Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

Well, we made it through another Christmas. And Megan’s all geared up for the next one. She’s been talking about it since the day after, even though we’ve been telling her it’s an entire year away. That doesn’t seem to dampen her enthusiasm any; she just smiles and says it’s next week and we should keep the tree up for it. ;)

We had a great day, once again filled with traditions. They are what keep us grounded, bind us together as a family, and have a familiar rhythm throughout the years.

Ours start any time in the month of December, with crafts usually involving a tree ornament, as well as taking a drive through local neighborhoods to look at the lights, family parties, and doing an advent calendar that I made myself, the items inside relating to certain scriptures regarding the birth of Christ and the plan of salvation.

Most holiday traditions involve food, and yes ours do too! Growing up, my mother baked gingerbread cookies and my siblings and I decorated them with the colored icings she made and all the tiny decorations she could find. Back then we always had the usual colored sugars and jimmies to go on top, but we also used cinnamon hearts and silver balls. That was back before people started getting anxious about the consumption of silver. Do you know how many of those silver balls I ate as a kid? 

My mom would bake a bazillion gingerbread cookies of  many different shapes, lay out the colored icings and array of decorations, and let us have at it. 

We listened to Christmas albums and one of them was the Do Re Mi Children’s Choir, with very familiar songs. Just hearing those songs brings me back to those innocent times. 

When I had my own children, I carried on the cookie decorating tradition with them, right down to a cassette tape of that very Do Re Mi Children’s Choir album. As the kids grew, I started including neighbor children, most of whom had never decorated cookies in their lives, which amazed and saddened me, and then the cousins joined the annual event. It got large enough that I ended up having it in my sister’s kitchen the last 2 years or so that we lived in MA, because hers was a little larger than my own.

This year we were running a little late because I had an extra project to do right during the week between my birthday and Christmas day. But the kids didn’t mind doing it the day after; at least they got to do it. And yes, in that picture Timothy is indeed decorating his hand with the icing; there is no cookie in his hand. ------>

Christmas Eve, which in my family is sometimes more special than Christmas day itself, has it’s own traditional supper foods for us. Again, carrying on some traditions from my childhood, I make clam dip with my mother’s recipe, and we have homemade or store bought onion dip. We have shrimp cocktail, which the kids LOVE, and a relatively new food was added a few years ago: Buffalo Chicken Dip. <---you can find that recipe at The Magic Meal Fairy

The kids are caught between wanting to stay up late because they’re kids, and going to bed early because they want Christmas morning to come. Phil and I are caught between wanting them to go to bed early because we’re tired and we want to haul the presents out of their hiding places and under the tree, and wanting them to stay up late so maybe by some miracle they’ll sleep late because we’re so exhausted. ;)

Christmas morning we had our usual orange cinnamon rolls, which we have for breakfast on Thanksgiving too. We only have them on those two holidays. But since Caity and I each bought some for Christmas, not knowing the other had, we’ll be having them on New Year’s day as well. Hehehe

After the rush of opening presents and listening to the kids’ excited cries of, “Look!! Look what I got!” died down, we ate our orange cinnamon rolls and generally settled into a day of relaxation and play with our gifts. But I had forgotten one of Caitlin’s presents, a door mirror. I hadn’t wrapped it because it was so big, so Timmy came with me to get it and bring it out to her. She was so funny when she got it; she was holding the mirror and smiling at her image and saying she’d found the perfect person for herself! Of course I had to take a photo of it. 

I wished I had a video camera for earlier when Timmy had carried it out for me. He walked along, then happened to turn his head and notice his reflection in the mirror. Without missing a beat, he smiled at himself and made a clicking noise with his tongue, pointing his L-shaped hand at his image as he did so. You know, like he was giving approval to himself in the mirror. Oh my goodness, I could have died at how funny it was! This is why I need a camcorder installed in my forehead or something, so I can capture these spontaneous things!

One tradition I had started when my girls were very little is eating a pound of Russell Stover chocolates. I think one of my paper route customers had given a box of them to me for Christmas, and we ate them on Christmas day and then every year bought a pound for it. 

It must be eaten Christmas day, with our loins girded, shoes on,  and our staffs in our hands, and any remaining chocolates must be taken to the edge of the property and burned. Oh wait, I may be getting this mixed up with the Passover meal and the Israelites. Well, we do have to eat it all on Christmas day; that much is true.

So, Ryan and Timmy loved their bikes, which Phil and Caitlin had placed out on the front walk for the boys to see for the first time that morning. They were thrilled with them, and immediately went out to ride. Ryan’s bike seems to be a little too big for him, but Phil taught him a way to get it going and then sort of jump on it with one foot stepping up onto the pedal, and it’s working for him. 

They have loved these bikes and ridden them on and off all day long since they got them. And after lurching forward and landing on the bar, they have learned that it’s not a good idea to switch gears while the bike is standing still and then ride it. Unless you happen to like singing soprano. ;)

Ahhhh, what a day it was. And thankfully, no matter what Megan says, it is indeed a whole year away. ;)

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