Childhood Memories of Christmas Traditions

Happy Holidays! I actually can not believe it’s almost Christmas, like did we not just have Christmas? When I was young my thoughts often drifted to what my dream Christmas’s would be like. I always wanted a big family, lots of kids and my grandparents to be able to live to meet them. Turns out none of that will ever be my reality. Don’t worry, I’m not spending a lot of time dwelling on that. I don’t have time because I have a life that makes me smile, gives me happiness and pleasure. This life has become one that I feel blessed to have. 

That being said, my current life and it’s lack of traditions makes me think more about my childhood and how many traditions we had then. I thought I’d share a few. If you’re a reader of my blogs, you may remember I mentioned that on Thanksgiving we normally put up Christmas. Those first few years we spent in our triple wide trailer is the first Christmas I remember. I’m not sure why I don’t remember more because I was 8 when we started living in the trailer. Anyway, to add to the curiosity of the time frame I remember – I don’t remember Christmas from age 15 to 20. 

So I might start this with how we literally used the same Christmas tree my entire childhood on into teen life. This fake tree that had color coated onto it in layers. We would spend a good hour “puffing” up the tree, then next the colored blinking lights and tinsel would go on. Lastly, the ornaments! My mom had a lot from her childhood, from when she was married to my dad, and she apparently bought me new ones each year. There were a lot of ornaments and red, green, and blue glass bulbs. Oh how I do not miss the glass breaking bulbs. The stringy silver stuff (also called tinsel) that you threw over the top of the tree once done, that I may add you would be cleaning up all year from it. 

After the tree, the rest of the house would get lights strung up, tinsel rope on the curtains, and fake snow from a can on all the windows. We had cut-out Santa and angels we hung on the walls and a lot of trinkets and small items that made my life even more complicated on Saturday’s when I had to dust! Uck, I hated to dust. Then finally someone in our church or in our family would stop by with a live poinsettia, which was my nana’s favorite flower during winter. 

We were happier during those times in my house. My mom would even chill out during the holidays. My great aunts and Uncles would stop by with presents. Cousins from all over would drop by to see my great great uncle Ruby who lived with us. You know back then nobody called – they just went out for a ride and showed up. I don’t know how many times I was rushed to the closet to get changed into something decent! 

Now I grew up in Louisiana so sometimes we were wearing flip flops and tee shirts on Christmas and other times we were having ice storms and living cut off from town. We had a good size porch and I always wanted a decorated, live tree. Sometimes we would decorate it with popcorn, bird seed, or ornaments made at church or school. Mom one year let me string up cranberries for the tree and fruit loops. My holiday wish was a desire for a Christmas puppy, bike, or farm animal. Now God did give me a cow one very cold Christmas who obviously I named Christmas! But that little calf was not under my tree but out in the back pasture! We had to go out and protect her till momma decided to move into the pasture closer to the barn! Oh that barn…. well it was basically four boards with a roof and a divide with a trough! 

Some Christmases were better than others. My deadbeat dad provided entertainment by way of what inappropriate gift he would send that year! From boxes full of McDonald toys, a robot for a boy, Barbie’s that were used, to a scientific book by an atheist… those were all before age 11!  Plus I might mention that sometimes Christmas came in August from him. But my Grandfather (dad’s father), I’m not sure if he was just trying to make up for his son or if the letters I sent him was what made him be so good to me. Every Christmas a $100 check for me and $75 for my mom would arrive then with whatever present was on the market as the “cool toy”. I remember he sent me my first cabbage patch doll, and then when they came out with the ones with real hair, I got one that year!  

The part I loved about Christmas was that I always got a new dress and shoes for Christmas Sunday, or for the night of the play! I loved being in the plays although I could be quite shy. I didn’t love it when I had to talk but I always did well in the end. I was mostly the recurring Mary or the main angel! 1978 in Louisiana seemed to be a good year for boys because my church district seemingly had only boy’s. It makes you wonder why I could not nab a Christian boy to date- oh wait I was too busy trying to attract the bad boys. Oops, let’s reel it back in! 

Every year for Christmas my mom would make me a new dress and every year she would always start it but never finish it till the last minute and boy did that involve me whining and complaining about the numerous fit checks! I didn’t always have a huge Christmas, sometimes it was very sparse but Christmas was always good. My Nana & papaw always made sure I had presents. 

I found this photo, it had to be right after we moved into the trailer – our first Christmas in it. My nana and papaw look so happy! I remember that gift and how much I wanted it! 

We did things a bit differently then. Every Christmas eve, my mom would take my nana and I for a drive to see Christmas lights. I’d normally take a bath first and then we would head out, just to get back home late enough to have missed Santa. Papaw was there to let him in, of course. 

So we would turn Christmas music on and sit around the tree, Nana and mom would have coffee, and we would open our gifts. My uncle ruby always had lots of gifts. He would give me some of his candy lol. Some of my best gifts would be in my stockings – I love stocking gifts!! Then Christmas morning I’d wake up early to play with my toys and have breakfast       (cinnamon rolls) while watching the Christmas Day parades. Papaw would go off visiting people from his church, great aunts and uncles and cousins would drop by… then at some point Nana and I would watch White Christmas. Mom and Nana would cook all day and then we would eat around 6. Papaw and I usually did the dishes and because I insisted on using the china, it was my job to make sure it got put up! Then I was free to play! 

I miss my grandparents every day but Christmas is one of the harder moments. I haven’t had Christmas with my mom in about 13 yrs. Between 16 & 28 years of age there were very few we had together as well, most of them were spent not getting along. Somehow though, all I want is to be with her on Christmas once again. 

Christmas for me changed when I turned 15. My nana was sick – too sick to cook and the next year she would be in the nursing home. I cooked my first Thanksgiving alone at age 15. I don’t know where my mom was. Seems like Nana was either in the hospital or having treatment. Lol that first dinner is a story for another time… 

I need to be off now, and get my Christmas cards done, which is a tradition my Nana started. She could not write after her strokes became worse so I’d write for her. It would take hours upon hours to get her cards done. I send a lot because I just like thinking about Nana doing the same. I love getting snail mail. It’s a highlight of my day when I get some! Cards have always made Christmas so lovely and it’s a fond memory! So I’m off to keep at least one tradition alive! 

I hope you are keeping some of your traditions alive- tell me some in the comments!?

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