Tuesday, December 06, 2011

True Traditions Tuesday - The Traditions of Christmases Past

I know that Tuesday is usually the day that I come here to confess all of the things I've done throughout the week that I'm not too proud of - or maybe I am proud of.  It's a segment called True Confessions Tuesday.

Well, I don't feel like doing that today.... for the whole month of December, really.  I told you all last week how I wasn't going to be talking much - if any - about weight loss this month, so there's really no point in telling you all of my confessions.... believe me, you don't have that much time on your hands. 

So, instead of confessions... I've decided that Tuesdays - for the month of December - are going to be dedicated to Christmas traditions.    There's only three Tuesdays left until Christmas, including today.  Exciting, isn't it?  I figure I could get into the Christmas Carol spirit and do a Traditions post for Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas yet to come...or something like that. 

Today, I'll share the traditions of Christmases past....

Christmas Eve Day - Growing up, there really wasn't much we did on Christmas Eve.  Nothing major, anyway.  It was mostly a day spent at home waiting with high anticipation for the Big Guy to come visit.  To be honest, I don't really remember many Christmas Eves.  I'm assuming that's because I was so excited about Santa coming, that everything else was erased from my memory.  I do remember that there was NEVER any Christmas presents placed under the tree before Santa arrived. 

Christmas Eve Night - The Christmas Eve nights I remember could come right out of the book 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  My parents would do everything in their power to get myself and my three siblings into bed nice and early.  We'd each be given a pillowcase - that was our stocking.  My parents didn't believe in stockings...not for any other reason except you just couldn't fit enough in to a stocking.  A pillowcase had much more room.  We hung our pillowcases at the end of the bed, and let visions of sugarplums and presents dance in our head.  We lived in a two story home, and my bedroom was right over the living room.  I remember many Christmas Eves where I would be awoken by a clatter... but not from the lawn. It came from the living room.  I would lay in my bed barely breathing, as I was sure I heard Santa bustling around downstairs - and if he knew I was awake, he'd leave without giving me any presents. 

Christmas Morning Before My Parents Wake Up - When I woke up Christmas morning, I was not allowed out of my room - except to use the bathroom.  I was allowed to get everything out of my stocking pillowcase.  The pillowcase was always stuffed to the brim with all kinds of treasures.  It was tradition that there was ALWAYS a coloring book and either crayons or coloring pencils.  There were a few other small toys, but the majority of the loot was chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. 

Christmas Morning Once My Parents Were Up - My mom would usually come and get us from our rooms.  She would get me first, and then my brothers.  We walked down the stairs, and then would wait outside the door to the living room.  We would all stand together, and then my mom would open the door...where my dad was waiting on the other side, camera in hand, waiting to catch that perfect shot of our faces as we saw the amount of presents under the tree.  Once we got over the thrill of pure excitement, we were allowed in to the living room to pick a seat on the floor where we were to await our gifts.

The Presents - One thing my parents never allowed was mass grabbing and opening of gifts.  The gift opening was done one at a time.  One of my parents would play Santa, and once we moved to the States, my parents finally allowed one of us to take on the honor of handing out gifts.  Each person would open their gift, show everyone the gift, and then pose for the camera.  It was a long, drawn out ordeal - just the way I liked it.  Every Christmas there was always a "major" gift for each of us.  It ranged each year, but was usually some expensive form of electronic.  My brothers would get the latest gaming system, and I would get things like a new TV, a VCR, or a stereo.  If it wasn't electronics, it was something like a new bike, a new pair of roller skates (I was really in to roller skating as a kid), or something along those lines.  We never lacked in the amount of presents we got at Christmas.

After Presents - Once the wrapping paper finished flying, it was then time for milky coffee and cookies.  This was a coveted tradition in my parent's house - still is.  My dad would make coffee - even for us kids - using milk instead of water.  I guess that might explain my addiction to caffeine, now...my parents got me hooked from a young age.  Anywho, my dad made us coffee and my mom would open up a tin of cookies.  The cookies were just as much a tradition as the milky coffee was/is.  It wasn't just your run-of-the-mill cookies, oh no.  We had to have special cookies that came in a Christmas tin.  It was an assortment of all different types of cookies - shortbread, cream-filled, jelly-filled, chocolate covered..and so on.  We would then sit as a family and drink our coffee, eat the cookies, and talk about how excited and grateful we were for the gifts we'd received.

The Rest of Christmas Day - Once all the gifts were out of the packages, all of the kids spent the day playing with our new toys.  My dad would put on some Christmas music, and then my parents would be attending to Christmas dinner. I remember waking up every Christmas morning to the smell of  my dad's turkey cooking...again, another of my favorite traditions.  My dad would cook the turkey all through the night, so when we woke up Christmas morning, the house would be filled with it's wonderful aroma. 

Christmas Dinner - Christmas dinner ever since I remember has been the same...almost.  It is tradition that we eat turkey, stuffing, roast beef, roasted potatoes, three types of veg, Yorkshire puddings (a form of English bread is the best way to describe it - but it's actually made from a batter similar to pancake batter - just not sweet - and then baked in the oven), and gravy.  For dessert, we always had Christmas pudding and mince pies.  When we sat down at the table to eat, we would start with pulling our Christmas crackers (kind of like little party favors rolled up in fancy paper that would pop when you pulled them with the person sitting next to you).  We would then put on our paper hats - that were in the crackers - and eat.

Boxing Day - Boxing Day, in England...and Canada, too, is the day after Christmas.  It's basically a day dedicated to spending time with family, trying out all of the new games and toys received for Christmas, eating, drinking, and being merry.  It was/has always been tradition in my parent's house to eat leftover turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner on Boxing day.  My mom also lays out a spread of different pickles - dill, onions, etc. - to eat with the dinner.  In the evening, the whole family would partake in a few board games - usually new ones received for Christmas.

So, there you have it... Christmas in my house while growing up.  My parent's love for Christmas definitely had a huge impact on the way I celebrate Christmas now that I'm all grown up.  They always did what they could to make each Christmas special and magical - regardless of financial situations.  In fact, money was never a spoken issue in my house around Christmas time.  My parents would give everything they had to make sure that Christmas day was the most memorable day of the year - and they did a great job of it.  I remember many Christmases from my past.  To this very day, with kids still living at home, my parents do what they can to give my youngest brother and sister the same level of excitement this time of year.  Of course, my little brother and sister aren't receiving VCR's and Nintendo 64s...nowadays, they are getting flat screen TVs, laptops, and a PS3.  Ugh, I'm getting old.

Next week, I'll take you through the traditions that are in place in my house today.  You'll be able to see the impact my parents had on how I celebrate Christmas with my own children...some things I've kept, some things I've replaced.  Regardless, I always had the most amazing Christmases growing up. 

I'd love to hear about some of the traditions you had in your house growing up....tell me about them, would ya?

OK, everyone enjoy your Tuesday.

Till next time. ;)
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