Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Traditions Through the Years

I'm someone who has never been a fan of growing up. While I don't mind change, big change that growing up brings about is not something I enjoy. I hated living on campus at college. I hated my brother moving out when I was in my senior year. And I hate how much Christmas has lost it's magic on me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still like a big kid at Christmas. I still get extremely excited, looking at all those presents under the tree. My mom still makes up stockings for my brother and me. I still have trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve.

But it's a lot different without my brother here to share in the spirit of Christmas.

I've been seeing a lot of Christmas posts, as people celebrate early with family and friends. So I thought it would be interesting to talk about my traditions.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve has never been all that different than any other day in my family. My mom has tried to start traditions with my family to no avail. It's usually a day spent relaxing and then going to the Christmas Eve service at my church. This year, we're members at a new church and going to their 3pm service. My pastor kept telling us how it's his "most favorite" so I'm really excited about it!

Other than the year when I was nine, we've never opened presents on Christmas Eve. For some reason, that year, my mom and dad let us pick out two gifts. I spent so much time hemming and hawing about which present open. I was trying to decide between a smallish, rectangular package (which ended up holding 3 Baby-Sitters Club books) and a huge gift. I opened up the huge gift, which ended up being the awesome board game, Mall Madness. Basically, it's a game where you have to buy purchases from specific stores to win. It's such a fun game! My brother's gift he opened was a dart board. So while my dad and brother set up the dart board and played, my mom and I set up Mall Madness and play. I can remember this night like it was yesterday.

Anyway, I like the anticipation of Christmas Eve. When I was in sixth grade and my brother in seventh grade, we began spending the night in the same room. We would try our best to stay up the entire night, but I only ended up doing this once when we stayed the night at my uncle's house and had his plethora of movies to entertain us. Usually, we would play games and just talk. This is what I miss most. While I cherish the relationship I have with my brother now and we're a lot closer than when we were younger, I still miss this tradition. We share the same excitement and anticipation of Christmas and it was so much fun to experience Christmas Eve night with him.

Christmas Eve now is celebrated with my mom and I. As I mentioned before, we go to a Christmas Eve service at church. We don't have any traditions set in stone right now, we're still trying to discover some. Last year, we made Christmas cookies and watched a movie. This year, we're hoping to eat out at a restaurant, make Christmas cookies, and watch a Christmas movie. (Any suggestions? Other than Elf, which we already own and will be watching anyway!)

Christmas Day
Christmas Day is very laid-back. When I was younger, my brother and I would wake my parents up at 6am to open presents. When we got a little older, my mom made us wait until 7am to open presents. (Oh, the horror!) We would open presents, clean everything up, and then attempt to eat breakfast.

But let's face it: when surrounded by tons of new toys, who wants to sit down and eat breakfast?

Around two or so, the family would head over to my grandparent's house to have Christmas dinner. There, we would open more presents which always got extremely hectic and crazy. After a few hours with family, we would come home.

Christmas evening is usually extremely low-key. It's always filled with bitter disappointment and sadness as the holiday season is over. Soon, Christmas music will be off the radio, we'll have to take the Christmas tree to the trash, and take down all our ornaments and Christmas decorations. I hate Christmas evening. My mom and I usually play a board game while eating more junk. I love board games and my mom and I play them on a weekly basis. So I receive a couple on Christmas and what's more fun than playing a brand-new board game? Not much, my friends, not much.

My parents mom has never disappointed me during Christmas. (As much as I tease her about never having a Barbie Jeep, it's true!) It's the one time of year she really goes all out and buys us a lot. She wasn't the type of mom to buy us things because we wanted them. We either earned them (for good grades or good behavior) or bought them ourselves. Never did we spend $50 at the mall on the Saturday to buy stuff "just because." Birthdays were always low-key, too. We received a few presents, but nothing anything big.

But Christmas? Mom outdid herself every single year. (I'm sorry if I brag about my mom too much on this blog but she deserves all the bragging! It's all true!) We always had tons and tons of presents lying under the Christmas tree and stocked our stockings FULL.

It wasn't until I was in 8th grade and my brother was in 9th grade that my mom finally started receiving presents of her own. (My dad never gave her gifts. Not even for her birthday or their anniversary.) My brother was working then and it felt so nice to bless her with gifts.

Do you celebrate any of the same holiday traditions with your family? Do you still feel the same excitement and anticipation of Christmas as when you were a kid (like I still do!)?
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