A Family Christmas Tradition…..

Despite my long list of recent complaints, Christmas is my favorite time of year, and now that my shopping is finally done, I’ve accepted all the chaos and disappointment that holiday shopping provides, and I can officially sit down (for a few minutes at least) and relax. I can honestly say I am excited for Santa to come….

Christmas was always a BIG deal in my family. Sure, we all got together for Thanksgiving, Easter, and birthdays, but Christmas was ‘the‘ big event when I was a child.

I remember each, and every year as we got older my parents would earnestly warn us that ‘there would not be a lot of presents this Christmas’, that ‘this year was not going to be as big as last’, and that ‘they did what they could’. Yet each, and every year Christmas got better, and better. Not that it was bigger, just better, we got more useful gifts, more thoughtful gifts, not always what we asked for, but always what we needed.

As children Christmas always seemed so huge, and ours were huge compared to others I have witnessed. I remember our family Christmas tradition in detail, a tradition that  still holds strong to this day. Every Christmas Eve we would go somewhere as a family, when we lived in the city it would be skating at city hall, (or even just out for a walk as we grew a little older) and each year upon arriving home we would find two early presents from Santa, who had clearly stopped by while we were out! (I was always so angry that we had missed his visit) These early presents always held beautiful, comfy pajama’s inside, to this day Santa makes a ‘special’ stop early to deliver my children’s Christmas pajama’s. I remember how amazed and excited I was that Santa would come all that way just to bring me an early present, I felt so special, especially when I discovered that he didn’t do this for every one of my friends as well. We would excitedly adorn ourselves in these extra special PJ‘s and snuggle in as a family to drink hot chocolate, and listen to my dad read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, the same story, from the same book, my entire childhood. The pages were so worn that you probably couldn’t actually see the words anymore, but after years of reading, and re-reading, this story my father knew every word by heart I’m sure.

Sometimes it would take my sister and I hours to fall asleep, we would try our best to stay up and catch jolly old Santa Claus sneaking into our house, when we were very young we lived in an apartment and had no fire-place, we were absolutely sure we could catch him as he crept  through the front door, but year after year we would fall asleep long before he ever arrived.

Christmas day was always the same as well, my sister and I would wake at the crack of dawn and sneak out to see if Santa had come to visit yet. In the early years it was acceptable to wake our parents with excitement at such an ungodly hour, but as we grew older my parents usually prefered not to be woken until 7 a.m. During the agonizing hours before we could officially wake our parents my sister and I would pass the time searching  through our stockings, comparing the little gifts, and guessing what was contained in the larger packages under the tree. Our stockings, which I believe were the same ones year after year, were always stuffed full and bulging with useful little things that we would need; pens, pencils, make-up, hair clips, toys, treats, and always an apple and an orange right down in the toe.

Once my parents were awake the fun really started. Each year my father would attempt to get us to eat breakfast before we started opening gifts, and each year he was unsuccessful in his task. Instead he would make himself a tea and have some home-baked shortbread cookies that my grandfather would send to us. They were the most amazing short bread cookies you have ever eaten, just the thought of them makes my mouth water with anticipation… I wish my grandfather was still here to bake them now!

We would open our presents in an organized fashion, with my father handing out the gifts one at a time, I used to hate this method, patience has never been my strong point, but today, with 7 adults, 7 grandchildren, and various other participants in the house, it is far more effective than the chaos that would ensue if left to our own devices. After all our gifts were open my mother (who had started to cook the turkey at 5 a.m.) would carry on with her cooking as we all prepared for a big family feast. My grandparents would come over in the afternoon, and it would be like Christmas morning all over again.

Late afternoon would always consist of a huge feast, turkey and all the trimmings. There would be turkey, potatoes, ham, and stuffing (much like the cookies my grandfather used to make, my mother has the ability to make the most amazing stuffing you will ever taste!) Along with veggies, gravy, and cakes and cookies for desert. Usually you were so full by the time dinner was done, that you would be unable to even more, it was like a turkey coma, and every year is the same.

Sure there were years when our family would fight, argue, or suffer some other ‘family type’ drama, but my parents put a lot of time and effort in to making Christmas special for everyone.

Even now, with 7 grandchildren to cater to, our tradition lives strong. No longer does my father read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to us, I now own at least three copies of my own that I read to my children. No longer are the presents piled sky-high, and packaged perfectly with care on Christmas morning, at my house they are slightly tattered looking and sort of tossed under the tree haphazardly, but the love, care, and family spirit is always there, even through the stress and the chaos the true meaning of Christmas shines strong in my family, and for that I am thankful!


2 thoughts on “A Family Christmas Tradition…..

  1. I’m glad you remembered how important it was for us to have a good Christmas. very well done story,brought tears to my eyes.

    Love Mom

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