Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Traditions and Memories

It has been a very good Christmas. We spent it with family. The house is quiet and seems empty now. I hear everyone talking before Christmas about they will be glad when it's over. Not me. It's over way to soon for me. It's a special time for me, sharing what's new, past stories, and in general just enjoying everyone's company especially family. Why is Christmas so special to me? Because I've tried to make it a special time for me as well as my family. Last year it was confirmed for me that my mission was accomplished. Before I tell you the part about mission accomplished, I would like to share with you what led to my Christmas traditions.

I was an only child. We lived in a somewhat rural area and with modest means. My parents were good people. They did a good job in raising me, instilling good values, what's right and wrong, etc. When I was young we went to church. My father and I joined the Baptist church on the same day and were baptized together when I was eleven. My memories of Christmas as a young child were lonely. There didn't seem to be anyone around. I don't remember the house being decorated and we may or may not have had a tree. By the time I was 15, my parents were divorced and I was living with my father which at the time was my choice. I was dating by then, so at Christmas I was usually at someone else's home with their family seeing their Christmas traditions. I guess I longed for those special times and traditions in my own life.

After I was married and had children of my own, I started what would become my own Christmas traditions. I wanted it to be a special day. (Yes I know it's a special day anyway because it's the day Jesus was born.) One of the first traditions was, no one was allowed to open any gifts until Christmas morning/day. I guess that came from my longing to make this special day last as long as possible. However, my children did have one gift under the tree they could open on Christmas Eve. It was tagged from Santa and it was a pair of new pajamas. Later one my children wanted to know why they always received PJs on Christmas Eve. I told them it was so they would look nice in their Christmas pictures on Christmas morning.

And speaking of Santa, I took my girls to see Santa up until they were about 15. I told them that when they stopped believing in him, he would stop coming to see them. They kept telling me they believed. When they got older, I always tried to find a "real looking Santa" with the real beard and hair not the fake beard and hair. When they were young there weren't as many "real santas" as they are now and sometimes we would have to go a distance and stand in line for hours. One time I took them to see a Santa who knew their Grandmother and he asked them some questions about her and made some comments about her. They were about 5 and 8 at the time. I can still remember their look of surprise when he started talking to them about their Grandma. That was the year we rode the "Pink Pig." Now you would have to live in Atlanta to know about the Pink Pig. To my surprise, while we were waiting on my oldest daughter and her family to arrive, I received a call from her that they were about to ride the Pink Pig. Of course her family was rolling their eyes at her wondering what all this was about, but it was a fond memory of hers. She had ridden it as a child at the Rich's downtown.

I could go on and on about Christmas traditions and stories from Christmas' past. I look back now and I guess my intention was to create a special time to be with family for it was what I yearned for as a child. Last year my children lost their paternal grandmother. At the funeral home my oldest daughter told me that they probably would not be coming to my house for Christmas. She wanted to spend Christmas at home with her family. I couldn't say anything. I understood. She had always made it home all these years for Christmas except for one. The one time she didn't come for Christmas was after she was married and they were living in Biloxi. Anyway, she told me, but she didn't announce this to her family until they got back home. To her surprise they were quite upset that she would even think of them not going to Gran's house for Christmas. Among other things, they had to come for the sausage balls. She offered to make sausage balls, but they told her it would just not be the same. And daughter had not wanted to spend Christmas with her cousins since her grandmother would not be there, but her girls scolded her for that too. It seems they wanted to see all of Their cousins and really enjoyed the day with that part of their family. So when my daughter let me know that they would indeed be coming to my house for Christmas and what had happened when she had informed her family, I knew then my mission had been accomplished for my family even my grandchildren.

But there's more. I have an extended family which are a big part of my life and have come to be a part of our Christmas traditions also. My step son and his family always make it for Christmas too. He has grown into a fine young man and appreciates family and family values and traditions. He and I have remained close since his father passed away. For this I am very glad. I always wanted a son. God is good.

Yes this has been a very good and special Christmas. I am truly blessed and so very glad I made it a point to try and make those traditions and stuck with them all these years. For I hope that it will be those tradions and memories that my children and their children will remember fondly. We managed to make some more special Christmas memories this year.

Merry Christmas and a wish to you and yours for a very Happy and Prosperous 2007!

The Painted Lady



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