I was sitting and reflecting about Christmas and all the Christmas Eves and Christmas Days I have experienced through these many years. I got to thinking how things are so different now than when I was a kid. The traditions from my youth are mostly gone. Not all of them, but most. Some because of people no longer here, some because we have made our own.
I wish I could remember the Christmas from that picture. There weren’t that many. You can see a cut out in that picture. That is my dad. I had cut out that a long long time ago and put it in a locket at some point, I returned it to this picture. I wish I remembered more from the Christmas’s with my dad’s family. I do remember going one time after he was gone and I got an Uncle Wiggly game! I loved that game!
When I was a kid, Christmas was a BIG deal! Mainly because of our large extended family! Because that family got together on Christmas Day at Grandma R’s house, we always had Christmas Eve at my mom’s and opened our presents from her then. Even when we got older, we continued to do that until Grandma was gone!
It was always hard to sleep that night in anticipation of Santa coming! We would always get up very early the next morning and it was SO exciting to see what ‘Santa’ had brought us. He never wrapped our presents and that is a tradition that we carried on with our kids. There was something so wonderful to see all those things sitting together in your ‘spot’. Your spot would be claimed by putting our your stocking, which was one of our knee high socks…and yes, we tried to find the biggest one we could! When I was at home, our stocking was always filled with an orange, hard ribbon candy (remember that?) and peanuts in a shell. I should have asked why-maybe that was mom carrying on a tradition she knew!
We wouldn’t be able to enjoy our ‘stuff’ for very long, because my grandpa would call VERY early in the morning and tell us to hurry up and get to their house! THIS was my very favorite part of Christmas! The joy of seeing all my relatives was great! Some had moved away and it was often the only time we would see them. Grandma Ritter always had breakfast for everyone too! There was boxes of tiny cereal and dozens and dozens of eggs.
After that was done it was present time. At some point when the family got so big, we drew names amongst the cousins. But of course, everyone got Grandma presents. We always filled her lap with them and she waited until everyone else was done and then it was her turn…..yes, we oohed and ahhed at each one!
The smell at Christmas time was one of the best things…and it still is! The turkey roasting, all the baked goods! YUM…nothing evokes those memories more than those smells!
As the family grew , Grandma’s house got too small-some of us literally sat on her steps to the second floor eating dinner! Would not trade that for the world, though! We at one point, rented out the Legion Hall so that everyone could fit. Although everyone was still together, it was never the same!
Christmas changed once our grandparents were gone. We started our own Christmas Eve traditions at our own houses. Our tree now goes up and Thanksgiving night. I am not sure how or who started it, but it is now something we do each year.
My mom always baked a LOT of Christmas goodies. Cookies, divinity, peanut brittle, fudge. We have continued the baking through the years, although now it is mostly just cookies! Of course, we use many of her recipes!
I continued the tradition of opening our presents on Christmas Eve-which continues to this day, even though we no longer go anywhere on Christmas! Christmas Eve dinner at our house is chili and cinnamon rolls. What I find amazing, is that is what my mom made and also what my mother in law made on Christmas Eve-long before my hubby and I even knew each other!
The cookies and milk got sat out for Santa and the kids put their stockings on the spots they picked out. When they were younger they were always up very early to see what Santa left! I loved that time! As they got older, I was usually up waiting for them! ‘Santa’ still fills those stockings and puts them out for the ‘kids’.
For awhile we would get ready and go to my mom’s. Because of our family circumstances, that didn’t last a long time and we ended up staying home. Now that my mom is gone, we have no where to travel to and I make a big Christmas dinner here. The smells, are still wonderful, still bring back memories. I always invite whatever family and friends that can come.
At times, Christmas can be a hard time of year. I try not to think of those lost, some even at Christmas. It may be tough, as we get older and people are lost, or traditions change, but I try not to dwell on the sad. I remember those gone with love, wishing they were here, always. I make sure that those here have a wonderful Christmas, that they feel the love and hope that maybe someday they will carry on some of the traditions we have made or passed down from others.