Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day One!

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Today’s Advent Calendar question is about Christmas and holiday traditions.  I celebrate Christmas, so many of my questions here will be about Christmas.  However, I recognize that people celebrate other holidays during this month.  If you’d rather answer about that holiday, please feel free!

My family had a few official traditions that I’ll talk more about in later posts (have to save something for the next 23 days!), but an unofficial tradition that I remember fondly (but didn’t think was special at the time) was my mom placing an enormous stack of Christmas records on the big record player that we kept in the living room underneath the grandfather clock.  After cleaning the house from top to bottom, we would take out all the boxes of Christmas decorations and lay them on the chairs and floor of the living room.  While we decorated, the arm of the record player would automatically shift from one record to the next.  To me, it was magic that the record player could do it by itself.  I’ve been listening to Christmas music for weeks now, and each time an older song comes on (“Sleigh Ride” or “Winter Wonderland” or any of the similar ones) I pause and can almost hear it with the ever-so-faint scritch-scritching of the needle against vinyl.

When I was a child and I was actually experiencing the stack of record-player Christmas music, I would have shrugged.  It was just part of life and nothing special.  Now, though, I miss it.  It makes me long for and enjoy Christmas music as an adult now.

What is an unofficial Christmas tradition from childhood that didn’t seem like much then but is meaningful to you now?

 

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57 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day One!

  1. Minelle says:

    All Christmas traditions big and little were meaningful to me. Every year we would go out to buy the Christmas tree my dad would take all 5 of us kids from place to place looking for the perfect tree. We could only buy a certain type of tree. He would haggle about the price and tax always had to be included. Upon getting the tree home it would sit outside until one week before Christmas. That day was so exciting. Mom would start making homemade eggnog and we would listen to Christmas records and begin decorating.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Congratulations, Minelle! You win the very first surprise check! The first commenter and the first post wins a special book-related prize. I’ll be emailing you about the details.

      Yum, homemade eggnog. I have tried to do that but without success. It just tasted like eggy milk. It sounds like such a cozy family time.

      Like

  2. Celeste Jones says:

    Love your description of the record player. Was it one of those big consoles that had a hinged lid on the top?

    My family isn’t big on Christmas so I can’t really think of any traditions. When I was little we used to get to open one present on Christmas Eve and it was always pajamas. Still exciting to finally get to open a gift, though.

    Thanks for the shout out on my free book!

    Like

    • Ana says:

      I tried to remember it for this post, but my parents got rid of it before I was old enough to really remember. It was really big, and I don’t know how to describe it. It was built into what looked like a piece of furniture. The top was smooth and you could put stuff on it, and you opened the lid to the set-in record player. It was probably 1-2 feet front to back, waist-high to a grown-up, and a yard wide. Speakers were built into the front panel, and when the lid was closed it just looked like an ordinary piece of furniture.

      LOL…wait, was that what you were asking me? I have no idea what it was. I haven’t thought about it for years, honestly.

      Oh pajamas and gifts on Christmas Eve…more stories for later posts. 🙂

      Happy to promote!

      Like

  3. blissfulelysia says:

    Oh yes, we had a record player too and did the same thing! What memories you just brought back.
    One of my favorite memories was playing Santa Claus with my sister once the tree was up. We lit the lights of course and played some Christmas music too.
    We were rather young and loved to pretend- elaborate, drawn out pretend.
    First, we would remove a pillowcase from one of our beds and take turns filling it with toys and dolls that we had in our bedroom. The other would pretend to fall asleep in the livingroom and thenwake up to all of the toys or catch him when he was doing his magic!
    Once my mother gave us permission to have cookies on a plate in the livingroom- which was something that we only did when company came. It’s so nice to have cookies with Santa! I love this post. Christmas memories are the best! Thanks Ana! 🙂

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Wasn’t it magic to see the record player arm pop up, the record pop up, and for the arm to slide underneath the top record? It was magic.

      That is adorable about playing Santa Claus! I have never done that, and it sounds like a wonderful activity with little ones. The cookie touch is especially cute. Awww.

      Thanks for sharing your memories.

      Like

      • blissfulelysia says:

        Oh yes, record players were grand technology back then. We had one that could handle 5 records stacked on top of one another. But you had to turn them all over to hear the other side! lol Eight tracks had just come out- no flipping!
        I had a little child sized record player, in a red and white case. We had some special Christmas 45s that I can still sing today. They aren’t very common that I know of, except maybe the Snoopy Red Baron Song. Know that one? I hear that a few times on the radio.
        Our livingroom was for Grown-ups mostly, except at Christmas. Eating in there was a big deal, lol!

        Like

        • Ana says:

          You’re right! I forgot about flipping them over to hear the other side. LOL!

          I have no idea how many tracks they were. I am sure that my mom put on far more than 5 records. Seriously, it was HUGE stack.

          I didn’t know that Snoopy had a Red Baron song! I will have to look it up now.

          Ah, the memories!

          Like

  4. Nikki says:

    I don’t know if this is an unofficial tradition or not but every year over thanksgiving break my mother would make me go through all my toys and collect some to donate. I never quite understood why I had to donate my toys but she said it was to make room for new stuff so I was down with that.

    Like

  5. Sunny Girl says:

    We always put up the tree on Christmas Eve. I was the oldest and knew that Santa was a fantasy so I got to stay up and help my mom decorate the tree. Once my siblings put Santa behind them I missed that special time with my mom.

    Like

  6. Bas says:

    That tradition with the stack of records is still alive here. Only now it is a stack of CD’s placed on the Media Centre. This stack has not changed in many years.
    One tradition from my childhood survived. My mom and all the sons bought a tree and put it up, but then the work stopped. We had to wait for Dad to come home and put the lights in.
    Only after that could we place the other decorations in.
    My father is long dead, but this custom still remains. No one but Dad (nowadays that’s me) puts in the lights.

    Like

  7. Penelope says:

    I’ve been cleaning the house ready for putting the decorations and the tree up today, and the whole time I’ve been trying to think of things my family did that could count as traditions.

    I guess making our wishlists for Santa/Mum was one 🙂 And helping to put the decorations up, as we used the same ones every year so there was kind of a feeling of tradition/continuity there. The fairy always went on top of the tree last of all.

    Also, watching The Snowman and Father Christmas as a family on Christmas Eve. Wonderful!

    Like

      • Penelope says:

        I figured they might be a bit Brit-centric. Father Christmas might not translate so well as its characterisation of Santa is particularly English. But The Snowman is pretty much universal and is a MUST see. (Warning: it has a sad ending).

        Like

        • Ana says:

          Completely off-topic here, but speaking of Brit-centric did you watch Wallace and Gromit? Hilarious.

          I will save The Snowman for a time when I can cope with a sad ending. Boo! 😀

          Like

              • Penelope says:

                lol, this is getting surreal! 😀

                “Ee” is just an exclamation, like “ah” or “oh.” As far as I know it can be positive or negative, so someone might say “Eee!” in satisfaction as they flopped on the sofa and stretched their legs. Or they might say it in exasperation whilst scratching their head, stumped by a problem.

                “By eck” is “By heck” with the ‘h’ dropped (as people do here), so it’s a very mild oath.

                So “Ee, by eck” together translates as “Well, by Jove” or something like that.

                Like

  8. pao says:

    I love record players! Do you still have one with you? Christmas wasn’t a big thing then but mom would put up a little tree and we got to decorate it. I like placing the lights on the tree and having it be the only lighted thing in a completely dark room.

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      • pao says:

        It is really pretty. Love that glow. Hmm..add a fireplace and a rug in the picture. And snow outside. I did manage to find and buy a radio with a record player about 2 years ago from a record store. It was reasonably priced and only the record player was working. But record changing was manual.

        Like

        • Ana says:

          The record players are easier to find than the needles, so once the needle wears down it is hard to find a replacement. I miss the smell of the vinyl records.

          Like

          • pao says:

            That makes sense! I have not reached that stage yet and have not thought about replacement. Now I wonder if CDs have a smell.. Vinyls seem to be making a come back but some of the good, old stuff are really hard to find.

            Like

  9. Sassy Chassy says:

    Reading your post brought back so many Christmas memories! I get very nostalgic thinking about my parents Christmas albums. Our tradition is to pack the kids into the car with hot cocoa and Christmas music and drive around to look at all the lights. There is a local farm equipment pace puts on the BEST light display! It’s such a treat every year! With four teenagers quality time is rare. This is something special that brings us all together.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Oh, the lights! Yes, I will be writing about that as well.

      Christmas makes me feel about four years old again. It’s nice. 🙂

      Are your teens good sports about it, or do they grumble?

      Like

  10. SJ says:

    Wait a second does advent start on the first Sunday of December? I think Ana you may have jumped the gun in your love of Christams. I know I haven’t slept much last few days so I may have to read read the rules. Happy decorating!

    Like

    • Ana says:

      LOL!

      Okay, first of all if you are playing you need to sign up to get credit for your comments. The link is at the top of the post.

      Second, yes you are technically correct. However, this is ANA’s Advent Calendar. 😀

      Laughing here!

      Like

  11. Julia says:

    I loved decorating the tree and checking the lights, to make sure none was loose. And the moment the lights came on … that’s still magic to me. And I have those old, old lights in my own home now.

    Like

      • Julia says:

        No, just simple, plain white lights, shaped like little candles, not flickering or anything. It’s still what I prefer: white decorations, white lights, a real tree that you can smell even before you enter the room.
        That really sets the scene for me.

        Like

        • Ana says:

          Oh, pretty. I think candles on trees are beautiful but I came too late to enjoy those. Now no one will use them because of the fire hazard. Beautiful, though!

          Like

  12. jadecary says:

    We, too, would go all over town looking for that perfect tree. We’d get it home, and like you, Ana, my dad would set up the recordplayer with a stack of records (Johnny Mathis comes to mind), and he’d get all the christmas boxes down out of the garage. Then he would set up the fireplace, and he would let me light it. The most memorable thing to me was setting up the manger scene. It was really old, and I remember the animals I’d set up around the people. He’d set up a blue light bulb through a hole in the back and the blue would illuminate the scene. Then we’d decorate the tree. It was always a flocked tree.

    Like

    • Ana says:

      Nostalgia overload. That reminds me of some Christmas ceramic houses my mom would set up as a village. It used to be on top of one surface, but it grew to the entire living room. I remember putting the light bulbs through the back, too!

      I actually don’t understand the flocking. Did you spray it on?

      Like

  13. abby says:

    Each day in December we would do something special for Christmas. On Dec. 1st we always made a paper chain of 24 onlinkd…one would come off each day til we know it was Christmas. I just made one with my 4 year old grand daughter!
    hugs abby

    Like

    • Ana says:

      I made those in Sunday School, and then when I got older I helped the little kids make theirs. Reminds me that I need to make one this year. They are adorable! Do you put a big yellow star on top?

      Like

  14. kiwigirliegirl says:

    we always had fish for dinnner on xmas eve…because there was so much turkey to come. I still do that now – my kids thnink im crazy.
    hugs kiwixx

    Like

  15. Joelle Casteel says:

    Well there’s general craziness over holidays in my family. My Master, our son, and myself are all agnostic/atheist, but we do have a “holiday tree.” I as well will save some stuff- so I can answer your questions the rest of the month, Ana :D.

    The “unofficial tradition” I adore from my childhood is listening to “Merrry Snoopy Christmas” by The Royal Guardsmen. I’ll have to find my CDs soon. I’d found this set of their music that included more than just the “Merry Snoopy Christmas” songs. Growing up we had a tape for the car and a tape for the house. Having it on tape of course meant having less control 😀 Although the last song on the first side, “I Say Love,” which my mom and I had dubbed “Snoopy in Lingerie” was always fastforwarded past. Although I loved that meant we got to “Down Behind the Lines” quicker.

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  16. Kathryn R. Blake says:

    We did the same thing with the record player, and do something similar now with our CD player. The player/changer in the living room allows for 5 CDs and will play through from the first to the last, when we either start them all over again, or put in 5 new CDs. We have music playing all the time while we decorate, write Christmas cards and sample egg nog.

    As for my Christmas Tradition story, it concerns my grandmother’s “Date, Raisin and Walnut Oatmeal Cookies.” We all loved them, but my uncle (her son) and my stepfather would have “fights” over who got the most. They’d count, then steal from each other’s bag, like kids. One year my stepfather got tired of my uncle stealing his cookies, so just as my uncle was getting ready to leave for his home (they lived about 75 miles away), my stepfather did a quick swap. So, instead of cookies, my uncle ended up with a bag of oranges (the bags were waxed paper, so the deception wasn’t readily visible and my uncle was satisfied with hefty weight of his bag, since he assumed he’d gotten away with stealing my stepfather’s cookies again). After we’d been home from my grandmother’s for about an hour, we received a phone call from my “not-so-happy” uncle. Grouchily, he recounted how he’d just settled down in his comfortable armchair with a glass of cold milk, his mouth already watering in anticipation and he opened his bag…. My stepfather let out a guffaw and bent over with laughter. That was the last time the two of them ever tried to steal cookies from each other. It simply wasn’t worth the potential consequences.

    Like

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