This week I’ve been working on being intentional; in my marriage, in my appreciation of the season, and in preparing my heart and spirit for Christmas. In the spirit of preparing for the Christmas Season, this Friday I wanted to share five things I remember fondly from times of preparation for Christmases past. And fair’s fair…if I tell you mine, I want to know yours!
- Advent Calendars
We had two that I remember. One was two layers of cardboard with cut out doors. Each door had a number on it, and when you opened it a part of the nativity scene was revealed. The other was a tower of tiny drawers. Each one had a number, and each held a tiny prize. A chocolate, a pair of stick-on earrings (remember those ladies? Childhood gold.) I think I knew even then that those surprises weren’t there accidentally or magically – that my mom had taken the time to select each one to delight her girls. The one with the drawers caused a bit of anti-Christmas -spirit contention in our house, as we didn’t have much so had to share the prize calendar, taking turns on who got the gift each day and who opened the door on the Christmas scene. Torture to a six-year old, but it taught me patience, tolerance, and the value of waiting.
- Driving Around to Look at Christmas Lights
We didn’t have many Christmas traditions – especially as the years passed and the family ties started to fray – but driving around to look at Christmas lights happened for enough years in a row to make a deep impression on my childhood Christmas memories. My dad would pile us into the car, bundled up in puffy jackets and hats, and we’d drive to the more upscale neighborhoods that boardered San Bernardino, the car heater intermittently sputtering or blasting, depending on what we were driving that year. When we spotted a likely looking street (meaning you could see the glow from down the block) dad would pull in and sloooowly drive down the row so my sisters and I could press our noses against the glass and ooh and ahh. If we were lucky the street turned out to be a cul-de-sac and we could enjoy the lights each way, without switching from window to window in effort to not miss anything.
- An Eclectic Christmas Tree
None of our ornaments matched. Each year mom would get out the cardboard boxes containing our ornaments and we’d pull apart balls of tissue paper looking for the unique bauble inside. As we unwrapped each one, either mom or dad would tell us the story of how they got it. As soon as I was old enough to have memories from previous years, I remember exclaiming over each one as it was revealed “oh, I remember that one! That’s my favorite one. I want to hang it!” I’m sure my parents loved that, especially since we must have had at least sixty ornaments, all of which were ‘my favorite’.
- Palm Trees Decorated with Ornaments
I grew up in SoCal. ‘Nuff said.
- Putting Out Cookies for Santa
My mom always listened to my opinion on what type of cookies Santa would like best. Some years I thought homemade was best (oatmeal chocolate chip was a personal favorite), other years Oreos were the haute cuisine of cookies. I obsessed over the note I wrote to santa and carefully placed the cookies, milk, and carrots on a plate. (Unpeeled, unwashed. Hey, they were reindeer.) I counted how many he ate the next day, analyzed the nibbles on the carrot (apparently reindeer aren’t very hungry creatures) and poured over the note Santa always wrote back on the note I left for him like it held the secrets to the universe. I never noticed that Santa’s handwriting – on the note, on the present tags – looked a lot like the writing on the tags on gifts marked ‘from mom and dad.’
What are your favorite memories from Christmas past? Post them in the comments or on your blog (and drop me a line so I can visit) and share your memories!