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Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again

Well, it's that time of year again.  Lights.  Decorations.  Family.  Food.  Fun.  Oh, and there's also gifts, but I try not to focus on that part.

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year.  We just have so many family traditions that bring us all closer.  We didn't grow up with very much, but we sure felt rich.  I hope to instill the same ideals into my daughter.  The holidays should be about who you are with, not what they give you.  In these economic times, I feel that lesson is even more important than it was before.  It seems that most families have cut back this year.  The stores don't seem as crowded as before.  I really hope we are swinging the pendulum back away from this insane materialistic culture.

I really hope people are re-discovering the meaning of Christmas.  I really hope they are remembering the small things.  The things that really matter. 

I can still remember all of our traditions growing up.  Can I tell you what I got for Christmas every year? Not even close.  I can remember a few very memorable years-like the one where we woke up with a note from "Santa" telling us to look outside where we found our trampoline.  I can also remember a Christmas where we got the original Nintendo gaming system and two games.  Mario, and The Little Mermaid.  We never received any other games for that system, but we didn't know any better.

What I remember from Christmas are the little things.  Our traditions that we kept up each year as we got older.

I remember getting a new personalized ornament for the tree every year.  Putting out Christmas decorations as a family with the Christmas music on.

I remember wrapping coffee cans with Christmas wrapping paper.  I remember spending hours baking home-made Chex-Mix for all of our friends and family.  I remember delivering those Christmas-wrapped coffee cans to everyone special to us, and seeing their face light up with excitement.  What beats home-made Chex-Mix?!

I remember opening one present on Christmas eve every year-Christmas PJ's that we wore to bed, so our holiday videos would be festive.  I remember waking up before the sun to start Christmas day, and then somehow still running out of time and rushing to my Granny's to eat and spend time as a family.  I remember there being years where 30 people came over to Granny's to celebrate with us, and years that there were just 10 of us.  I remember everyone in the kitchen helping cook.

I remember that no matter what, my uncle would make fun of whatever my mom brought.  He always made fun of her rolls saying she didn't make them right.  They were store bought!!  All you had to do was remove them from the package, put them on a baking sheet, and bake them until they were lightly browned!!  It became quite the little game that everyone (except my mom) looked forward to come dinner time.  I remember the year my mom decided No More Rolls! and asked Granny what else she could bring so "Reid would stop making fun of the **** rolls."  That year, Granny gave mom the recipe for pecan pie, and swore that if she followed that recipe exactly, she would come out with the perfect pecan pie to bring to dinner, that Reid would not be able to find anything wrong with.  Sure enough....the pie came out burnt.  In my mother's defense, though, Granny's recipe was less than perfect!  Silly old Granny wrote down the wrong temperature to bake the pie! So, despite her best efforts, my mother received the teasing of a lifetime at that Christmas dinner.  Pie slices were dropped onto the plates to see how loud of a clunk it would make each time.  My poor mom.  I don't think she brings anything to Christmas anymore.

I also remember the gift-giving at Granny's house.  I remember we would all fight over who got to be "Santa" and hand out the gifts to everyone.  It was usually whoever was learning to read at the time-at least until we got older.  The present opening was a huge ordeal as you can imagine with 30 people in and out of the house, but it was always so much fun. 

As I said, Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Reading through this post makes me realize how long it has been since I wrapped coffee cans and filled them with home-made Chex-Mix. Maybe next year...

Other than that, and going to Granny's, the rest of my holiday traditions are right on par with how I grew up, except they are scaled down for my tiny family up here in Washington.  Somehow, picking out Christmas PJ's, hanging personalized ornaments on the tree, and re-creating the Christmas dinners of my childhood make me feel close to my family again.  I think of them all, gathered around Granny's big table with their wine glasses raised, toasting Christmas, toasting each other, maybe even toasting us. I will then turn to my small little family and toast us, toast Christmas, and toast our extended family back in Texas doing the same thing we are, maybe even at the same time.

This year will be a completely new experience for me.  This year, we will be spending the holiday with Willie's family in California.  I will keep the little things as close to tradition as I can, all the while opening my heart and my mind to new traditions.  Traditions Willie may like to pass on to Addie.  Traditions that we can mix in with mine, and make them completely our own.

What are some traditions you have for the holidays? What are some of your favorite memories? 'Tis the season to share them all!


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