Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Childhood Christmas Traditions

Christmas was always a magical time of year for me as a child. It still holds excitement and awe for me now as an adult, but a lot of that comes from the memories that were created as I was a child. I would love to share my memories with you all.

First things first: setting up the Christmas tree. It was a tradition in our household that the tree would come up on the first Sunday of December. I looked forward to that Sunday so much, it was the beginning of magical transformation in our household. It made the winter wonderland (we even had a brown Christmas once! - NOT fun) bearable as we got out our ornaments and Christmas lights from our little crevice in our home that stored it all.

As the lights went on to the tree, which we took very seriously, those who were not involved in that step went around the home and put up handmade reindeer in our dining room window, snowmen in the bathroom, and hung garland on our banister. Many more things were accomplished by the time the lights were put on, but those three things especially I remember were always put in the same place year after year after year.

Christmas music was always played and ranged any where from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Superstar Christmas (a cd that to this day I cannot live without.) We would sometimes have apple cider on the stove, but we would always have a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker sitting somewhere to be enjoyed by all.

Once the lights were put on the tree, we all gathered around to hang ornaments on the branches. We all had our own special ornaments and it was a rule that we got to hang ours, nobody else could touch them. Once we were satisfied with how things were placed, I would always admire the tree. It always looked so perfect, a wonderful collection of crafty memories and new favourites. Decorating the tree is my favourite part of decorating the house for Christmas.

We always had a chocolate advent calendar to mark down the days till Christmas Eve. We had another quilt advent calendar that my mother made. It was a tree and each day an ornament was placed on its branches. It was a rare occasion that I put an ornament on that tree, my brother always woke up earlier than I did and he raced to have that privilege every morning.

I think one of the best things about our Christmas traditions would be the fact that they were, at the time, completely different than any friend that I had. Our main celebration of Christmas always happened on the 24th rather than the 25th.

The mornings always started off pretty lazy, too much excitement for one girl to handle and I counted down the hours until dad would start the preparation for dinner. Dinner was not the turkey meal that you might have assumed, but rather our favourite German delights: rouladen & spaetzle with purple cabbage. This meal has to be one of my favourite things that we did every single year and as I got older, I was able to have more responsibility in the kitchen. It made me so happy to be a part of the meal that made our stomachs beg for more.

Once supper was eaten, dishes were completed, and some form of dessert consumed, we would enter into another favourite tradition of mine. Opening our Christmas presents. Not just one or two were opened, but all of them. We never waited till Christmas morning. We usually had one person pass out the gifts to who they were for and we all watched as that person opened up their gifts. This was an event for us, something to enjoy, take pleasure in, and hold in our hearts forever. Seeing the delight on the faces of the people that the gifts were for, that was the best part. Forget getting new things, this time was always for making others happy. I mean I DID enjoy getting new things, who doesn't? But I always remember watching for smiles as other people opened their gifts. Sometimes, especially if I was the one handing out gifts to family members, I would ignore all the ones addressed to me because I was so excited to see what other people received.

After all of the gifts were opened we would always watch The Christmas Carol, getting caught up in its story. I have seen a few Christmas Carols in my lifetime, but something about Alastair Sim makes the 1951's version my favourite. I highly recommend watching it. We would always sit on the couch and cuddle up with each other.

Once the movie was over, we would gather up our new treasures and wonder off to bed so that Santa Claus could come and fill our stockings. That was a magical moment, trying to figure out exactly when he came. Waking up and "nope, parents are still awake, he didn't come yet."

In the morning I would always be "rudely awaken" and annoyed at whoever it was that woke me up until I remembered what day it actually was. I rushed out and opened up our stockings which always held chocolate among other delights. A delicious breakfast would be had, my mother made this amazing breakfast casserole once and other times we would have crepes. The rest of the day was spent on playing with our new items, whatever they were, games, toys, books, eating our chocolates.

I have fond memories of how we spent this holiday. Of course, each year had little changes thrown in, but the events that I have mentioned were ones that never changed. I love how unique it is. My husband grew up with different traditions, and I think it is so much fun mixing our two Christmas pasts to form new traditions for our own little family. Especially now that Bug is in our life, its amazing how a little being can make this holiday even better. And now that she is older she is sensing our excitement and she completely fell in love with the tree once I put the lights on it. Last year she slept through the season completely since she was only a week old, but now that she is practically a toddler, she is making this season better.

I love hearing Christmas stories and traditions so if you have any that you would like to share, please leave them down in the comments below. Or if you have blogged about traditions old or new, please leave a link, I would love to read about it.

Merry Christmas. xoxo

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