Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Past

It is hard to believe that it is already that time of year again. The time of year where we put out the twinkling little lights, decorate the trees, set out the Santa collection, and begin thinking about holiday shopping. As a child, it seemed that it took forever for December to roll around each year, but as an adult, it seems that another Christmas holiday comes upon us all too quickly. Where does the time go?

As a mama , I always seem to long to have done Christmas better at the end of every holiday season. I long to have made decorating more fun, to have put more thought in to my gift giving, to have watched more Christmas movies with my children, and to have drank more cocoa while snuggling on the couch. I long to have been a little nicer and made more Christmas memories that my children will cherish as they grow.

In thinking on this yesterday, I realized that even at the young age of 27, I cannot remember all that much about my childhood Christmas' growing up. Sadly, I cannot remember Christmas with my dad's side of the family at all. I remember bits and pieces from photographs I have seen, such as what Granny's tree looked like and who was there, but that seems to be about it. Other things I remember about Christmas as a child are two particular Santa gifts (a baby doll wearing pink overalls with teddy bears on the front and a chalk board), going to pick out the family Christmas tree (we always got a live one), decorating the tree while listening to Alabama's Christmas CD, opening our stockings on Christmas morning from youngest to oldest before we ate breakfast, going to my Grandma's and opening gifts one at a time, so we could all see what the other received, instead of flying through it in a mad frenzy, taking family photos by the tree, and eating a Christmas lunch. I remember Aunt Bill's Brown Candy and sausage stuffing. Most Christmas afternoons, we went to see a movie.  I can remember is lying awake one Christmas Eve and being too excited to sleep, because the next day Santa would be bringing me the baby doll that I had desperately wanted for the entire year. As a child, it does not get any better than that! I want that same excitement for my own children as we go through each holiday season, year after year.Those are all of the details that I remember. Good memories, but not nearly enough.

Thinking about Christmas past, makes me want to bottle up all of the joy and magic of each holiday season, so that I can give it to my children when they are grown. I want our family traditions and memories ingrained in their minds, so that all they have to do is close their eyes and it comes back to them. I know it is not that simple, as fighting forgetting is a natural part of aging. I have decided to record here, a few of the traditions we have started since becoming a family, so that when our children are grown, they can look back and have an easier time remembering than I do.

* We put up our outside Christmas lights some time in November, when the weather is still a bit warmer. I LOVE outside lights. Decorating outside was not something my family did growing up, and if we did, it was either me doing it by myself, or me begging my mom to help me reach the high places. I LOVE pulling into a twinkling yard, so this is always something we make a big deal out of for the children (or maybe for me!).

* We always decorate the inside of our home the weekend after Christmas, and I am a huge fan of putting up as many trees as possible. We have one in the family room with family and homemade decorations, a tree decorated with red and gold in the dining room, and the girls have a little pink tree in their bedroom.

* Each year, my mom gives the children a personalized ornament, so that when they are grown and move out, they have a collection of their very own ornaments to take with them. She has also started the tradition of getting them a dancing and singing Christmas collectible, and those are a favorite to play with each year when we get them out.

* Some of our favorite decorations include the nativity scene, my Santa collection (I have one for each year of marriage), and our Christmas village. I also set a basket by the couch to hold our holiday story books, so that they will be fresh and fun to look at each year.

*We started the tradition of The Elf on the Shelf, and the girls LOVE it! The story is precious, and every morning the girls are so excited to see where the elf is hiding that day. We named our elf SAM (Secret Agent Man), because it is his job to tell Santa how the girls behave each day.

* We go see Santa every year, and this year started the tradition of writing him a letter and mailing it to him at Macy's Department store.

* On Christmas Adam, the night before Christmas Eve, we eat a Fettuccine Alfredo dinner, we decorate sugar cookies to leave for Santa, and we read The Night Before Christmas.

* So far, Christmas days always seem to be a bit different! We are in the process of trying to decide how to balance celebrating with each of our families, as well as creating traditions for our own small family of four (soon to be five!).

* If we can, on Christmas night, we go to one of Boss' mom's sisters' house, where his large extended family gathers for a nice meal and a gift exchange. I LOVE big families!!

This year I tried to do more things ahead of time, before December actually arrived. I started shopping a few months ago, I sent out fall holiday cards instead of Christmas ones, and I made lists, lists, lists, instead of just winging it. I adore this time of year. I adore the excitement and magic that live in my children's eyes for the entire 25 days, and I pray that we are creating memories that will last us all for a lifetime.

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