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. :)


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Jonna said...

I loved reading your blog today. The monkey bread is a tradition at our home also. Thank you for sharing your story...I love you...<3