Monday, November 27, 2006


As I read Alissa's post in "Life's Little Adventures" about her Christmas memories, it started me thinking about my own.

When I think of our family holiday celebrations over the years, I have certain memories. I remember traditions from my childhood that I tried to carry over when I had a family of my own, and then we added some of Terry's, and then we created some of our own.
I grew up in a very close family who did up all the big holidays in a big way. We got new Easter outfits every year, complete with hats, purses, and new dressy shoes. And we got to wear our Easter outfits to school on the last day of the year. Each person's birthday was a very big day. We were the honoree of the day, doing no chores and getting to pick the day's menu and the kind of cake we wanted. At Halloween, my mom made our costumes, and we were out for several hours carrying big brown grocery bags around the neighborhood collecting candy. We always came home with FULL bags, and nobody thought anything about elementary school kids going all around the neighborhood unattended. We were safe. Christmas was perhaps the biggest holiday of the year, and we would put up the tree a week or so before Christmas and leave it up until Epiphany. Until the big day, we would sit in the room with just the tree lights on and either sing Christmas carols or just gaze at all the brightly wrapped presents. We had better not be caught touching them, either! We would exchange family gifts on Christmas Eve, and then open gifts from Santa on Christmas morning, all the way up until we were married.

Marriage changed some of the traditions as Terry and I blended our ideas. None of the holidays were as important in Terry's family as they were in mine, but some of our traditions coincided. Like most newly married couples, we had to figure out how to celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas in three homes instead of just one. We eventually found a routine we liked, and we started establishing our own traditions, especially once our family started to grow.
I think our Easter and Halloween traditions mirrored the ones I remembered from my childhood, except that the kids didn't want to be dressed up for Easter like I had, and on Halloween, I took the kids out trick-or-treating as the world became less safe. Being an elementary school teacher, I was big on decorating, as you may read in Alissa's post. But when it came to Christmas, I was outdone by Terry, who for several years rivaled Clark Griswold for decorating enthusiasm. Because his family was not very close, he was determined that our family would be, and he went all-out at Christmastime. He went along with me when I insisted we would always have a real tree for our main tree, but over the years, we have added many small artificial trees, one decorated with ornaments the kids made and ornaments students gave to me. He has a huge collection of Santas, and I have angels and snowmen. However, it was interesting to read that Alissa's clearest recollections are of the Christmas bell and the nativity scene, both of which we bought at K-Mart for our first Christmas together. We selected that nativity scene because it reminded me of the one we had when I was growing up. The music box was a bonus addition. Eventually, our collection of Christmas decorations grew to about 30-35 large plastic storage cartons and became rather unmanageable. In recent years, we have only gotten out 6 or 8 boxes of decorations. Some of the more elaborate things have remained packed away, and we planned to go through it all and see what the kids wanted before giving it away last summer. Somehow we never got around to it. Next summer we'll try again. It's time to downsize, and maybe they can have a piece of their childhood to add to their decorations, but not the nativity scene, not yet. It is still an important part of our decorations, as are the tree ornaments, some of which came from my childhood. I hope Alissa can find a nativity scene that works for her. I hope Doug and Chip start creating their own traditions, too. But I still expect as many of them as can get here to help put up our tree. Chip needs to put on the lights. Doug and Kellie and I ( and hopefully, Shira and Aiva) can put on the ornaments, and Kellie and Terry can put on the icicles. She is the only person he will allow to help him with that. And when Alissa comes home, she can arrange the nativity set,even if it is Christmas day! Holidays would be no fun without the kids, would they?


Anonymous said...

I wasn't asking for it, you know. I just like it. And I'm too picky for my own good.

Sue said...

My children still look for certain ornaments on the tree (that should have been tossed long ago) They expect Mom and Dad to keep decorating like they did years ago. I have about 25 boxes and it takes forever to do it. I'm working on it, or at least I should be instead of blogging!

Melissa said...

Hi Alissa's mom. I'm Issa. I told your daughter to um...steal the nativity you may want to hide it from her. ;)

Funny, I've always heard about people just opening gifts of Christmas, it seemed the norm and we were always weird for opening them on Christmas Eve. I'm glad to see we weren't the only ones.

Welcome to blogging.

Motherkitty said...

Hi, Nancy. I'm here from Alissa's blog. Welcome to the blogosphere. I think you should tag those Christmas items for the people you want to leave them to so there won't be any mistakes later on. Or, you can give Alissa the nativity scene right now or you could take Melissa's advice and she could just "steal" it from you. Just kidding!!!

It's great that you and your hubby have such wonderful traditions for the holidays that you have passed on to the kids. That's what making memories is all about.

Am bookmarking you.