It has to be said. I am a big kid. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it. I love having a big bright tree in my living room. I love sitting in the semi dark with said tree lit up and drinking cocoa. I still feel the anticipation of not being able to sleep I am so excited on Christmas morning. Not because of the presents I am going to receive, but because my memories of Christmas revolve around all of my favorite people.
As a kid, we didn't have much money. I hesitate to say we were poor, but we probably were. I didn't know it of course. My parents took excellent care of my sister and I and never made us feel like we didn't have enough money. They worked hard to give us a very special Christmas and I never remember being disappointed because I couldn't have something I wanted for Christmas. This is probably because they raised me to not be greedy or to expect the most expensive things, but I always remember being so happy with what I did get. Most of my presents I don't really remember, but the feeling of knowing that my mom picked them out special for me, I do remember. I also remember sneaking into the living room so early it was still dark outside to see what Santa had left us. Too excited to sleep after that I would conspire with my sister to wake up Mom and Dad so that we could open presents. What I do remember getting, every Christmas, was pajamas. Mom would let us open one gift each Christmas eve. She would choose which one very carefully. Always it was our new pjs that she wanted us to wear to bed so that we would have them on for Christmas morning. It is a tradition I have kept up with my kids.
After gifts, mom would make a big breakfast and we would listen to Christmas music and get ready for the day.
We went to my Grandma Opal's house, where she always had some small something for each of her 9 children, their spouses, and all of her 18 grandchildren. The gifts would not be something big or costly, but I never cared what I got and was never disappointed in it. It wasn't the gifts that I remember as much as the time spent in her house, with cousins and aunts and uncles coming and going throughout the morning. It is something I miss very much. I miss my Grandma.
We went to my Grandma Faye's and had lunch and spent time with her and my Uncle Larry and Aunt Paula. I remember when my Great Grandma Daily was alive she got me a little musical jewelry box with a dancing ballerina. I remember taking pictures around the Christmas tree with my cousins and Grandma Faye and sometimes the Bride's Delight she would make. It makes me giggle to think of taking pictures with a dessert. But wed did it. Man I miss my Grandma.
We have new traditions now. On Christmas Eve, Jim and I and our kids open our presents. I take great care to pick out something my kids will like. But have tried to instill in them, the excitement of the season is not what you will get, but the memories you will make. We spend the night with Jim's mom and dad and usually watch Elf and eat til we are sick. Santa comes to Nana's house, and just like when I was a kid, even though my kids no longer believe in Santa, he will still bring them gifts. Because it is fun for me.
We spend Christmas Day with my mom and my step dad. We eat, open presents, sit and nap, enjoy each other's company...it is a perfect Christmas day. My daddy is gone now, and I miss him a lot this time of year. Well I miss him all year, but especially this time of year. He loved Christmas. Ever since my daddy died, and my Grandma Faye died, we have tried to spend time with my Uncle Larry and my Aunt Paula at Christmas time. Usually Aunt Paula would pull it all together and we would meet at her house. This is our first Christmas without her. I miss her too.
My memories revolve around people I love. It isn't about gifts. It isn't about fighting crowds to finish shopping. It isn't about getting what you want.
I have to remind myself sometimes that it is truly about Jesus and God's love for us. And I am so thankful because all of the people I miss the most, are spending time with Jesus at Christmas. That knowledge is truly the greatest gift I could ever have.
Now I have to go wash my face. I don't want the kids to see the tears when I wake them to open presents as soon as their daddy gets home. I'm too excited to wait...