“How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?”
My mother decorated early. We always got a huge Christmas tree, one carefully selected and as close to prefect as possible. Seriously, my generally tight-fisted, impatient father would take Mom to as many Christmas tree stands as necessary until she was happy with one.
The presents under the tree! Not expensive, but never the cheapest, quality over quantity. When I was little, the beautifully wrapped gifts seemed like, well, Santa magic! I always got a new doll, though I did not get the other presents that I drooled over in the ads. Still, the ones I got were chosen with care.
Dad also bought everything Mom needed to bake incredible amounts of delicious foods, savory and sweet. To be fair, no matter how he kept money from her and some of us, we always had plenty of food and Mom was allowed to bake her heart out all year.
I learned to cook from all of this. Family used to ‘drop in’ (literally) from out of state, family closer always came in, and friends could be there.
I tried to duplicate that myself.
When my mother was still with us and we lived near each other, (fortunately, my family joined us here for my mother’s last years), I made some, she and other members made some of the foods and we made a big feast.
When Mom was gone and my kids got married, we still did that, but like with Thanksgiving, I had a smaller feast ready here and we’d end up at my place for more.
After a while, it was me making mine here, with my kids, grandkids and friends coming in.
I still bake and decorate, but gone are the coworkers of ours who got Christmas goodies. Gone are the open-houses I had when my kids and their friends took piano lessons and I would have a Christmas concert for them to perform here with refreshments afterward. And gone are some of the family, with Son #2, D-in-Law and Grandtoddler in Nevada; Grandchild #1 with family wherever most of the time , Grandchild #2 with one corner of her family and Son#1 plus Grandchild #3 dropping in.
We never have family from out of town anymore, we never have work-college friends of the Kids anymore.
All of the kids here, (both generations), are way past the ‘let’s read the kiddie Christmas stories’, although the second two, when they visit, have been willing to watch Christmas movies they have not seen. Even the the youngest of them just got her driver’s license and a job, plus she is very active in school, and is taking college courses. I will be surprised if I even see her on Christmas, (she was here for Thanksgiving at least).
The others? I can bribe them with their favorite foods!
I will be decorating this week, maybe starting today. I will be baking and cooking, I am already planning the baked goods and meal, as I have had received family requests,
but not yet, as with our Thanksgiving having been late, I we still eating food from that feast!
We’ve given up exchanging gifts among the adults . I get the idea of what the older kids want because it is impossible to guess and I hate for them to be disappointed when they wanted something else, especially with everything costing so much anymore, I can’t afford to be wrong.
I used to love the hustle and bustle of going to major centers and small shops to get just the right presents to suit each member of the family and friends. I don’t understand how people hate that. Even in the real cold and snow, I loved it.
That and everyone joining together is what I miss of our traditions, but I will enjoy making fancy Christmas-only goodies and foods, having my familiar Christmas decorations and my now 39 ear-old little tree around me with all of the soft lights,
and watching our many traditional Christmas movies and shows. It will be quiet, (I HOPE that it will be quiet. The wrong kind of excitement is not welcome!)
In fact, I’m smiling just thinking about it right now.
I hope this season has you at peace and quietly smiling, as well.