parents church called the giving tree. In the weeks before Christmas a tree was hung with different pieces of paper that had the age and gift ideas for a parishioner that was in need at Christmas time. Folks plucked off these paper ornaments and returned to church with a gift for the person on the tree. I think it’s a nice way to remember it’s not “all about me”.