My mother was also all about the decorations. I’ve said before that she was a collector, and what better thing to collect than Christmas decorations? She would decorate every nook and cranny of her home . Her favorite was setting up the Dickens Village in rooms in the house. Another favorite was setting out Nativity sets. While I do not decorate on the scale of my mom and I have actually simplified much of our Christmas this year, one thing I have done is added to our Christmas collection three Nativity sets from my mom. In the past, the very first thing placed out each Christmas is a beautiful Nativity from The Husband’s grandmother. A couple of years ago, I was given a burlap set that I had growing up. This year I added three others that I inherited from my mom’s collection. I loved finding a spot for each one and thinking of her each time I pass by. I know how happy she would be knowing they were out for this Christmas.
Along with the baking and decorating, came the sharing and entertaining. In the past couple of years, as her health declined my sister-in-law and I took on the duties of helping host a Christmas Drop In for all of my mother’s new friends. She began planning this months in advance and loved having guests in her home fully decorated with a table full of wonderful foods. This was a huge highlight for her and, I think, her kick-off to the Season.
But above all these wonderful, warm and fun Christmas memories, brought on by my mom, one stands out even bigger and brighter . . . THE STOCKINGS. Yes, the Christmas stockings were the pinnacle of the Christmas morning. And as we grew older and became young adults and then grown adults with children of our own, the stockings took on an even bigger place in our Christmas traditions. I am not sure when it began, or what made it so special, but the stockings began to be the favorite part of Christmas. As grown children, we began putting our stockings aside for later in the day during the afternoon lull and anticipating the second wave of opening. Maybe the babies were napping or the children were off playing with their gifts or outside. Now it was the time for the adults to sit back and enjoy.
First of all, my mom had every thing wrapped. I mean every single little thing was wrapped AND tied up with a bow. It might be a small bottle of perfume or a pack of chewing gum, but it was wrapped and decorated. As I only had my mother’s stocking stuffers to wrap, and THAT seemed to take forever, I truly appreciated the effort! And it must have been an effort for someone with arthritis to get all those little things wrapped, taped and ribboned.
Next, she didn’t play favorites. The Husband entered the fold at our wedding in November, and the next month he had his own stocking at Christmas. For every wrapped present my brother had in his stocking, The Husband had an identical gift. Whether it was a package of batteries, razor blades or lottery tickets, whatever my brother got, The Husband got the same. My mother treated him not as a son-in-law, but as her own son. I can still see those two fellas egging each other on as they unwrapped and unwrapped, comparing each stocking stuffer. It made for a pretty entertaining afternoon. I’m actually chuckling as I type remembering those two!
While, yes, we have created some of our own traditions within our family, this year, in honor of my mom, I’m wrapping every single thing – whether it goes under the tree or is to be stuffed in a stocking. As I am cutting, wrapping, taping and making ribbons, I have a new appreciation for the time and effort of all the wrapping my mother did through the years! I guess, in some way I am hoping to re-live some of the fun times. I want to share with my boys some of the same silly and memorable traditions that made Christmas the special family day that it was. I need to continue some of the effort created by my mom. I think she would appreciate that. (and maybe one day these boys will also appreciate some of the effort . . . one day?)
How do you keep Christmas memories alive? What do you do to honor those not with you? As you make new traditions with your own family, which ones carry over from your own childhood? I LOOOVE hearing other folks’ traditions . . .
And, don’t you just love the Grinch???
HAPPY GETTING READY FOR FOR THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!