Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas past

Are you feeling festive? I'm still looking for that perfect holiday moment (it usually comes on Christmas Eve after Santa has done his thing), and I've been thinking about some of my favorite Christmases from my childhood.
Each year the kids would take turns deciding where to put the tree...and what color lights to use (Christian and I still have this debate). My favorite was to have the tree in the downstairs family room, right next to the fireplace, with white lights, so I could have that perfect Christmas Eve moment, watching a fire in the fireplace and enjoying the twinkly white lights on the Christmas tree. My brothers always wanted the tree upstairs in the family room with colored lights. Why my brothers cared where the tree went, I don't know, but its true--they did. (Christian and I compromise with red, green, and white...yellow and blue just don't have anything to do with Christmas!) The worst was when my younger brother got old enough to care, and my Mom would let him put lights wherever he wanted. One year he covered the fireplace with a multi-colored light strand--I felt like nothing was sacred. And then there was the year we used Christmas lights to spell "spam" in our bedroom windows....("sp" in Brian's window, "am" in mine)
I remember the year we got our Nintendo system--the original Nintendo. We played a lot of Ninja Turtles and Dr. Mario (but I don't think we were very good at Ninja Turtles--I certainly wasn't). From then on, a big part of my Christmas mornings were spent watching my brothers play video games. I always liked watching more than playing. I also remember the year I got the complete boxed set of Anne of Green Gables, plus the Emily of New Moon books. Christmas without books just isn't complete, in my opinion.
As we got older, my brother and I spent Christmas Eve playing Santa. Mom would usually try to take a nap after the younger kids had gone to bed, and Brian and I wouldn't trust her to wake up and get it all done in time (one year, we woke up before she had finished wrapping presents....don't let her know that we remember that). We really enjoyed setting the presents out, even writing a letter to the kids from Santa and stamping boot-prints all over the floor around the tree (using soot from the fireplace). We would even take time to take the sound chips out of particularly obnoxious toys before our siblings got their hands on them.
I particularly remember the Christmas I was in 6th grade. That year, as with most years, we didn't have a whole lot of money, but at our ward Christmas party they announced that they would be adopting families to do Secret Santa for, and I really wanted to do that. My parents were very reluctant. I think my Mom knew that we were on the list to be Secret Santa family ourselves, and I heard Dad say that he didn't think he should be doing that kind of thing when he didn't have enough money for his own family. I really wanted to, and I got my way. I think we only actually bought one or two things for them...really, we just served as a collection spot for other families to bring things they had purchased for the needy family. But we also got to deliver the goodies, and that was what I was most excited about. My Dad went with me...and as I recall, he wasn't very happy about it. The family was a single Mom and her 5 or 6 year old daughter. After we brought in the first load, she said thank-you and gave us a plate of cookies. We told her that we weren't done yet. We brought in load after load of stuff--wrapped presents, a garbage bag of un-wrapped "Santa" things, food, and a laundry basket full of household things. Remember, none of this actually came from me, I just got to give it. By the time we were done, the Mom was in tears. I was just having fun. And my Dad was really quiet. I don't think you can have experience like that without being affected. That year, we probably were on the receiving end of some other families Secret Santa project--we usually were. But I'm so glad I could give a little, too.
Lately, we try to keep Christmases small and be grateful for the things we have. Its been fun to go over (and over and over) the Christmas story with the kids and see them starting to catch on. What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?


DeAnn said...

I love this post. So many fun memories!! Can't wait to see you guys.

Deinda said...

I am still bummed that I wasn't born yet (or at least don't remember) when you guys did the "Spam" thing with the lights. And I still remember what you did to my magic dentist wand. =(
It's a pity you weren't here the year Kevin put the vacuum tube on the tree (he said it was a "garland"), along with the mini mittens as hands and a glove on top. I was livid, but looking back, it's a pity you missed out. It was pretty funny. Our family is so weird.