As I sit quietly sipping my morning coffee, fingers of sunlight stretch over frost glistened roof tops....I imagine squeals of excitement as children spy beneath the tree unimagined gifts from that jolly old elf himself. And I remember Christmases long past stretching all the way back to my childhood...each memory warms my heart.
When my children were small, I tried so hard to make each Christmas magical for them...so much so, that by the time Christmas morn dawned I was a frazzled mass of nerves. If I had only known what I know now!
We had our own traditions for the Yuletide season....the children opened their first gift the night we put up our tree and it was always an ornament chosen with much love to reflect some aspect of their personalities....after Christmas these ornaments were packed into their personal Christmas box, destined one day to decorate their own holiday tree. On Christmas Eve, we joined the aunts and uncles on their father's side of the family at GranGran's house....the table groaned with all the holiday foods traditional to the South.....turkey and dressing, ham, ladyfinger peas, Aunt Vickie's delicious white corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and I won't even list the desserts.
Of course, the children hardly ate a bite so intent were they on the gifts piled beneath the tree. Their father and his brothers regaled us with tales of their childhood....sometimes all talking at the same time....in fact, we once set up a video camera to capture the scene. Upon later viewing, we realized that everyone was talking at the same time and we couldn't figure out who was listening! Eventually gifts were exchanged and much laughter ensued. Here there were traditions as well....someone in the family was going to receive a frozen fruitcake....which they were pass on to some one else the next Christmas....and yes, I believe that same fruitcake is still being bestowed upon some lucky soul....if not mistaken, the cake has been passed around for the past ten years....never opened or tasted....just re wrapped and re gifted. There is also a mismatched pair of male socks which is re gifted among the men in the family.
Christmas morning dawned so early! Our rule was no one got up until they smelled the coffee brewing and the Sister Schubert's sausage rolls cooking....then and only then could the children make a mad dash for their stockings. One never knew what kind of craziness Santa had placed in the stockings.....I think at times the children enjoyed the stocking stuff more than what was under the tree.
Then there was the mad dash to get everything and everyone ready for our Christmas celebration at my parents'. Once again we stuffed ourselves with yummy food and then on to the pile of presents. Of course, that particular part of the day was not without its pitfalls...I remember one Christmas when the pet dachshund had climbed over the gifts, knocking tags off. My mother quickly replaced the tags on what she was sure were the correct gifts....imagine our surprise when my husband opened his gift to find several pairs of lacy ladies underpants! It was our first married Christmas...welcome to the family!
Traditions are wonderful things until the maintaining of those traditions makes one lose sight of the really important things....time spent with the ones you love and cherish. My advice to those who wear themselves out physically, mentally and financially trying to make a 'perfect' Christmas for everyone...stop it! Quiet moments spent watching old Christmas movies....or making a batch of favorite cookies....stretching out on the floor with your child marveling at the lovely Christmas tree....these are the times that matter. If you aren't enjoying these moments, then it is time to give your idea of a 'perfect' Christmas an overhaul.
That being said, Merry Christmas.....slow down and enjoy it.