Friday Five – Childhood Christmas Joys

2 Dec

photo via Pinterest posted by Nicole Kraus

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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’.
  4. Palm Trees Decorated with Ornaments
    I grew up in SoCal. ‘Nuff said.
  5. 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!

3 Responses to “Friday Five – Childhood Christmas Joys”

  1. Elaine Fong December 2, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    I remember driving up to the Oakland Hills to look at lights… very nice neighborhoods up there. And going to the Mormon Temple in the Oakland Hills as well. We can’t go inside (since we’re not Mormon), but the decorations on the outside/in the front courtyard are amazing! We all went there last year for the first time in a long time. Just as impressive as I remember… gold spires and all!

    My mom’s tree is still a joy for me! So many colorful, lights, some blinking & making a little tinkling noise, and so many different, fancy ornaments. It always looks like a cake when it’s done!

    • Christy Aylesworth December 2, 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Ooh, I’ve never been to the Mormon temple in Oakland! Will have to check that out one day.

  2. katieleigh December 5, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    We always went to look at Christmas lights too – there are a few neighborhoods in my hometown that go all out. Still hoping to do that this year when we go visit my parents.

    We have an eclectic Christmas tree too – both at my parents’ house and at my own. My mom dreamed briefly of a matching tree, but my dad and I always shouted her down. The mismatched ones are so much more fun!

    Other Christmas traditions: drinking eggnog with my dad by the fire, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (I weep every year), my mom reading the Luke 2 story out of her old, worn Bible. And the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.

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