My Mom grew up on a dairy farm, so her family opened their Christmas presents every Christmas Eve. Apparently the cows didn’t care that it was Christmas morning. They still wanted to be milked. Go figure.
I always loved telling this story when I was a kid. Somehow this story made it okay that our family never participated in the traditional Christmas morning depicted in movies; i.e., children wake up early on Christmas morning, shake Mom and Dad awake, then run down the steps and scramble to open their presents. I liked it this way though. We had our own traditions.
We successfully carried on Mom’s Christmas Eve tradition every year that I’ve been alive until last year. Which I have to say I have no complaints with, since 27 years is a pretty good run to keep a tradition going.
All families grow and change, so those childhood traditions tend to change in turn. Many of us will always hold those favorite memories of holiday traditions close to our hearts as we get older and hope to pass these traditions on to our own children. Here are a few of my fondest memories of holiday traditions with my family.
We always had an open table at Thanksgiving. Our immediate family is pretty small, so we would always invite any friends that didn’t have their own family gatherings to attend to join us for the day. The more the merrier I say– it was fun to have a full house. Anyone was welcome to come give thanks with us and this made me realize at a young age how blessed I am to have such a great family, but also how much it means to others when you reach out and include them on a day where they otherwise may have been lonely.
Dad and I would always go pick out the Christmas tree together at one of those tree farms where you pick out your tree and then saw it down yourself. Well, Dad was the one using the saw for the most part I’d say. We’d bring the tree home and decorate it with Mom. He would help with the ornaments to some extent, but what he really liked doing was putting on the tinsel. Mom would always have to tell him not to put it on in gobs. “One string at a time, Dad.”
My brother is 11 years older than me. Every Christmas Eve he would come home before our family dinner and use Mom’s wrapping paper. (Who hasn’t done this?) We would always save the cardboard tubes from the wrapping paper, tape them up with almost an entire roll of strapping tape (much to Mom’s dismay), and then go outside to duel. I guess you could say whoever’s “sword” stayed in tact the longest won. The cardboard was usually shredded to pieces by the time we were finished though, so it was hard to tell.
I remember Mom making a birthday cake for Jesus when I was four, and we would always talk about the real reason for Christmas being Jesus’ birth before opening presents. I’m pretty sure I understood there was no Santa by the time I was two, but I tried not to ruin it for all of my friends until they got a little older. 🙂 After we opened presents, I always liked to lay underneath the tree and look at the lights through the branches. Sometimes Mom would lay and look up at the lights with me. I never wanted to get up. I could stare at the Christmas tree all night, and sometimes I did.
My memories from the holiday’s aren’t of favorite Christmas presents, they are of times spent with my family. I had the ugliest stocking that had my name written on it in black magic marker. Every year I refused to get rid of it, no matter how many times Mom tried to buy me a new, pretty stocking. The ugly red stocking was mine, and always had been, so there was no replacing it.