My mother loved Christmastime and our house was always decked out for the holidays. She is the reason Hallmark exists! We always had a beautiful tree covered with colorful international treasures from our life overseas and all the traveling we had done together. She loved snow globes and nativity scenes and every year one whole couch would be completely covered with her motley crew of Christmas guys (stuffed animals dressed in red and green). She had Christmas dishes strewn about the house filled with holiday candy and would have enough baked goods on hand to guarantee at least a three to five pound weight gain after each visit. She was a big fan of the Christmas letter (writing and receiving them) and she loved shopping for our holiday cards and stationary the day after Christmas for the following year. I remember many 5:00 AMs on December 26 rifling through bins of picked over greeting cards to find enough boxes for everyone on her and my father’s Christmas list. I swear they sent 300 cards!
I miss my mother every day but especially during the holiday season. She made Christmas special with her childlike enthusiasm and overall joy.
My dad, on the other hand was the exact opposite. Sure, he loved the Christmas cookies, but growing up, his family would put up their Christmas tree the day before Christmas and take it down the day after, or so he said. He would often tell my mom to buy what she wanted and he would wrap it and put it under the tree. Over the years, he started to get into it more and I think even began to enjoy picking out gifts for all of us and eventually came to understand the element of surprise, however, his wrapping always left a lot to be desired! See picture above; that is VHS tape wrapped around a present. My dad also had a vast collection of holiday music and liked to play it constantly the week of Christmas.
One of my favorite family holiday traditions on Christmas day was after all the presents were opened and prominently displayed in front of the tree (another tradition), we would go to a movie. Many big blockbusters open on Christmas day and we had fun trying to agree on which one to see. After the movie we would come home and make leftover turkey sandwiches and each have a slice of pie. Chocolate pudding for me, pumpkin for my dad, and pecan for my mom and sister.
This will be my third Christmas without my parents and it is very different now; and for me it has lost some of the magic. My in-laws have done their best to include me and my sister in their holiday, but I am looking forward to creating new traditions with Lucas and hopefully seeing some of that lost Christmas spirit shine through him.
The best is yet to be.