It’s Christmas Eve! 😀 Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and happy holidays to those who don’t!
Head’s up, this post is about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions, mine personally, from when I was little and what I do now. So if a personal-type sappy blog doesn’t float your boat, I suggest you back out now. :”D
When I was little and in elementary school, my family was a single income, lower middle class family. We were able to pay the bills (most of the time) but as far as money that didn’t need to go to food or bills, there was rarely any, ever. I realize a lot of people have had it worse than me, but I feel that I need to explain this bit to make you understand why the rest of the traditions we did around Christmas meant so much to me, turning me into a Christmas lover for life.
When I was in elementary school, a few days before Christmas Eve, my school would host a ‘Santa’s Workshop’ that would offer toys and trinkets that the students could buy for their families. A lot of the gifts were rather inexpensive. There was a three dollar-table, a five-dollar table, all the way up to a fifty-dollar table. My parents, each year, would manage to give me and my sister both ten dollars. Meaning we could spend about three dollars per person for Christmas (father, mother, sister). This was my favorite day of the year.
I didn’t fully understand at the time what it meant for my parents to come up with ten dollars each to give my sister and I, but now I do. Anyways, my sister and I would haunt the three dollar table for as long as we were able to, trying to pick out the best present possible for each person. And to the school’s credit, the three-dollar table had some nice things on it, considering they were to be gifts from children to their parents. One year, I found a small angel figurine for my mother. I remember her opening it, looking at it, then grinning up at me and saying “It’s perfect.” I think I was six or seven that year – it was the first time that giving a gift really had any impact on me. I mean, nobody had reacted too strongly to something I personally had given them before that, so seeing my mom grin and carry on about this three-dollar angel figurine, well. It really struck a chord.
Needless to say, I’m a rabid gift-giver during the holidays now. 😛
So these little grab-bag gifts as my parents called them, we would open on Christmas Eve. That was our first Christmas Eve tradition. A second one came a few years later when Mom put on A Christmas Carol for my sister and I to watch for the first time when I was about eight. I loved it. I’ve made a point of trying to watch some version of it every year since then. I haven’t watched one yet this year, but there is still time. Actually, looking at the cable listings, it’s going to be aired in about a half hour. :”D So good timing for me, yay.
Those were the two Christmas Eve traditions established during my childhood. The first tradition we don’t do anymore, but the second I still try to, even if I’m by myself when I do it (like right now – SO is asleep, that goofball)
Christmas Day on the other hand was always and is still full of tradition for me. This is where my parents’ socioeconomic status comes in that I mentioned before. No matter how hard of a time my parents were having at the moment, they always found some way to make Christmas for my sister and I magical. Every year, Santa would come, leaving a pile of gifts under the tree. Once I found out Santa wasn’t real and realized my parents were doing all of it, I asked them once how they managed to do all this when a lot of the time they couldn’t afford to buy cereal. This is another one of those memories that just kinda stick with you, crystal clear. My parents looked at each other and smiled at us. “We make do, you’re more important” was all they would answer. I suspect they would either charge up their credit cards or take loans from family members, but they wouldn’t answer me about it.
Since then, while my parents are still single-income, my father has a much better job, meaning they’re not nearly as stretched anymore. They can afford food and some gifts and stuff like that much easier now (and even more so since I don’t live there anymore, running up the utility and food bills) But hearing that “You’re more important” stuck with me too. This is why I ran my bank account down to three dollars this year buying gifts. I’m rather addicted honestly. And most of the money I spent when to my parents’ and my sister’s gifts. After my sister opens hers, I think I’ll take a picture of it and post it here. I had it commissioned for her and it’s just so beautiful. Anyways.
So what I’m saying through those paragraphs and paragraphs of rambling is that my parents, through their generosity even though they often shouldn’t have done it, instilled in me a love of Christmas and a value of ‘others first’, which I really, really appreciate them doing for me. They’re wonderful parents and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else.
So right. Christmas Day traditions. When I lived with my parents, Christmas Day would go as follows:
Wake up, everyone go pee. Nobody’s allowed out in the livingroom! Everyone pee first so we’re ready! Okay, every ready? Let Dad go out first and get the camera! Let Mom go out and start the coffee pot and get food in the oven! Okay kids, come on out.
My sister and I would walk out in our nightgowns, hair sticking up in every direction, to our parents sitting in the livingroom, Dad posed in the best position to capture our expressions in a picture upon first seeing the gifts under the tree. He would snap a picture of our jaws dropping and Mom would sit there, drinking her coffee and smiling like a wild woman, “Santa came!” someone would yell, usually her.
Sister and I would sit down on the ground and we’d all open gifts. Even the cats would get gifts. Dad would look over the pictures he’d take of our faces – that was why we weren’t allowed out in the livingroom until everyone was ready. Dad wanted a picture of our faces.
After all the gifts were opened, we’d get dressed and Mom would pull the food out of the oven and we’d drive the two blocks to my grandparents’ house (on mom’s side). There, the extended family would meet and eat breakfast together (this is where the breakfast bake I’ve mentioned in past posts would come into play). We’d all eat, all fifteen or sixteen of us. Then we’d crowd into the family room and open more gifts. My cousins and I would get the job of sorting, which we still do today. After sorted, we’d all open. Someone is usually running around with a camera during this time, being goofy. Usually my uncle.
After my grandparents’ house, we’d go home and my parents would nap. I never understood the nap when I was little. Now I do. It’s vacation. You sleep. I get it now, haha. Then, we’d get ready and go to my grandmother’s house on my father’s side and the same things would repeat. We’d eat and open gifts. Now, my father’s side of the family was a bit bigger than mom’s side, so often the tree would be partially buried under all the gifts for everyone. It was really cool being a six year old and seeing a six foot tree completely hidden by presents. I always remember pie. There were also always a billion pies everywhere. And candies and cookies and… my dad’s side of the family was a ‘go big or go home’ family, haha.
We would do this pattern every year until my grandmother on my father’s side passed away in 2002. After that, we didn’t really meet up with Dad’s side anymore. Everyone moved away. Now we see each other maybe once a year.
So today, my traditions are a bit different.
Christmas Eve: Watch A Christmas Carol, watch A Christmas Story. Go to SO’s parents’ house and do food and gifts. Go to friend’s grandmother’s and do food and gifts. Go home, bond with SO over movies or games or whatever floats our fancy. I like all of these traditions. 🙂
Christmas Day: Open gifts from SO in morning, go to grandmother’s for breakfast as usual, go home to apartment and nap (see, I told you I get it now) go back out either to aunt’s or parent’s for dinner. If aunt’s go for food and go to parent’s afterwards for gifts. If parent’s, go for food and gifts. This year I think we’re just going to my parents’ place. It changes. Go home, clean up all the wrapping paper, probably take another nap. I like all these traditions too.
While all of these are good, I feel like Christmas for me right now is missing children. My SO has a nephew and we kinda go crazy when buying for him since he’s the only kid there. And same for my cousin’s kid at my grandmother’s. Go crazy for her too. They’re the most fun to watch on Christmas. The magic is still there for them. Whenever I have chillins, I’m going to stride to be like my parents and give them good Christmases year after year. I want them going into adulthood liking this holiday as much as I do.
So yes, those are my traditions and how they’ve changed over the years. Got a bit sappy, but it’s Christmas, so I’m allowed. 🙂 If you read through this whole thing, thank you, I know it’s a bit rambley.
And since he’s awake now, I’m off to start what I hope is a new tradition with my SO – going out for breakfast on Christmas Eve. ❤ Merry Christmas everyone, hope all your holidays are magical. 😀