Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I'm excited to start some Christmas traditions with my family. Growing up, we had a few of our own. There was no elaborate thing we did but there was little stuff whose memory always brings a smile to my face. I guess they were my own little traditions that I hold so dear to my heart. I was coming downstairs late last night (or very early morning) and there were no lights on anywhere. As I walked down the stairs, a Christmas memory swept over me that led to a big smile at 1:30 a.m. (And that's a big feat!) I remember how I used to sneak downstairs VERY early on Christmas morning before anyone else in the house was awake. In fact, I'm sure my parents just finished their wrapping only shortly before - they used to have a sort of "wrapping party" on Christmas Eve night. I remember hearing them wrap gifts as I lay their, wide awake with excitement and anticipation of the next morning. Anyway, I used to sneak downstairs in the dark of the early morning and my heart would be filled with joy and anticipation. I remember grinning so big and having to suppress my excited giggles. I would peak my head around the corner of the stairwell and squint my eyes to try to make out the gifts under the tree. I would continue my descent into the living room and stand in front of the tree and stare at all of the treasures wrapped up for my sister and I. Sometimes, I would even turn on the lights on the tree to get a better look. And I remember, every year, my mom would say, "Don't get your hopes up too high, it's going to be a small Christmas", and every year, there would be towers of gifts and overflowing stockings. My mom was always so worried we'd be disappointed. It was a tradition. :)

I would TRY to go back to sleep but I'd always be so overly excited about Christmas morning. As soon as I would hear my father up and about (he was always up first), I would spring out of bed and run downstairs. I can almost hear my dad now, "Merry Christmas Suzy!" and he'd give me a big hug. (He was always the best hugger - I got my love of hugs from him. :) ) Then I would just sit there on the couch, listening to Christmas music as my dad made is Christmas morning feast. I would attempt to get my sister up, but she ALWAYS valued her sleep more than I did. My mom would eventually shuffle out of her bedroom in her slippers and nightgown and look at me with tired eyes and a half-asleep smile on her face and say, "Merry Christmas!" We would be allowed to open ONE gift before breakfast, eat breakfast, and then open our chock-full stockings, complete with a clementine on the bottom. Then the gift opening would commence slowly, each person opening one gift at a time. I loved that. We didn't all rip into our presents all at once, we would open one at a time, taking turns, so that everyone could see what the other got and whomever bought the gift could feel that sense of joy when the recipient opened their gift. I don't enjoy it when people just all tear open their gifts at once, it's over in 30 seconds. This slow-opening tradition made us savor the joy of Christmas morning.

These memories are bitter-sweet to me this year, seeing as my dad is no longer with us. But he was always my Christmas morning buddy and I'll never forget that. I sort of miss waking up in my parents' house and I remember feeling a little sad when it was my last Christmas morning at home. (I'm sure it's when I was engaged, and I knew Josh and I would be living together and waking up in our own apartment together the next Christmas...) It was like the end of an era. This year, I'm praying that the joy and happiness of Christmas isn't stifled too much by the sadness of my dad being gone. And I pray that my mom still has an enjoyable Christmas. She'll have to begin a new era herself, making new traditions....without my dad.

This Christmas Eve, we are getting pizza after church, eating it around the Christmas tree, and opening a gift for the two boys - new matching jammies. Each Christmas eve, they will get new pj's so that they look great in the pictures the next day! Then we will read the story of Christmas together and go to sleep. On Christmas morning, I'm making Monkey Bread (it's a big Christmas morning tradition for some people and it looks amazingly yummy - and easy). I'll let them open ONE gift before breakfast, eat the monkey bread, open the stockings, complete with a clementine on the bottom, and then move on to opening gifts - one at a time. I can't wait to savor Christmas morning again. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I guess I grew up

So I'm realizing lately that I guess I'm officially an 'adult' now. When did that happen? When I turned 18? Uh....NO. I was in no way an adult when I was 18. Legally, yes, but in no other way. Was it when I got married? Had kids??? Maybe when I started to relate with slowing metabolisms, Oil of Olay commercials, and body aches. I'm 30....soon to be 31. That is definitely an adult. I mean, in a little over 9 years I'll be 40!?!?!?!?!? WHAT!?!?!?!?!? When did that happen???? It's scary is what it is.

When I think about it, I guess I'm more responsible due to my age, but I don't feel any different. I work with the youth group in my church and I can totally relate to some of the things they are going through. The difference is that now I can look at those situations through 30-year-old glasses, as opposed to hormones, immaturity, and ignorant glasses. (And I mean that nicely...but boy what I chock full of ALL those things at 15 and up....)

I was always sort of silly...and still am. Perhaps that's why I don't feel 'all grown up'. Recently, my older sister pointed out to me that I am rarely ever serious - I'm always sarcastic and making a joke of things. Hm. I guess I didn't realize that I did that. It sort of gave me a complex. Now I look at myself a little differently. Perhaps I'm too immature for 30?!?! I don't know, I sorta like me. I like that I don't take life too seriously. I like that I'm too emotional. I like that I make fun of myself. I like that I act goofy more often than not. I like that I tell people how it is - right to their faces. I like that I'm not afraid to be me. Hm. So perhaps I have grown up - I'm more sure of myself than I ever was. I know who I am and I love me, who cares what anyone else thinks. I'm an old fart, and I look forward to getting older and fartier. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let's do this...

So, after seeing my friend's blog this morning, it made me want to do something about it. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to try my hand at blogging but had never got around to it....like most things. Here I am, sitting in my dining room on my laptop, listening to the sound of rain melt away the freshly fallen snow, wondering what to write about. I'm sure I won't have many followers (or any at all) and that's fine. It'll just be nice to get some things down on pseudo-paper.

Christmas is coming. Big woop. Yes, I'm excited for the celebration part of it, the joy that comes with partying in the name of Jesus' birthday....but I'm also not excited. I'm sort of wishing it would just pass by already and be done with it. I don't have any decorations up yet....probably in the hopes that if I just ignore it, the pain won't have to surface. But alas, today is the day to get out all those decorations and Saturday is the day we get the tree. *sigh*

My dad used to get all dressed up on Christmas Eve and go to church with us (my mom, my sister, and I) - and that was a big deal, he didn't 'go' to church. Then, on Christmas morning, it would usually be me and my dad awake before anyone else. I was always over-excited for Christmas morning and he was ALWAYS up really early (I'm told because of his time in the Navy). I would wake up early and sit on the couch just staring at all the gifts while my father would prepare his Christmas morning feast. My dad wasn't big on cooking any other meals other than breakfast - and at that he was great. I would sit there and try to suppress my excitement (so as not to wake my sister or my mom) and listen to Christmas music quietly playing in the background. I remember the one Christmas my dad got a new TV and I came down to see that he had made a simulation of a snow fall and a Christmas tree and snowman and a "Merry Christmas" greeting on his computer and put it on the TV. He was always so excited about Christmas morning too.

But this Christmas there will be no dad. No "Suzy-uzy-uzy!!!", no "Gimme hugs!", no "Loves ya!", no "Save the paper!". He's gone, God took him away from us this year. My mom is so lonely, my heart breaks for her. I miss him terribly, my heart breaks for me. Even though my dad didn't thoroughly celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, he always made it Merry. This year, there will be an empty stocking, no gifts for "Daddy" under the tree, no random books or games from his store wrapped up for me. Oh Lord I need you to help me through this Christmas. Help my mom, help my sister. I pray that this Christmas is still joyful, albeit less so than normal.

I miss you daddy. Merry Christmas....