I love everything about the season; Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas cheer, Christmas shopping!! Does it get any better than this! It is a time in the year when traditions are cherished, people go out of their way to extend joy to one another, and thoughts turn to family and friends.
It's time to bake all the things we save just for this time of year: fudge, peppermint bark, sugar cookies, gingerbread houses (ok so I don't bake the last one but I did try to make one a few years back that may have tilted a lot - ok ok, so it did tilt a lot. It is alright though, I said it was because I am from CA and so I built my rendition of a gingerbread house after an earthquake-whew, good save right?!)
I love to wrap presents and think lots of wonderful thoughts about the person who will receive it. I imagine their excitement at the possibilities of what is to be found under all the beautiful Christmas wrapping as they look at it under the tree. Will the shape/size/weight of the package give away it's contents? How much thought went into each one, the joy of opening it, and what the expression is on their face as they open each gift.
Traditions are a favorite part of the Holidays for me as well. I love to think about traditions we had as children: going to Disneyland hotels Dancing Waters show, walking behind the waterfalls and visiting Santa to tell him what we wanted that Christmas. On the way home we would see who could count the most Christmas lights.
Christmas Eves began at our house with a big brunch, which always included the 12 days of Christmas glasses and some Martinellis Apple Cider. Close family friends came over and we ate and exchanged gifts. The nights were spent at my grandpas house with family. The fireplace would be aglow, while my grandma had the table set festively with name cards for each guest at their seat. After dinner we would gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts for each other. The best part of the night was when Santa Claus himself would come and visit!! He would pull open his big red sack and pull out one gift for each of us. We would then watch him go and look for his reindeer in the sky, always a contest to see who saw it first.
The night before Christmas would be one of excitement and anticipation for the next day. My sisters and I would try our hardest to stay awake and listen for Santa's sleigh bells and the sound of the reindeer on the roof. We never snuck out in fear that Santa wouldn't leave anything if we caught him, so we remained glued to our beds with glee, hoping he liked the cookies and milk we set out for him. (we even left carrots for the reindeer)
Christmas morning always began early for us kids :) We would usually sneak out of our rooms at 5 in the morning and to see what Santa had left for us. His gifts were never wrapped. The stockings, no longer on the fireplace, would be full and placed in front of a pile of gifts. We would look through our piles and the contents of each stocking, joyfully showing each other what we received, all the while remembering exactly were everything sat. When we were done we would put it all back the way we found it, go and wake my parents up to come and see what Santa had left, and then pretend like it was the first time we ever saw them (so not to ruin the surprise for my parents!). We would then open our gifts as a family, one at a time in order to enjoy everyone's reaction to each individual gift, and to express our awe at how much thought the giver had put into each one.
Christmas day was filled with lots of visits and food. We would visit our good friends the Myers for lunch and a gift exchange, and then end the evening at my grandmothers house. Her tree was always covered in tinsel and set up in the front hallway. It was the first thing you saw when you walked in the door. I think there may have even been a nativity set up but really all I saw was that great tree! After dinner we would gather around her fireplace, warm and lit up, and exchange gifts with aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course grandma. It was the perfect way to end the day. There was always a feeling of love and the joy of family to make the day complete.
Over the years, traditions changed. People passed away or moved and we had to create new traditions. On of my favorites was spending each Christmas Eve watching A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory. We would then go out to dinner at Foscari as a family. Christmas morning we still woke up early, only this time after opening our gifts we had our big brunch on Christmas day. We would then spend the evening at the Myers having dinner and playing trivial pursuit. According to my memory the girls always won (this is according to my memory and may not be an accurate portrayal of what really occurred-just sayin')
Today Scott and I are making our own traditions, it changes a little each year. This year: Christmas Eve Taco night with my sister and sister in law, followed by Christmas movies. The Christmas day brunch with NC family and friends is still on, this time we are hosting! The 12 days glasses will still be there, as well as some fudge and Martinellis. Then there is the new tradition of looking for the pickle ornament, and thanks to Shannon, the red pepper ornament in the tree for extra gifts. Afterwards we are having a relaxing Christmas with our good friends Gina and Thomas playing some Seafarers of Catan.
I'd love to hear about your favorite Christmas traditions/memories. Please leave a comment about it.