Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Favorites

I love Christmas.  I admit it, I really do love everything about it; the noise, the people in the shopping malls, the shopping, the music, gifts, the wrapping, the ribbon, the cards, the chaos in the parking lots (OK, maybe I don't love the parking lot chaos, but it does make me laugh), the baking, the decorating inside and outside the house, all of it just makes me happy.

There are a few highlights to the Christmas holidays that I just love best of all, and because the holidays are about sharing, I'm going to share my favorite holiday traditions and memories. 

Christmas stuff
You know those crazy singing reindeer?  or the Santa doing push ups while the theme from Rocky plays?  or the Santa swaying in a hammock while 'it's 5 o'clock somewhere' plays?  I'm the person who pushes the play button on all those things in the store just to see what they do.  They make me giggle and smile and the temptation is just too much ~ I have to press "play" every time. 

Christmas Baking
Christmas baking was always a special time in our house.  Growing up, I helped my grandmother do the Christmas baking each year.  It was always something we did together and when she passed away, I continued to bake the Christmas treats Gran always made.  In recent years, my niece has joined in by coming over to help me bake.  We laugh and giggle and on more than one occasion there has been cookie dough or icing on the ceiling and no, I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but I can guarantee it was because we were having fun together.

Wrapping & Ribbons
There's just something wonderful about brightly wrapped gifts tied up with ribbon and placed under I tree.  I love the way they reflect the twinkling lights, the array of coloured paper, the way the ribbon curls. Gift bags just don't do it; there has to be paper and especially ribbon, lots of ribbon tied and curled.  According to family and friends, gifts from me are harder to get into than Fort Knox.  

Christmas memories
These are the best part of Christmas and I've been blessed with many years of happy memories and some pretty funny Christmas stories over the years, two of my favorites are Slinky and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.

When I was about 4 years old, I wanted a Slinky and Christmas morning I was overjoyed to find Santa had given me one, along with a beautiful red tricycle.  It was awesome, at least for the first hour or so, until my big brother took my new Slinky and twisted it into the spokes of my tricycle.  My parents tried to get it untangled but sadly the only way that Slinky was coming out of those spokes was by cutting it out with wire cutters.  I was heartbroken.  Strangely, my parents never thought to get me a new Slinky, probably because they figured my brother would find something to twist it into. It was one of those Christmas stories that in later years we would retell and laugh about; if you had celebrated Christmas with us once, odds are you knew the Christmas Slinky story.  

Then one Christmas about 12 years ago, when my sis was dating the guy she would eventually marry, he gave me an Executive Slinky for Christmas.  As silly as it may sound, it was one of my favorite gifts that year and yes, I still have it and every time I see it I smile and yep, I do play with it now and then.  

Then there's our family's version of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  I'm sure most people have seen the Peanuts Christmas classic cartoon where Charlie Brown goes out and buys a Christmas tree that looks pretty much like a little twig with a few pine needles on it.  Well, my story doesn't start quite like that.  Instead, my story involves my younger sister, who at the time was in her late teens or early twenties.  She decided she was going to get a Christmas tree for our livingroom downstairs so we could have two trees in the house.  So, she and a friend went out to pick the perfect tree.  Now, anyone who has shopped for the perfect tree knows, the better the tree, the higher the cost.  Sis had a limited budget, but she was young, cute and a great negotiator.  So with a little negotiating, flirting and flattery she managed to come home with a beautiful huge tree that should have cost her at least twice what she paid.  Now, this tree was literally too tall for our livingroom, so dad pulled out a saw to just cut a little off the bottom.  Well, while dad was great at many things, cutting straight was not one of them, so he cut it and the tree leaned to the left, so he cut it again and it leaned to the right which required another cut and another and another.   Yes, the Christmas tree started off as a 7 ft. tree had been reduced to about 4 ft. by the time he got it straight.  Sis's beautiful tree became known as our Charlie Brown Christmas tree because it had to be placed on a small wooden box (which I wrapped up like a gift), and the box with the tree on top were placed on a small coffee table.  While sis would bemoan the fact that it's now a little tree, dad would simply point out that at least it was straight one.  

Celebrating Christmas in our house is a time of love and laughter, sharing memories and making new ones.  

Our house is always full at Christmas with family and friends.  There has always been a steady flow of people through our home Christmas day.  Dad's friends would stop in first thing in the morning to wish us a Merry Christmas, then mom's family would arrive and stay for lunch, members of dad's family who lived nearby would join us in the afternoon and stay for dinner, and there has always been an array of friends, my brother's friends, my sister's friends, my friends, anyone who couldn't make it home for Christmas or who didn't have family to go home to joined us.  There is always room for one more, especially since we use a ping-pong table as a dining room table to make sure everyone has a place at our table.  There is always more than enough food, fun, laugh and love to share, and really, isn't that the true meaning of Christmas?  

May your holiday celebrations be filled with the love and peace, joy and laughter, that the season is meant to celebrate.