It’s just about that time! For me, one of the best days of the year! Christmas!
I understand that some of you may not celebrate this day, but in my family we have always made this an extra special day. In my house growing up, Christmas was not a particularly, overly, happy time. I was raised by a single mother, who was battling cancer a lot of my childhood years. The holiday season was often difficult for her, as I have come to understand more as I too have been a single mother most of the child raising years.
But even in the midst of hard times, lean times, and illness, we found a way to make this season a special time of family and friends. I don’t remember the hard moments the way my mother surely does, instead I recall what she instilled in us as memories and traditions.
As I prepare for the coming weekend, the festivities of the day, I think about the ways we celebrated as children and what traditions old and new I have carried into raising my own children and thought I would share these with you.
- Each year we would hunt for a tree, helping her set it up as best as two little kids could, listening to Christmas carols as we hung the lights and decorations. And now each year, my kids and I put up a tree (fake one for too long now) and spend a few hours without electronics, having put these away as we decorate and of course while listening to Christmas music.
- We were not allowed to wake our mother up (my younger brother and I) till we had accomplished a couple things. The tree lights must be turned on. Coffee had to be made. And if memory serves, we had to wait till at least 7am to wake her up. Many of these we have carried over into the present day. Although my children are older now, so I think I am the first one awake! But coffee is still made, hot chocolate as well for them. Lights and music on.
- Presents are slowly passed out to each family member, one at a time. We have each taken a turn throughout the years, getting to playing Santa. This year is my nieces turn! Present opening can take a long time, as we go round robin one at a time.
- We created a tradition when I was married, that even all these years later, although modified we still practice. My kids’ dad would make homemade cinnamon rolls to eat early Christmas morning. For years he did this, starting before we had kids. As we no longer celebrate holidays together, my sis-in-law began a new tradition a few years ago; making homemade french toast. Each Christmas morning, we fill our bellies eating her yummy food. We even pause present opening!
- And my favorite part of all is opening stockings! Each year we save this for last, after dinner. We always opened stockings as kids, but we didn’t wait, it was just part of the presents, but in raising my children, I wanted to find a way to make them a special part. It’s ironic that part of the reason stockings are so fun to me, is from my first marriage, when my ex-husband placed little tiny diamond earrings in the stocking toe. The memory of that has always made me smile as it was an extra surprise after all the other gifts were opened. I have since made stockings an integral part of gift giving. And we enjoy doing them later in the evening, prolonging the gift giving all day.
These are just a few of the ways we make this day a special event. It is a day filled with smiles, laughter, and family. It’s one day we all come together. Turn on Its a Wonderful Life movie and just enjoy the moment. Creating memories.
I hope you have a wonderful celebration the next few days. From my family to yours… Merry Christmas!