December 21, 2010

christmas memories.

Here we are, staring down the last three full days until Christmas Eve. Where did the season go? The preparation I thought I would have? The gifts under the tree I thought would all be purchased and wrapped with pretty little bows. Where did all that go? Out the window I guess. I didn't even get a chance to get together Christmas cards for my friends and family. No, I haven't been all bah humbug, or even a Grinch in the least, I've just a very busy bee I guess. Busy with work, with life, with birthdays - oh MY the birthdays this time of year. In our immediate circle of friends and family alone there have been 7 birthdays between Thanksgiving and now. This tidbit alone is enough to make me feel OK about being a bit behind in finishing my Christmas shopping. It's difficult to get that finished while birthday shopping for others.

How are the rest of you fine ladies and gents doing with all your holiday plans? I know many of you have been blogging your hearts out about Christmas. I must say Shana has been on the ball over at her blog with her days of Christmas count down. Even Salt has popped her head in to keep us up to date on all her holiday cheer. Not to be out done Hotpants has given us the secrets to what her little babies will be finding under her tree and so many more of you have kept my Christmas Spirits high and my feeling like a slacker points right up there as well. All "letting it slide" aside, I've been rather jolly this year. For the first time in two years since my mother passed away I've felt semi normal during the holidays this year. That's not to say I haven't lost it a few times, but in the end I carry with me the memories that she always made possible this time of year. I thought what better way to blog about the holidays than to share memories that always make this time of year so special to me, and in turn ask you to share some of yours as well.

Christmas Memories
Wish big! • via

Some of my fondest memories of this season involve my mother, she was always so prepared. No matter how frazzled she may have been on the inside trying to give my father and I the perfect Christmas she rarely let it show.  It all started with the tree. We would walk for hours from tree farm to tree farm to find the perfect tree. Long needles and taller than all of us - it had to touch the ceiling and the "Christmas Chicken" [dove] had to have enough room to fit on top. My birthday is the 1st of December and many years into my teens we would celebrate with a tree decorating slumber party, those were memorable times but I think my most favorite and cherished thoughts were the years when she started to teach me how to decorate the tree. I will always blame my perfectionist ways with tree decorating on her. When I was young child the tree was a huge array of blue and silver hues. I can remember the Christmas balls like it was yesterday in the perfect shade of bright blue. Our lights were always white. ALWAYS white.

This ain't yo momma's tree • via

My mother hated multi colored strands, I used to be upset that our tree didn't blink, or have twinkles or different colors, but once I got a bit older I completely appreciated my mother's attention to not only detail but her taste as well. Never one to leave any detail out, my mother always made sure my yearly creations made it back on the tree. From the popsicle stick sled to the toilet paper tube drummer boy, they were always there, front and center. While many of these ornaments didn't survive over the years, a few did and they are ones I have since acquired and that mean the most to me. After I grew out of my crib, my mother transformed the mobile charms into ornaments. Holly Hobby like friends all hung around the tree each year and still do to this day at my home. I plan to hopefully carry on this tradition with my own children one day. Each year I can remember picking out different brass ornaments, having them engraved with my name and placing them on the tree. Bonus points go to the ones we have that actually have the date they were made on them. I like those the most.

Being an only child has it's perks. On Christmas day there was no waiting to see what each kid got around the tree - I could race down the steps, jump to the presents and rip them to shreds without worrying about what anyone else was doing. All eyes were on me. Mom and Dad had already exchanged gifts and it was my time to shine. Santa's gifts always came in different paper, after all why would Santa have the same paper as the grocery store, where my parents purchased theirs. And my stocking was always filled to the brim. There was always a small box or two, filled with sparkles from my father.  I soon learned these gifts came from him, and usually from the jewelry store he always shopped at, again the paper never matched anything else. I was a bit sad yesterday when my father called me to let me know I wouldn't be getting sparkles this year. Truth be told I really don't need anymore. And it wasn't the lack of sparkle that upset me. After 34 years of birthdays and Christmas, I've gained quite a collection of fine jewelry, but he informed me that the sweet man he used to shop with had passed away in October and his store was currently closed for mourning. It's sad to think that such an icon in our lives and my father's favorite shopping option for friends, family and loved ones was gone. He's been shopping there for over 30 years and I can trace just about every fine item of gold back to that man's store, his talent and his art. I had only met him once, and told him I was obsessed with unicorns. I can remember picking out a very small, dainty charm that was a Unicorn head made to look as if it was made of lace. I still have this charm. It's by far my favorite. Over the years, my father and this man became close friends and they had both always marveled over how my taste changed. From gold to white gold, from unicorns to dolphins and from dolphins to owls. I can trace my jewelry box and it's contents all the way back to my 2nd birthday, it's pretty amazing. It's sad to see he's gone, and that a Christmas tradition I always looked forward to will have to live in my memories.

I bet as a child you can remember your mom or grandmother or some family memeber going nuts over Christmas cookies and baking, can't you? I don't know if there are many mom's that went as nuts as my mom did. Thankfully she never had to bake for holiday parties at my school - I think that may have been the straw that would break the camels back on that. But cookies... my GOSH did she make a lot of cookies. Any kind you could imagine, I still don't know how she did it. Cookies for us, cookies for friends, cookies for my grandmothers and family and teachers and cousins. It was crazy how many cookies this woman would make every year. And even crazier how many I would eat ever year!!! She actually had to make extras of certain kinds because my father and I would eat them all! I make cookies each year, but I will never top my mother. After about 4 different recipes I loose my steam and I never carve out enough time to make them all. This year I have all the ingredients and they've been in the pantry for two weeks. I hope to make a dent in them this week, but it's hard to say - those last minute Christmas gifts are still looming over me.

nom, nom, nom • via

I have about a million more memories I could share, but I will leave you with one more, it's my favorite of all time....

Every Christmas, well until I was probably about 12 - 14 years old my mother would tuck me in. After all the lights were off, I had placed out cookies for Santa and all the animals [we had 2 dogs and 2 cats] were snuggled with me in bed, my mother would crack open my bedroom window from the top. She'd tell me goodnight and warned me not to stay up too late or Santa wouldn't come. She explained to me when I was younger that maybe if we left the window cracked I'd be able to hear Santa's sleigh bells coming and know to stay in my room and be quite so that he wouldn't leave without dropping off my gifts. Every year I would crank my ears to listen for bells, and I'm sure every year I would drift off after staying up way too late. I swear one year I heard the bells and it took all I had to say in my bed. I wanted to jump out of bed, run down the hall and scream for Santa, my parents and anyone else that was close enough to hear... but I didn't, I laid paralyzed in my bed, not moving a muscle until I thought the coast was clear.  This was also the year I started my own personal tradition... After I thought it was safe, I snuck down the hall on the creaking wood floors, down the steps and into the living room for my first sneak peek of my bounty for the year. It was awesome!!! The Christmas tree lights bounced off the bright paper and I remember the vision like it was yesterday. I figured I had already done too much by peeking son instead of shaking, rattling or breaking any gifts I ran back up stairs without touching a thing and waited for the sun to rise. I learned years before this night that 4 AM is not an acceptable time to wake two parents who had spent the evening drinking wine while I slept, celebrating their own Christmas together. After this year of my first "peek" - every year after that until my parents divorced I would sneak down to look at all my gifts and survey everything, and often times plan my attack on the gifts, which I would open first, if mom and dad said it was OK. You know how they like to leave the best for last and all.

I'm always dreaming of a white Chrsitmas • via

So tell me....
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory or a never ending tradition? Please share for all to read in the comments section!


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Hutch said...

I don't know what it is about all these holiday posts, but they're getting me emotional. Yours is no different. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs looking down at the tree and just waiting there for everyone to wake up.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

My mom has given me an ornament for my tree every year since I moved out. As a kid, we always had flashing colored lights.

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

Hutch I'm the same way... blubbering each time I read something touching.

Hotpants you lucky duck! I love that your mom does that AND that she gave you different colored lights. You know what's funny... I only use white lights now ;) haha

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

My mom would always do the 'Santa' cookies bit, when we went downstairs there would be a couple bites out of the cookies we left - so fun! I swear one year I heard the reindeer and sleigh land on our roof - I was so excited to wake up!

Natalie said...

I'm blubbering away with Hutch.. I've cried at almost every Holiday memory post I've read. There's just something so touching about this time of year.

I can remember as a very young kid I found a strand of plastic clown colored lights leftover from the 70's. My grandparents raised me & it was quite obvious they never threw anything away. I begged & begged to use those lights. Finally one year, they caved. My grandmother allowed me to decorate her tree with those hideous lights. I was so happy. Now, as an adult with my own tree that I want to look just so? I realized just how much they loved me to let me put those lights on the tree.

Cathy said...

This was beautiful! Such wonderful memories of Christmas and your mother. How sad about the jewelry store. We have a jewelry store like that in my home town. All my mom's jewelry is from there and I even had the jeweler custom design and make my wedding ring.

I have two younger brothers. I remember waking up Christmas morning; whoever woke up first would wake up the other two kids and then we'd run to the tree and shake our presents. THEN we'd go wake up mom and dad. I seem to remember my parents always wearing robes over their pajamas. My dad's was maroon and my mom's was aqua.

Now that I'm married my husband and I have started our own traditions. We always go cut down a tree, something we never did as children. We decorate our tree with ornaments from our childhood and ones we've accumulated since our wedding. It's always white lights for me too!

I adore Christmas. Tomorrow we head to Milwaukee to spend the long Christmas weekend with my husbands family. I am beyond excited!

I wish you a wonderful Christmas and Very Happy New Year!

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