Christmas Traditions Part VI

christmas day 2006 - 1 (1)

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

After the kids to to bed on Christmas Eve, I like to wrap my gifts. Nothing like waiting to the last minute! Sure, I could do them ahead of time, but there is something I find really festive and fun about bringing everything out the night before Christmas and doing my wrapping in the light of the Christmas tree.

When we travel to Virginia to spend Christmas with my parents, my mom and I wrap our gifts together. I love those cozy evenings of conversation, wrapping, and munching on yummy Christmas goodies she has been baking, while the fire burns in the fireplace and the house smells of Christmas.

Then Paul and I get to play Santa. We fill the kids’ stockings and assemble one large toy for each child that we set, unwrapped, under the tree. These are from “Santa”. My kids don’t really believe in Santa, but we still enjoy playing along. And it always makes for great pictures. Pathetic? Maybe. I prefer “detail oriented”.

So then on Christmas morning, we make the kids wait at the top of the stairs until everything is ready. Meaning the Christmas tree lights are turned on and the camcorder and camera are ready for action. Oh, and the coffee is brewing of course. Gotta have priorities!

Then we always take a picture of the kids waiting at the top of the steps before letting them run downstairs to see what waits under the tree.

Growing up, I was usually awake all night, in eager anticipation of Christmas morning.  My mom actually had to set a time before which we were not allowed to arise. And you better believe that when 6am rolled around, I would waste no time waking everyone in the house to drag them downstairs for Christmas morning. This continued until I was about 25. No joke. My brother says it just isn’t Christmas when I’m not around to wake him from a sound slumber at 6am.

These days, I never have trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve, but I am always eager to wake up and start our Christmas morning festivities. Sometimes I am actually waiting anxiously for my kids to wake up! I think I’m more excited about seeing their little faces than they are about getting their presents.

So when the kids get downstairs, they are allowed to open the gifts in their stockings and play with the unwrapped presents under the tree. We try to take our time and enjoy the new toys for a bit while we sip our coffee and visit.

Then we have a family breakfast. When we’re with my parents, homemade sweet rolls are always the order of the day, a recipe passed down from my dad’s mother. When we’re alone here at home, the breakfast varies.

After we relax over a leisurely breakfast and get the turkey in the oven, we return to the living room to “have our tree”, as my mom always says. This means we get to unwrap our presents. In decency and good order, mind you. Now, don’t act surprised. There is no willy-nilly diving into packages in my house. No siree.

Every gift is handed out at its proper time, and many presents that we give the kids match up, so those have to be opened together. In fact, I often wrap the presents that go together in coordinating gift wrap so I can easily locate them when directing them to open them. It’s a disease. Really, it is. I get the coordination of the gifts thing from my mother, but I proudly claim the brainchild of wrapping them in coordinating paper.

Anyway, we try to take our time and basically prolong the excitement as long as possible.

Afterwards, we clean up and start preparing Christmas dinner, which is usually a repeat of the Thanksgiving meal we had just a month before. Or sometimes we go out to eat at a nice hotel to save ourselves the hassle of cooking.

And as if that’s not enough celebration, we always celebrate Christmas with Paul’s family at his parents’ home on one of the days between Christmas and New Years. There are four siblings in his family, all with families and children of their own, 20 altogether! So it is quite a large gathering when we all manage to be there together. The kids have a blast with their cousins, and the adults enjoy catching up with one another as well.

There is yet another turkey dinner with all the fixins, and Hubby’s parents always have a huge assortment of homemade Christmas cookies that they make every year. I always make sure to save room for my favorite of all sweets, the cookie. They make these incredible frosted molasses cut outs that are my favorite. And then there are also usually the little pecan balls rolled in confectioners sugar as well as the peanut butter kiss cookies (the kind with the Hershey’s kiss in the middle!) And there are probably more that I’m forgetting.

When we are all stuffed full of food and laden down with presents, we return home. And that ends our Christmas festivities for the season. We spend the rest of Christmas week restoring order to the house, weeding out old toys to make room for the new ones, taking down decorations, and dusting and putting everything back together.

As much as I adore Christmas, there is nothing quite as satisfying as putting away all the clutter decorations and having my “naked” house back.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts about my Christmas traditions.  I’d love to hear some of yours!