Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Muse: Christmas Memories

Grandmother: One Christmas my Grandmother decided that my siblings and I should understand what Christmas was like in her day. Much to the chagrin of my father and uncle, Grandma won out. My Dad got the tree and my uncle got two buckets of water.  The afternoon was spent threading popcorn on strings, with my brothers eating most of it but we managed to get four long strings to wrap around the tree.We asked, "where are the decorations?" Grandma said there wouldn't be any and we wondered what was so special about this tree.

After dinner we were herded into the parlor where the tree was covered with small white candles. My uncle had the buckets of water close by as Grandpa carefully lit each candle. Our eyes were wide with excitement as each candle took the light.  Grandma said in her day this was their Christmas Tree. As we watched the candles gradually melt down, Grandma read the Christmas Story.

Luckily no water was needed to put out a fire and my uncle and Dad breathed a sigh of relief as each candle went out. To this day when I attend a candlelight service I think about that tree and how special it was for our Grandmother to share this tradition.

Mom:  Christmas was always a time of great anticipation and excitement in our house when I was growing up. On Christmas Eve we would visit Grandpa and Grandma D. and have a huge dinner with aunts, uncles and cousins. I was so happy to go because Grandma D. made chicken noodle soup with home-made noodles for the soup course. It was always soooo good and the only time I ever had it was on Christmas eve. There was always a lot of other food, but it was the soup that I remember the most.

On Christmas morning after laying awake all night listening for Santa I would get up with my brothers and go out to see what he had left for us. Our Santa gifts were always unwrapped and in front of the tree and our stockings were always filled and always had an orange plus some socks and candy. No matter how hard I listened I never heard Santa. We would open our gifts and have breakfast and then the family would pile into the car and head out to the ranch to Grandpa and Grandma L's. There would be more presents under their tree and my aunts, uncles and cousins all had something. It was a huge family gathering and after opening gifts we would sit down to another big meal. There was lots of laughing and talking and great fun. I have always appreciated that I was so close to both sets of grandparents and grew up with them very much present in my life. Now Christmas is much quieter as my children are married and we only get together for Christmas every other year. It just makes those times all that more special.

Daughter: Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  There's just something special about the season.  Even now as an adult, I get giddy like a child as December 25th nears and sad as it departs and we have only the cold winter months ahead of us.

The Christmas season in our home always began with the hunt for the most perfectly shaped Christmas tree.  Every year we traveled to the nearest Christmas tree farm.  My dad would hike the hills until he spotted it--the perfect tree.  And somehow every year it kept getting bigger and bigger until my mom finally put a stop to that.  Once we got the tree home, which never went as smoothly as it should have, we decorated it with all of our special ornaments.  My ornaments were mostly barbie dolls and princesses while my brother's were mostly athletes and cartoon characters.

Christmas morning was always the best.  My brother and I would wake up early and sit at the top of the stairs while we waited for my mom to get ready.  It always seemed like she took forever on those days.  But no one could set foot downstairs until everyone was up and ready.  My brother and I used to try to peer between the railings or down the stairs to see if we could see what Santa had left, but that tricky Santa always had something up his sleeve to make sure we couldn't see what we wanted to see.  Finally mom was ready and we raced down the stairs to see what was hidden in our stockings that no longer hung by the fire, but instead were stuffed to the gills and sitting on the floor.  Santa always left me a note and I relished reading it.

After the stockings were finished, we were on to the pile of presents by the tree.  The order was always youngest to oldest (the best way to do it in my opinion) or oldest to youngest.  And I was always in charge of divvying the presents up.

The last gift to be given is my father's now famous Christmas breakfast.  The steaks are cooked to perfection, the eggs are just a little runny so you can dip your crisp lightly browned hash browns in the yolk and there's always something sweet to finish it off.  It's the perfect end to a perfect morning.

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