As I anxiously count the days until Andi and I drive back to Nebraska for the holidays, I've been flooded with childhood memories of Christmas past. Some of my favorite Christmas memories ....
ONE: Babes in Toyland. Does anyone remember this old-school movie? My sister and I used to watch it all the time as kids. We thought the evil Barnaby was so scary! And Tom Piper - so dreamy! At Christmastime, I can't help but remember this classic movie and cuddling up with my sis on the couch to watch it so many years ago.
TWO: I'm from small town America; a place where my entire extended family lives only a few miles apart from one another. There are seven grandkids on my mom's side, who'd all met up at my grandparents house every weekend. At the holidays, as soon as Grandma received the JCPenny Christmas catalogue in the mail, all of us grandkids would belly up the kitchen bar and begin to pick out toys for Christmas. We'd circle Cabbage Patch Kids and write our names by the one we wanted. Remember the ventriloquist dolls they used to advertise? Each of us grandkids would choose our favorite one and pretend it was us! We used to look over those books over and over again at the holidays, contimplating the perfect gift.
THREE: Santa never wrapped Christmas presents at our house (I think he and Mrs. Claus might have been too tired from all the celebrating at my grandparent's house the night before). So on Christmas morning, my sister and I (and years later, my brother too) would stumble into the living room, likely in matching Christmas pajamas, rub our eyes and see what Santa brought us for Christmas. All our toys and gifts would be displayed ever-so-nicely in a row in front of the Christmas tree. There was nothing like that feeling, walking into the livingroom to see all your favorite things lined up together. One year, my brother sleepily stumbled into the house after a late night at my grandparent's house on Christmas Eve, only to walk right past his brand new bike in the garage. He didn't even notice it! Luckily, my sister and I were old enough to know Santa's Christmas secret so it wasn't so suprising to us.
FOUR: One Christmas tradition that still holds true is watching home movies with my sister. It's something that bores my husband to tears, but one of my very favorite things to do when I go back home. It's so funny to remember all the birthday parties and Christmases past. We laugh til our stomachs hurts, watching them over and over again.
FIVE: My mom makes truckloads of homemade Chex Mix every Christmas. Just when we think it's all gone, she pulls out another huge tupperware that she's hidden from us! Now that I have my own home I make Chex Mix for Andi and I to munch on too. It's never the same though, there's something about the way she makes it that truly makes it feel (and taste!) like Christmas.
SIX: Going to church on Christmas is something we've always done together as a family. Not that going to church during the year isn't special but there's something magical about picking out a Christmas dress, getting all dressed up and singing Christmas carols at church on Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, my mom would always have one special present for my brother, sister and I to open before church. It was usually a pair of earings or a pretty necklace to wear with our Christmas dresses. This is definitely a tradition I'll continue for my kids someday.
SEVEN: One Christmas tradition I started when I moved out on my own is creating a special theme for my Christmas presents. Two years ago, I wrapped all our presents in glittery wrapping paper with shiny red jingle bells. Then Andi and I made the seven hour drive from Minnesota to Nebraska listening to nothing but jingly bells all the way there. ANDI ABOUT DIED. No more bells he said. Last year's theme was recycled brown paper and raffia which was also very pretty. And this year? A pretty red and silver glittery paper which sparkles so beautifully under my Christmas tree. Unfortunately, we have glitter EVERYWHERE from wrapping the gifts. It's in our bed, all over the couch and yesterday, even in Andi's hair. I just smile and laugh to myself when I see his cute little cheek sparkling in the sunlight. Sorry honey - it's all in the spirit of Christmas!