Christmas Day At My House

I should note before I begin that, since my mom passed away in 2000, we haven’t celebrated Christmas like this. However, this is how I remember it and these are some of the traditions that I hope to pass on to my kids.

Two Weeks Earlier

We lived near a huge forest. So my step-dad would get us (my mom, my brother, my step-brother, my step-sister and me) a permit to cut down a live tree. We’d wonder around the forest for hours with hot chocolate in thermos’ trying to find the “perfect tree”. The only rule was that it had to be shorter than my step-sister (who is 5′ even). We always found a SLIGHTLY larger one, but no one cared about the rules at that point. =)

We’d get home that evening, turn on some Christmas music, and we’d all start decorating the tree. Mom would typically make some grilled cheese sandwiches or something else equally warm and yummy. We’d each put our own ornaments on the tree, which my step dad would buy the day after Christmas the year before from Hallmark. So each ornament would remind us of the years past (My stepdad still sends me ornaments to this day – this years was a beautiful breast cancer ballerina!).

After we were done with the tree we’d cuddle up on the couch in blankets with hot chocolate and watch Cool Runnings. For some reason my step-dad loved this movie and thought it the epitome of a Christmas movie. =)

Christmas Eve

Ours didn't look this nice, but we decorated brown paper bags for putting our wrapping paper in

Since as kids my brother and I were so very anxious for Christmas, we just wanted to do SOMETHING Christmas-y the day of Christmas Eve. One year my mom had a BRILLIANT idea. We were to decorate our Christmas wrapping paper bags.

She’d get us the brown paper bags from the grocery store. Then we’d pull out the construction paper, glue, crayons, markers, ect – and Christmas bag creations were born. There would be scenes from Santa, the manger, whatever… each year was different. And if we got through ours too fast and then get “antsy” for Christmas presents again, we’d just have to make my mom or my step-dad a bag.

Around 7pm we’d go to a Christmas Eve service. These services lasted about an hour and a half. The music was always fantastically beautiful. My favorite was always “Mary Did You Know?” – it was also my mom’s, they played it at her funeral.

After the service we’d drive around through the rich neighborhood known for their Christmas lights. We’d get home at around 9:15-ish. We had a rule that we could open up ONE present on Christmas Eve. My mom made sure we didn’t choose to big or too little (she had a habit of wrapping batteries that went with presents to give us more underneath the tree). I always chose one that I couldn’t figure out what it was just from a simple shake or assessing the size of the box.

Our new treasures in tow, we sat down around the TV and watching the Griswald’s Christmas Vacation. Every year we did this, I own the movie now so that I can continue this tradition even though I’m not doing most any of the others anymore.

After the movie we’d all go to bed – with visions of sugarplums and barbies and nintendos dancing in our heads…

(Oh yes, and we left out whatever cookies mom thought Santa would like best – ie whatever cookies SHE wanted most)

Christmas Day

Around 6AM I would wake up. Excited. IT WAS CHRISTMAS MORNING!!!

I’d run out to the living room to see what Santa had left me. Santa always left his presents unwrapped near the tree. It was always the most expensive gift that we got. One year an easy bake over, another year the Barbie dream house, another year a game boy, another year a bike. You get the idea.

Then I would go to my brother’s room to wake him up (He NEVER beat me to Christmas morning, that I can remember). We’d then go and pull stuff out of our stockings. These contained candy, pencils and pens, chapstick, fun socks, little $1 hand held games – and we loved pulling it out of our stocking like each was the greatest thing ever. OMG I LOVE this PEN!

Two things would occur at this junction. If It was late enough in the morning, mom and step-dad would come out while we were opening out stocking and watch us finish. If it was too early (as was the case most Christmases), then my brother and I would skillfully put everything back into the stocking and crawl back into bed and sleep for a few more hours. Then around 7 or 8am we’d go wake up my mom and tell her it was time to start Christmas morning!

She’d watch us pull out all of our stocking stuffers yet again, giving the same enthusiasm that we had the first time. And she’s watch us squee and glee all over our big Santa gifts.

Then it was time for breakfast. My mom would make scrabbled eggs and toast while we were forced to shower and get out of our pajamas.

After we were done scarfing down our food we’d then go into the living room and pass out the presents. Each person would have a pile of their gifts in front of them.

The youngest person would then start, reading who the present was from, then opening it, oooing and awwing and showing it to everyone – and of course putting the wrapping paper in our decorated wrapping papers bags for easy clean up after the event. We’d go around in a circle each person one at a time opening their gift. Sometimes opening two if it was obvious they had a lot more than another to make it so that we all had one gift to open on the last round.

When the presents were done we’d clean up the living room, and we’d do our Christmas present-stash photos. We’d take a picture of ourselves will all the loot we’d gotten. I still LOVE these photos to this day.

Then we’d play with our toys and usually watch another Christmas movie.

Then my mom would start to prepare our Christmas dinner. Mashed potatoes (my favorite), usually a ham or a roast, and of course the fancy Christmas ware that you only get to use once a year.

Here is a picture of my family on Christmas day a long time ago. From the picture it was before my diagnosed with cancer, from the age of me and my brother I’d say it was 1992-1994. I’m the only one in this picture still alive. How scary is that only 15 years later? (And yes, my hair is crimped AND I’m wearing a choker. I was at the HEIGHT of fashion. 😉 )

That was our holiday!

I loved it.

And I miss it.

Holidays make me want a family of my own so that I can start traditions like these again.

2 thoughts on “Christmas Day At My House

  1. This was really sweet to read – it reminded me of my own childhood memories. And I have got to say that chokers were THE thing to wear. I had a few velvet ones that I thought were sooo cool. 🙂 Oh yeah, and the Barbie Dream House? With the elevator that went up and down with a sting pull cord? The BEST!

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