Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Tradition

If you've been around awhile you probably already know that I'm big on traditions.  I guess that's because my childhood was full of traditions and I enjoyed them all so much.  Part of what I do with my kids are traditions from my childhood and others are traditions we've created together.  Regardless of their origin, they're all so much fun for my kids and for ME!!!!  So This year we're adding ANOTHER tradition.  That is to watch as many of the ABC 25 Days of Christmas movies as possible.

Some of the movies aren't actually Christmas movies (Toy Story 2, Harry Potter??? what??? ) so I think there are a few we won't watch.  That coupled with the fact that life is just darn crazy and we couldn't possibly fit them all in, but I think it will be fun to try.  One day my kids will say, remember when we used to watch the 25 days of Christmas movies and we'd count down to Christmas watching all our favorite movies.  Ok it's my dream, let me live it.  Honestly though, the hope is to create memories for my kids that they'll hopefully want to continue with their own children.

Here are some of my fondest memories/traditions from the holiday season when I was a child:

Black Friday shopping with my Dad: We'd spend all day shopping for the perfect gift for ourselves from my grandmother (a pair of Jordache jeans or a Liz Claiborne purse).  We'd follow that up with the lighting of the Circle tree in downtown Indianapolis, and topped our day off with a Pacers' basketball game.   This tradition was always the start of the holiday season.

Putting up the Christmas Decorations:  This was a big production in our family and it seemed to me like it took all day (not complaining).  There was so much to do from hanging tinsel on the tree (sorry mom can't do that one), to arranging the manger pieces, setting up and playing with the electric train, and arranging the bulbs on the sugar plum tree.  To this day, holiday decorations still get me excited and make me happy.

Sitting on Santa's lap:  Believe it or not, I remember sitting on Santa's lap every year.  I'm not sure where we went and if we always went to the same place (something tells me no), but I remember the feeling I had every year.  You see, Santa seemed liked such a figment of my imagination so when I got to see him IN PERSON it felt so surreal.  I remember always being so taken back by the warmth of his body as I sat on his lap, and how he looked just like all the pictures I had seen.  I remember one year being mesmerized by Santa's beard and playing with it until my plastic Santa Claus ring (this was the memento for sitting on his lap) got stuck.  My heart got warm and I panicked wondering how I'd get it out.  Little did I know, his heart was probably racing too at the thought of losing his beard as I walked away.  Anyway,  I knew there were "helper" Santas, but every year I was convinced I had seen the "real" one.  My mom always agreed.

Waiting for the firetruck with Santa:    I don't know when this happened, but it always seemed to be the night Rudolph was playing.  We'd sit in the living room watching our TV show and wait anxiously for the sound of the Christmas music playing from the fire engine.  We'd peer out the window to see Santa atop the fire engine waving to all the children in the neighborhood.  I swear we never went out to actually see Santa, but my sister insists we did.  Maybe I was more in awe of the experience of seeing him for the first time and that's what sticks in my head.

Making Christmas Cookies:  I'm going to be honest.  There were LOTS of cookies in our house at Christmas.  To me it seemed like they never ended.  I'm not sure how most of them got made.  I guess my mom stayed up at night or made them during the day while I was at school.  Nevertheless, we were always involved in one batch.  THE SUGAR COOKIES.  My mom would cut them out and hand us each a tray and we went through the process of decorating each one with sugar sprinkles, jimmies and red hots.  Each snowman, reindeer, star, bell, and Santa were given special attention.  It must have taken hours but my mom was patient and let us take our time with each one.  It seemed like we did 100 cookies apiece.

Spending time with my family:  Perhaps this is one of my fondest memories.  As a young girl we lived just one block from my mother's parents.  We'd go to their home often for family get togethers, so that wasn't unusual, but Christmas always had a special feel.  My Grandmother had a "fancy" tree in her hallway.  Something tells me it had birds on it (mom?), but whatever it was I knew it was something I shouldn't touch and I thought it was so wonderful.  Fancy things for a fancy person (my grandmother).  One day I'd be fancy I thought.   So yes, Christmas at my grandmothers, it was all full of laughter, smoke (Kool cigarettes), and chaos.  I made special place cards at everyone's spots.   They were so much fun and usually poked fun at the person whose spot they marked.  Everyone would laugh at my creations and I felt special.

Waking up on Christmas morning:  Before I woke up, I had to sleep and I swear that was the hardest thing.  I was sure I heard jingle bells on the roof, I was sure I saw hoof prints in the snow, I was sure if I held my eyes open long enough I'd catch a glimpse.  I never could keep my eyes open and I never did actually see Santa, but he always came.  It wasn't a given you know!  Before we'd head down the stairs Christmas morning we'd have to sit at the top while my mom checked to see if Santa had come.  I'd anxiously await at the top of the stairs praying he'd thought I had been good enough.  Christmas morning was always better than I expected it would be.  Even when I got older and knew there was no Santa, my mom always went above and beyond despite her promises that there would be less this year.  I never once, EVER, felt disappointed on Christmas morning.   I can even remember my stocking.  I thought it was HUGE.  It was always busting at the seams, overflowing with goodies (I'm looking at you giant candy cane and Lifesaver story book).  It wasn't until years later, as an adult, that I realized my stocking was actually kind of small (especially by today's standards).  I was shocked because to my child's eyes it was HUGE.  Thanks mom for giving me such special memories for such a special day.  I know you made a lot of sacrifices to give us everything you did.

As time wore on,  I thought I outgrew most of the traditions with my parents.  I'm sure it saddened them when the fire truck passed by and no one was crowded around the window, or when we complained about having to decorate cookies, and threw the tinsel on the tree with a little less enthusiasm.  Now, as an adult, I realize I didn't outgrow all the traditions.  They were there all along, just hiding behind a tough teenage exterior, tucked in for a long slumber.  Now they're flourishing once again with my own kids, and that my friends, is the greatest Christmas gift of all.

What is your fondest holiday childhood memory?  
Do you carry on the tradition (or plan to) with your children?  


robringer said...

I love Christmas tradition. It was always one of the times that I always looked forward to as a kid. As an adult now with a young child I can't wait till he is old enough to understand and love christmas. I get giddy thinking about it. I guess I am just a big kid at heart.

acspartan said...

Watching the Grinch cartoon is a big one for us, I still love seeing A Christmas Story every year. We are doing the Elf on the Shelf in our house and kids LOVE it! - Amanda

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