Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I always find myself pulled back to my childhood during Christmas. Even though most of the ones I can remember are ones when my parents had divorced, I know my mom did what she could through working two jobs to make our Christmas the very best it could be. We didn't have the latest and greatest things like our friends did who lived on the same street, but I do remember we spent those days leading up to Christmas with a sense of excitement that is missing today.

I don't recall making tons of cookies in the kitchen with my mom, probably due in part to working so hard to provide a Christmas for my brother and myself, yet I do recall the way we used to get excited to pull all our decorations down from the rafters and begin to decorate the house for my mom. I remember the days of real tinsel and not the stuff they try and pass off as tinsel now a days. I remember those colored strands of garland that we would try to drape in OCD like loops around our tree. I also remember the ornaments before the days of Hallmark, the blown glass kind, in all kinds of brilliant colors and shapes; the ones we would want to pass up later on but now as an adult, I'd wish we'd kept. I now search antique stores looking for those to add to my tree. There is something to be said for those old Christmas traditions.

I remember the outside lights on our house were the ones with the multi-colored bulbs you had to screw in after you put up the light strands. They also made loud pops when you tossed them into the street after launching them high into the air. I remember sitting back on the couch in the evening before the days of DVD and Blue Ray players or even VCR's and having to wait for your beloved Christmas classics to come on; A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and especially The Year Without A Santa Claus. If you missed it the night and time it was shown, you missed it for the year. So we waited with anticipation for those nights.

I remember those beloved Christmas records too, Bing Crosby's White Christmas or even Elvis Presley, belting out Blue Christmas. All was right in the world. I remember spending hours with the Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog that used to come out just before Christmas and looking all day long at putting together just the perfect Christmas list for my parents. I remember moonlight sales at Woolworth's much like the Black Friday sales now, but without all the madness and pushing and shoving. Even the deals you used to get at stores like Mervyn's before they closed that offered you free gifts with purchase so you could really make your money go further. Now you're lucky to get Free Shipping from your online retailers.

Then the anticipation of waiting all night long for Santa to come along and bring our presents. It was honestly so hard to sleep those nights, waiting with baited breath to see if that noise you just heard was Santa out by the fireplace. Of course, there were those nights when my brother, Mike and I would quietly sneak into our living room to see if Santa had come yet only to be disappointed to still see empty stockings and no presents under the tree yet. We had to force ourselves back to sleep and hope we hadn't messed anything up yet.

Morning were the best in that we would race into our mom's room to wake her up while it was still dark out proclaiming that "Santa had come!!!" We would sit inpatiently by the tree trying to read the names of the packages under the tree to see who had the biggest or more elaborately decorated package. The best part was when presents were too big to wrap and instead were adorned with bows, like bikes!!! Christmas breakfast and dinner were the best in addition to playing with our toys or even trying on new clothes or racing outside to play with our friends. Some memories are just too good to ever forget!

That's why when I am decorating my tree or listening to Christmas music on the radio, a smile will cross my face. I'm remembering a fond memory from long ago and it takes me back to my childhood or even a time when that child-like quality of Christmas magic still exists. It's a time when troubles truly do seem so far away and goodness and mercy prevail, and once more all is right in the world.