traditions of the season

Continuing with my Christmas theme from yesterday…one of the things I loved about Christmas as a child were the traditions my family shared. When we were very young my dad would take all four kids out for a drive to look for Santa. We’d invariably see an airplane and he’d tell us it was Rudolph. Meanwhile, back at home, my mum would be scrambling to get last minute wrapping done.

Every Christmas Eve we’d have a beef fondue. Mum would make four or five different sauces, we’d heat up the oil and we’d dip our beef in. As I recall, that’s all we had for dinner. No veggies, no salad, just meat. I’m sure there was something else, but all I remember is the meat.

On Christmas Eve we’d go to bed with just a few presents under the tree, and when Christmas morning rolled around we were always greeted with a pretty large increase in the number of presents. Mum continued this well after the Santa-believing age, and I loved it.

Our stockings would be stuffed to overflowing, and the extra presents would be on the hearth of the fireplace. There was always a box of sugar cereal for each of us. We never had it normally, so it was a real treat. And Mum knew all our favourites. Corn Pops were mine.

We were allowed to open our stockings and one present of our choice before breakfast. And my parents were pretty lax about how early we got up. I don’t think 6:00 was unheard of. Their bedroom was next to the living room, and I imagine they woke up to their kids squealing with delight as we turned on the living room lights.

One particularly good memory I have is of waking up really early on Christmas morning and not being able to get back to sleep because I was so excited. My sister, who is six years older than me, was always the same way, even into her late teens. I saw her light on across the hall and I climbed into bed with her. We lay there reading together until it was time to get up. I remember being really warm, snuggled up against her.

We didn’t have any extended family other than grandparents, so Christmas dinner was always at our house. We occasionally had people over, but mostly I remember it just being the six of us and my maternal grandparents. We always had Christmas crackers at the table, and we always wore the hats.

It has been hard for me to transition into an “adult” Christmas. Over the years as my siblings have got together less and less I’ve had to struggle with what Christmas looks like for me. It has become a little easier now that I have kids, and a new focus, however I put pressure on myself to create our own family traditions. I have to stop trying so hard. I don’t think you “create” traditions. I think they evolve over time.

Regardless of how we spend each Christmas, I do hope that Elliot and Amy have as fond memories of their childhood Christmases as I do.