Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is...

"At only $99, these make great stocking stuffers! Order one for every member of you family, including Uncles, Aunts and Cousins! Call now!"

At the risk of sounding a bit out of touch, let me tell you about Christmas when I was a boy. Like every one else, the kids in our family got excited about the big event. We started getting Christmas Catalogs in something like October. The day they came in the mail was one of the big thrills of the year. We had to take turns looking through it and, within a couple weeks, just about every page was dogeared.

Having limited resources meant that our family was on a budget. We could look and dream all we wanted, but when decision time came we had to limit our our choice(s) to a total of..


That's right. Stocking stuffers? What was that? My bachelor Uncles would come from the mountains for the day and our family gift to them was usually one or two pairs of socks.

Sure, $5.00 would buy a lot more back then. I can still remember -- I think -- about three different $5 Christmas gifts from different years. I had fun with each of them for a while.

What I remember the most, though, is the many hours of fun we had as a family. The cousins all played outside until it was too dark to do anything. We went back in and played table games until bedtime. We ate food (and ate and ate and ate), finally crashing with hearts full of joy.

Those $5.00 presents have long since landed in a landfill. The family relationships? Well, the tribal members who are still living are separated by miles as well as years. Every time we get together, however, we pick right up where we left off.

And the loved ones who have passed? Their memories linger with the rest of us for the remainder of our lives.

What memories of Christmas do you cherish?


C. Beth said...

It's funny that you talk about not having stocking stuffers, because opening up stockings is one of my best Christmas memories. As you know, Dad, we opened our "real" presents on Christmas Eve, and I just LOVED that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning with anticipation, wondering what would be in that stocking! We'd go into the living room with our PJs and dig in. Stockings at Mamma's house were always the most-stuffed. There were several Avon items from her, little toys from Mom, plus nuts we weren't going to eat, fruit we might eat, and candy we'd definitely eat!

Liz said...

I grew up without much. Mom was a single parent and we struggled from year to year. Traditions weren't established until well past the end of my belief in Santa... but I do have 2 things that always stand out. 1 was a magic Christmas that happened when I was around 8 or 9. It's too long of a story for this comment but I will post it on my own blog in the coming weeks. One tradition that I have continued with my daughter is the "cheap gingerbread house." My mom couldn't buy the ingredients to make gingerbread. And even if they made the kits back then, we wouldn't have been able to afford one. So we made our gingerbread house out of graham crackers! Graham crackers, powdered sugar frosting, a variety of candies...

beckiwithani said...

One of the most valuable traditions to me that our family had was one that I did not even realize was "our" tradition until I became an adult.

We open gifts one-by-one, in a circle. Each person, during his or her turn, opens the gift, shows it to everyone, and thanks the one who gave it. It takes awhile, but every gift is appreciated.

I only discovered in the last several years that most people don't do it this way. It is more often a free-for-all, with each person (especially the kids) grabbing his or her gifts an opening them in a frenzy. No one sees anyone else open, because everyone is so focused on his or her own opening. There's little appreciation shown, and the kids don't usually even realize which gift came from which relative. How miserable!

I'm thankful that you guys taught us gratitude with the way we do it.

Sam said...

Liz, based on your "I grew up without much" statement, I look forward to your writing (and your comments here) during this season. I think you will help us all understand some things we need to know.

B & B, you have no idea how much joy it gives mom and me to hear your memories and what they mean to you. Thank you both for making my day!