Our Christmas Tree

TreeI love the Christmas season!

Normally – Christmas music will start playing just as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is picked over and in the fridge.

But this year the girls caved early and started listening the week of Thanksgiving!

And the Christmas tree goes up – by the first of December – if not before.

I will admit that our Christmas tree will never grace the cover of a home and garden magazine, nor would a passing stranger admire it’s beauty.

But that doesn’t matter to me.

Why? Because our tree is decorated with memories. Each and every ornament has a story. Each one is an old friend.

There are ornaments from college friends, former students, and coworkers. There is one “First Christmas Together” ornament along with five “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments.

Then there are the handmade ones, the art projects created by my children, the heirloom ornaments designed by our parents and Jan’s Grandma Moen’s tatted snowflakes and bells.

It’s not just a part of the Christmas decor – it is a document of our family history.

Just like everything else in our Christmas – it’s not about being picture perfect – it’s about making memories that tie us together as a family.

And that makes it a thing of beauty to me.

On Rudolph and Other Christmas Memories

christmas memories

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was on last night.

I watched it with the kids – all five of them – even the teenagers. We sang right along with the songs; jumped in fright when the Bumble prepared to eat Clarisse; and cheered when Herbie removed all his teeth.

It’s a classic. An event. A tradition that we enjoy once a year.

As I sat there last night I remembering sitting at home with my siblings doing the very same thing – only the TV was black and white.

Just hearing Burl Ives singing “Silver and Gold” brought back a flood of memories. I could almost smell the Christmas tree and taste Dad’s caramel corn.

I remembered visiting Santa at the firehouse and getting a brown paper sack of goodies (salted peanuts at the bottom, a candy cane, and apple and orange.)

I remembered Christmas Eve – dressing up and saying our “pieces” in the Church Christmas program, then hurrying home to hang our stockings on the couch (we had no fireplace) and taking the traditional pajama picture before going to bed to wait for sleep to come.

I remembered slipping out of bed, tiptoeing to my sister’s room with my other siblings to wait for Santa. We would giggle and talk and send out an occasional spy until we got caught.

I remembered waking up at dawn and running to the Christmas tree to see if Santa had come, before running to Mom and Dad’s room and literally pulling them out of bed.

I remembered the chocolate Santa and animal crackers in my stocking, the happy confusion of unwrapping gifts, and the special breakfast of little smokies sausages and Pillsbury pastries from a tube (rare treats from my “make-everything homemade” mom).

I remember Christmas dinner at grandpa and grandma’s house, opening more presents, and playing with cousins before heading to the other grandma’s house for an oyster soup supper on Christmas night.

Such rich memories.

As the credits rolled last night I couldn’t help but wonder just what my kids will remember.

What sights and sounds of Christmas will trigger their memories?

I only hope they are as rich and wonderful as mine are.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Christmas Traditions

'Lil Donkey and Cow Christmas traditions are what ties us together as a family.

One tradition we’ve enjoyed with my family for years is acting out the Christmas story.

We started it when the first nieces and nephews began arriving.

We decided that instead of reading the Christmas story to several wiggly little ones, we would have them act it out.

Nana grabbed the box of dress up clothes and tipped it upside down on the floor and everyone- parents included- found a costume and acting out a part.

Whichever couple was pregnant or had just had a baby played Mary and Joseph. The animal hats that my oldest sister made for a Christmas program were perfect for little ones (and sometimes daddies!)

Papa Jim told the story as we all acted it out.

Those oldest nieces and nephews are now in their 20’s, but still participate every year to help bring the story to life for the youngest ones.

There are so many of us now that we have moved our Christmas celebration to Labor Day weekend and our “pageant’ is acted outside with a real campfire for the shepherds to sit around and the barn as a stable.

It’s a tradition that ties us together from the oldest to the youngest and makes memories that will last a lifetime!