Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Can I just say that I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!

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.

Merry Christmas!!!


Darci said...

We open a gift on Xmas eve and I always love that, and watch Christmas movies that night.

Scott and Meaghan said...

I like that tradition. I made pj pants for us this year to open on Christmas Eve but was too excited that I actually sewed something that I made Scott open them last night! haha
Merry Christmas!!

Shannon Nielsen said...

First off, love your tree! It looks full of fun - just like you two! Thinking back to our christmas together a few years ago - yes the pickle/pepper game which is now a tradition in our home! - then all that cocoa - new christmas music of all genres you introduced us too - driving around to see all the gorgeous homes lit up - snow! It was sweet to read your family traditions - some I was aware of, some I've been a part of, some I'd like to add to our family traditions! Did your family drive to Stardust Street in Brea? We did. Christmas WAS my grandparents house with fires in the fireplace, goodies, potluck meals, all the family, so many kids, someone always clogged up their one bathroom (it's a family joke/tradition gross I know). Now our new family of 5 has our own, some adopted some new. Of course the day after Thanksgiving we're out driving around looking at lights. Now we do Santa in the morning and open wrapped gifts by the tree in the evening. This year we took canned peaches done earlier this year I decorated with ribbon & a homemade card to friends. I always have fun with our christmas cards. I always make time for Paul & I with Martinelli's & a movie after the kids go to bed. This year Paul decided he was going to be Santa & do all the shopping - I didn't argue because I usually dread christmas shopping & try to do as much as I can months before hand. He did a great job and I cried with his creativity & love for me & the kids - major points this year Paul! We have started a tradition of hosting dinners around christmas time for friends who don't have family in the area - lots of transplants out here in sunny AZ (well we've been enjoying cold weather & rain for weeks now loving it!)...miss you & Merry Christmas to all the NC Brown/Wallack/Skogens!!! Tell your Mom her card won this year - the kids played with it until it well, it was well loved! ;-D

Heidi McLeod said...

yea christmas rocks. alex and i go shopping for an ornament every year to represent something about the past year. this tradition started b/c when alex proposed my ring was in an ornament on the tree. this year our ornament is a little snowman holding a toothbrush b/c alex started dental school.

Shannon Nielsen said...

Stealing the ornament idea Heidi! Thanks for sharing!

Joey and Suzanne said...

We've started a tradition of opening one stocking stuffer on Christmas Eve. Another one is eating chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning. And, my sister has been coming down to visit the past two years, so that's kind of a tradition as well. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Katie Hatch said...

Meaghan! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! I love Christmas too! All the traditions growing up, new ones made, love it all :) I wish you could have seen my face when I opened your gift! Oh the excitement-You don't even know! It is one of my favorite movies, so I'm happy to have it in my DVD collection so I can watch it whenever I want. You know what I'm thinking about now? Remember your New Years Eve Party in 2000? It was so fun! Wish we could all be together again this year!

Scott and Meaghan said...

That was fun Katie!! I wish we could all be together again for the new year as well, what a great group of friends we have!! I'm so glad you love it, it is my favorite movie as well, I sent it to Shannon too :)

Shannon Nielsen said...

I hadn't seen the Holiday yet but wanted to with the cast & previews. We watched it for our date night over the weekend and both enjoyed it. I thought Kate Winslet did a wonderful job and her storyline was so touching. I liked the twist at the end with Jude Law/Cameron Diaz. It made me want to visit England! Should we house swap?? Between the 3 of us we'd get tropical with Katie in PR, rustic sunshine with me in AZ, and southern comfort with Meag in NC - what do you think!?

Scott and Meaghan said...

Sweet! I am so in!! :) When do we go?