I was reading Maggie's blog and she was talking about traditions and instead of leaving a nice little comment over there, I think I managed to knock out my own post. So I thought since things here have been bleak lately, I would talk about my Christmas Traditions as a child. This is after all my favorite holiday, second only to my birthday (which is in 25 days, shameless plug, I know. But I'm going to be 28!), and everything about it makes me bubble inside. I love the lights and the sounds and most importantly the smells! Oh the smells! And egg nog. With lots of brandy. Yummmm.
This Christmas things aren't done to the hilt at our house. We didn't get a tree because of the puppy. I don't think it would last more than a few minutes to be honest and who wants to spend all that money and time on something that will get pooped out in the end? Not I says the cat. We also didn't get very many decorations up outside. In fact, I just the other day took down the scare crow and flowers from fall that were on our front porch. We did manage (and by we I mean me) to get some garland with lights hung over our outside living room window and some lighted nets on a bush out front. But I never did figure out how to get the bush to light, so.yeah. It's kind of sad at our house. Maybe next year we will have an all decked out Christmas. It was hard with Mr. Sparky and the academy to get anything done around the house at all.
I can remember Christmas time at my house growing up as a special time. A time of magic and wonderment and awe that a little baby who was born in a manger was the one who would change my life. The day after Thanksgiving my parents would hall out the bajillionty boxes of Christmas stuff from the garage (no attics in AZ) and plop it in the middle of the living room. As my mom would start to unpack everything I would sit there and take in the smell of pine and evergreen(even if was kind of a dusty smell) and marvel at all the little trinkets and ornaments like I had never laid eyes on them year after year.
Once my brother's were out of the house (they are 11 and 13 years older than I so that happened while I was still fairly young) we would have a tree decorating night and travel around to everyone's house putting ornaments on the trees. We always started at my brother's house and worked our way through my aunt and uncle's and then to the grand finally at my parents where there would be hot spiced cider and egg nog with brandy along with some treats we had baked earlier that day. There was only one rule - you had to have the lights and garland(if that's your thing) on the tree before everyone got there. Then we would come and hang the ornaments. It was a wonderful time, even if we only did it for a few years. Some how helping everyone in our family decorate for Christmas made it that much more special. There was always some story that would be told about the year before when someone would do something goofy, either because they just ARE goofy or there was too much brandy involved!
Christmas Eve would come and we would all dress in our best and I would sit in the bathroom and watch my dad get ready. It fascinated me to watch him shave and get ready for a special night. And he would always let me put the finishing touches on him - his foo foo dust (it was really cologne, but to a little girl it was magic), which was gently patted onto his face and then somehow I always ended up getting tickled after that. Not too sure how that happened, but again, with magic anything can happen. Then he would take his watch and rings from his chest on his dresser and let me help put them on. That chest was magic, it held all sorts of interesting things that I coveted - his pocket knife, his money clip with the turquoise stones on it, a book of matches, some mints still in the wrapper. If I was lucky, I might have even gotten a few coins out of it.
My dad and I would inevitably be waiting for my mom to finish getting ready, watching It's a Wonderful L*fe in black in white while we waited or singing Christmas carols with the radio. My mom would pop out at the top of the stairs, always looking like she had just stepped out of a beauty pageant. Hair, make-up and nails done to perfection, dressed up so beautifully, and never failing - always putting on the last earring as she walked down the stairs. That moment was always worth the wait.
Everyone would show up at my parent's house, dressed in their best, dropping presents under the tree and taking a quick taste of mom's clam chowder that was simmering on the stove before they got caught. After piling into the cars we would make our way to church, the anticipation of O Holy Night and the Christmas story being read could be felt throughout, never dwindling. And my favorite part - they would dim the lights and one by one every being in the church would have their candle lit and the glow was surreal. I would close my eyes and listen to the voices singing praise to the new born king and wondering what it would have been like, that first Christmas so many years ago.
Things are different now. We've all gotten married, started our own families and traditions, and some have moved away. Yet, these memories will always bring a smile to my face and a lump to my throat. In fact, tears are accompanying this post. Remembering what it was like as a child with the magic and anticipation, waiting for what felt like months between the first day of winter break and Christmas Eve. I miss that feeling, but somehow, putting everything on "paper" makes it all very real again.