Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Memories

I love Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas, from the decorations, to the music, to the spirit itself.  Everything seems better at Christmas.  We all have our favorite Christmas memories, so here are a few of mine.

My first church Christmas pageant.  I'm not sure how old I was,  and I don't remember much about that day.  I was chosen to be Mary, and my cousin, Kevin, was Joseph.  For most of the program, he and I got to sit in a homemade stable, complete with doll-baby Jesus in a homemade manger, and lots and lots of REAL hay.  It was awesome.  Nobody suspected anything.  Until our duet.  Kevin and I sang "Away in a Manger."  I'd been kind of itchy for most of the program and didn't think anything of it.  But the look on my aunt's face told me something wasn't right.  I'd apparently broken out in hives.  We found out that day that I'm allergic to hay.

I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus.  The spirit of giving to others.  But I'll never forget the night I figured out Santa himself wasn't real.  My bedroom that I shared with my sister was right off the living room.  I heard noises late that night, and quietly got out of bed, hoping that I'd catch a glimpse of Santa himself.  Instead, I saw my aunt and uncle putting presents under the tree.  I just figured they were putting some more out before the next morning, and got back in bed.  The next day, however, I put 2 and 2 together.  The presents they had laid out after we went to bed said "From Santa" on them.  I don't remember a conversation about this revelation, but I don't remember being terribly disappointed either.  It's like, I knew something the other kids didn't.  I figured out the mystery!

My fondest memory of Christmas is family.  I come from a huge family.  My grandmother was one of 6 children, and she had 7 children with my grandfather.  Most of her family lived nearby, and most of her kids did as well.  We'd all gather at great-aunt's and uncle's houses, and at my grandmother's house as well.  Now my uncle's family also had gatherings as well, so we were always at somebody's house.  There was lots of food and laughter, presents and LOVE.  The coolest thing ever was the bag my uncle's mother made for all the grandkids.  She got everyone a huge red santa bag, and decorated them with our names on them.  When we went to open presents at their house, we just put all of our presents in our santa bag.  It was so cool.  One of my other favorite memories was going to my great-aunt Kathleen's house.  I remember the food was in the kitchen, the men were in the den watching a game of some sort, and the women were in the dining room chatting.  There were so many kids, we just ran around and I remember torturing my cousin Jeff in his room.  It was always so much fun.

The Christmas I moved to South Carolina.  It was crazy.  Right before I moved, my church had a Christmas party where we went caroling around the neighborhood.  It was so much fun, but it was sooooo cold!  It was the last night I got to spend with the entire youth group before I moved.  I'm so glad I still keep in touch with most of them.  Those are lifetime friendships that I cherish.

The Christmas that my aunt and uncle got my grandmother's ring fixed.  My grandmother had given me a beautiful pearl and diamond ring right before she died in August of 1998.  I only wore it on special occasions.  Usually that meant to a choir performance, or to a speech meet.  I was a member of the speech and debate team in high school.  At one speech meet, I noticed the pearl was gone.  I was heartbroken.  I had no idea how to go about getting a new pearl, or how much one would cost.  I took it home, and my aunt offered to keep it in her jewelry box for me.  I handed it over, and didn't think about it again until it got closer to Christmas.  My grandfather had called and asked about the ring. I guess he didn't realize grandma had given it to me.  And I started to panic, because the pearl was missing.  How would I ever explain that to him.  My aunt told me not to worry about it, that it would be fine.  But I wasn't convinced.  I remember my anxiety because he was coming for Christmas.  When he got there, he asked to see the ring, and when we went to get it out of my aunt's jewelry box, it was missing!  I about had a heart attack.  The pearl missing was one thing, but now the whole thing was gone!!  At that moment, I just wanted to cry.  On Christmas morning, we all gathered around the tree.  No present really mattered to me.  I would have given an arm and a leg to have my ring back.  My uncle called my name and handed me a little present and I took it and sat down.  I started opening it, and it was a ring box.  My heart skipped a beat.  NO. WAY.  Sure enough, the ring was inside - pearl and all.

Our first Christmas together.  It does not even feel like the first Christmas we spent together was 10 years ago!  We had very little money.  And the one thing I wanted the most that Christmas was a toaster.  I begged for a toaster.  We got each other a few things, wrapped them, and then put them under the tree.  Now, if you know me, you know I am not a patient person, and I hate surprises.  HATE them.  So while Chip was at work, I peeked at my wrapped gifts. One of them was, of course, a toaster.  So a few days later, we were watching tv, and a husband gave his wife an appliance for a birthday present.  And I started a tirade.  "Well that's just dumb.  You should never, ever, EVER give your wife an appliance as a gift, even if she asks for it.  It's just RUDE."  (insert evil grin)  I've never seen him squirm so much!  It wasn't until after Christmas that I told him I knew about the gift, hahaha!  Don't worry - he got me back.  A few years later, he got me a Dooney & Bourke purse for Christmas.  And knowing how I like to peek, he hid it at my friends house.  And I begged, and begged and BEGGED for my present.  So he said one day that he'd go get it, if for no other reason than to shut me up.  He left and came back with a big box.  I was SO excited.  I tore the paper off, and opened the box was clothes.  Not just any clothes, but my kids clothes that I'd left at my friends house.  That were still dirty.  Yeah, you probably think that's funny.  It's been a few years, and I'm not there yet.  It's still a painful memory.  Laugh it up.

Oh this list could go on and on.  I love that I am making new memories with my kids.  I can't wait to hear their stories one day!  What's your favorite Christmas memory?

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