This year Mr. Mitchell and I decided to stay at home for Christmas so that we can start developing our own Christmas traditions for our little family. While I am still very happy with the decision and the lack of travel stress I am feeling a bit nostalgic for my childhood Christmases. I would like to share here a typical Christmas for me growing up in the Holdaway household.
When Christmas time approached there was always a flurry of activity that made everything so exciting. The first thing we'd usually do is get our Christmas tree as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. We never had one of those beautiful Festival of Trees trees, but I always loved ours. Each year every child would get a new ornament, and every year we'd all get to put our collection of ornaments up on the tree. It was a hodge-podge of personality, and very happy. Then there was baking, getting goodies ready for the neighbors (we always delivered popcorn and pop), and lots of present wrapping. With a family of seven kids there was always a mound of presents around our Christmas tree.
On Christmas Eve we'd have a nice dinner and then we'd gather by the Christmas tree for the Christmas story. There was always something so peaceful about sitting in the light of the tree listening to my Dad read about Christ's birth. We were always reminded that God loves us so much he gave us the wonderful gift of the Savior. When it was done everybody would get to choose one gift to open, and then we'd all watch a Christmas movie together. A favorite was A Christmas Story. When the movie was finished we'd set out treats for Santa Claus, and get to bed. All of the kids would sleep in the same bedroom, and being one of the youngest ones it was my job to keep the older ones up in anticipation of what was coming in the morning. My oldest brother, Chris, would tell us funny stories, and after a while we'd all drift off.
Even though I was usually the last one asleep I was still one of the first ones awake. It was my duty to wake up all of the other siblings so we could get Christmas started. We weren't allowed to leave the room until our parents came and got us, and so my brother, Ryan, would blast a Christmas song on his trumpet to let them know we were awake and waiting. They'd come down to the basement to get us, and we'd all have to be wrapped in a blanket so we couldn't see what Santa had brought until we had our breakfast. (Yes, my parents loved the torture.) We'd have toast and orange juice, and at a rather leisurely pace to make it worse, and then we'd get all lined up to go back downstairs to the Christmas tree - oldest to youngest. Being second to last this was even more torturous.
Finally, the big moment! We'd get downstairs and go in search of our stockings which were no longer on their hooks, but instead spread out throughout the room indicating which present Santa left for whom. When I was really little this was an overwhelming process trying to pick out my stocking from seven, but I always had a sibling ready to help. After enjoying our Santa gifts for awhile we'd then open up the mounds of presents from underneath the tree one present at a time. This process took awhile, and was very messy, but eventually it was over, and we were left to revel in the fun of the morning.
As everybody got older and people started leaving home the pile of presents grew much smaller, there weren't as many bodies in the bedroom, Santa's cookies were eaten before bedtime, and the anticipation dwindled, but the memories of those childhood Christmases mean so much to me. That is why it is so important to me that we start having our Christmases at home, and begin to develop our own traditions and memories that our children can cherish forever. I am sure I don't remember things exactly the way they were, but I'm pretty sure I remember the magic, and that's what I want my children to have.
(And since a post feels incomplete without a picture, but I don't possess any of Christmases past, I will include the pictures I used in our Christmas cards.)
Token blog post picture: