Friday, December 04, 2009

Like a Kid on Christmas

When I was a kid, I approached Christmas like a general at war: I planned covert reconnaissance, engaged in psy-ops, even struck strategic alliances with my siblings to make sure that Christmas met our expectations. It was all about the gifts, baby.

I knew that opening presents before the whole family was awake was forbidden, but patience was never one of my strong suits. As soon as I woke on Christmas morning, and there was even a hint of morning light on the horizon, I'd sneak out of my bedroom and into the living room for a peek.

Oh, the new-toy smell of Christmas mornings! As a kid, there was nothing more glorious and magical than to enter the room that had, the night before, been just another living room and find a wondrous bounty of toys and gifts arrayed under the tree. My family was strictly lower middle-class, at best, but my parents always found away to make sure my brother and sister and I had a magical Christmas.

Later, as I grew older and gained a more mature understanding of the holiday, I came to find more joy in the true spiritual meaning of the holiday than in finding presents under the tree. But I've never forgotten the excitement of tiptoeing into the living room and fidning that Baby Tender Love or those brand new Trixie Belden books waiting under the tree for me that cold, dark Christmas pre-dawn.

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories from childhood?


Julie Miller said...

Hey, Paula--

My brothers and I used to engage in similar strategic planning--we were just so excited to get up and get going on Christmas morning. Mom & Dad were less excited, of course, about a pre-dawn raid. Besides, members of my family have blood sugar issues, so eating breakfast is a must--further delaying the Christmas bliss.

Our solution? Mom & Dad got up and fixed breakfast while we got to go raid our stockings. Stockings could be pulled down and goodies opened up as soon as we got up. That was enough to keep us satisfied until we'd eaten. And then we all sat down around the tree and opened the big presents.

Nowadays, I'm just happy whenever we can get all the family together and share each other's company--any time of the year.

Kea said...

I'm an only child, so I'd wake early on Christmas morning and go downstairs to get the stockings. They were Dad's bush socks (the tall, grey wool ones) and would be stuffed with oddly-shaped items--always intriguing, even though stocking stuffers always were practical items. And of course there had to be an orange in the toe!

We'd open the stockings on my parents' bed, then go downstairs for breakfast (always kringle, a German sweet bread) before opening gifts. We took turns opening the gifts, no rushing through.

I can't remember my very young years, but these memories are from about 7 or 8 years onward.

Even after my parents divorced (Christmas, when I was 14), Mom and I still kept the tradition of stockings first, then breakfast, then presents.

When I was married, my ex and I would go to his mom's on the 24th for dinner, open our gifts to each other on the 25th at home, then go back to his mom's for gift-opening after breakfast. He'd stay there with his brother and his mom for a good chunk of the day while I went to my mom and her hubby's house for more presents and lunch. Then my ex would join us for dinner later in the day.


I'm on my own now, not near family, so Christmas is quieter. Well, unless you count the three fur kids (cats) attacking the tree and getting into the gifts Mom sends....LOL.

Paula said...

Julie, we did something for a few years we called Stocking Boxes--we didn't have a hearth to hang stockings on, so we got boxes for everyone in the family, and everything we got for Christmas that wasn't a big Christmas Morning type item went into the box. Then on Christmas, we all got to go through our boxes and see what all was in them. It was an extra layer of fun. :)

Kea, I just introduced my kittens to wrapping paper last night. Not intentionally, mind you--they were just running around while I was trying to wrap some gifts, and needless to say, the paper was a big hit! However, they probably won't get to see a Christmas tree this year, since we're keeping them upstairs, away from the big dogs who mostly stay downstairs with my sister in her basement apartment. And since the tree is down there (since she's the one with kids), no chance for the kittens to test their Christmas tree climbing skills. Probably for the best--there are more than a few breakable ornaments on there!