Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 15: Holiday memories

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A Canadian friend sent me a holiday package after we had a discussion about Canadian versus US names for candy.

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Smarties in the US are small, chalky round discs that are packaged in rolls of cellophane wrap:

 

US Smarties

In Canada, however, Smarties look like this:

Instead, the Canadian version of US Smarties are called Rockets:

You can read all about the differences here.

She also sent a Ring Pop, watermelon flavor:

I hadn’t had a Ring Pop since I was about eight, and it transported me back to childhood.

I am licking a watermelon Ring Pop, and all of a sudden I am eight years old again. Paying a dime at the concession stand in between softball games and jamming my thick hair into a ponytail through the back of my hand-me-down navy blue baseball cap that I wish were pink. ‪#‎nostalgia‬

As some unexpected complications have arisen in my holiday plans, I’m feeling more and more wistful for an old-fashioned Christmas. Maybe nostalgia is really poor memory, and childhood celebrations weren’t as good as I remember. But still, I remember so many pieces that carry meaning today:

  • My dad driving us around after dinner to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Of course, we couldn’t care less and instead wanted to hurry home and open presents.
    .
  • My dad buying peppermint ice cream in its Christmas packaging. I buy myself flavored ice cream now (when I eat it, which isn’t often), but ice cream only came in vanilla in my parents’ house.
    .
  • Sitting together with my family for Christmas Eve service, usually mid-afternoon, and trying to guess the candle messages. In our sanctuary, there were small openings around the top of the walls. By placing candles in strategic locations, lighting them, and squinting to make the lights blurry, the candles could display pixelated words such as JOY, PEACE, or perhaps a line of a Bible verse. Each year meant a new message, and one year as part of my confirmation service I helped lug ladders and haul candles up and down. Up and down. It was a long afternoon trying to follow penciled Xes on a guide, but that year I knew the secret candle messages.
    .
  • Getting sick for several Christmases, and every time getting a new set of pajamas. To this day, I associate Christmas pajamas with strep throat, ear infections, and colds.
    .
  • Making Christmas cookies. My mom despised cooking as female bondage (and not the kinky kind), so Christmas was a rare opportunity to have fun in the kitchen. (What do you get when you match a mother who hates cooking and a daughter who loves it? Lots of conflict and a frustrated chef-to-be.) I loved rolling out flatbread, decorating spritz, and *gasp* making the decadent peanut butter blossoms that took a whole Hershey’s kiss for every cookie! (Not every Hershey’s kiss made it to the cookies. Just sayin’…) We each got to choose one special treat.

Not on my list of favorite memories is taking the annual Christmas picture. I don’t photograph well, and I hated the fuss. To this day, I still hate most of our family pictures. Maybe at some point I’ll be glad to have them, but it hasn’t come yet.

What about you? What are your favorite and not-so-favorite holiday memories? They can be from childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

 

 

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99 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 15: Holiday memories

  1. Tina S. says:

    As a child we always put the tree up on my birthday, which happens to be today, 10 days before Christmas. Now as an adult as nod having my own family it goes up the day asunder thanksgiving. As a child we always got to open 1 present the night before Christmas, and it was always a new pair of pajamas. I also continued that tradition with my children, and added in a new ornament also, so they get 2 presents before bed on christmas eve. I will always remember ribbon candy, as it was my Grammy’s favorite candy. She will always ways be missed and I still get teary eyed when I see them at the store. Another tradition that stayed with me that I share with my kids is baking a cake together, decorating it, and singing happy birthday to Jesus, after all I grew up knowing why we celebrate Christmas as do my kids. We always knew Santa was a part of christmas but not who we received gifts from. And I taught my kids the same value. This year however I find myself pulling away from what I was taught and what I taught my children.

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  2. abby says:

    Tis the season of man;y memories. We always got to open 1 present before going to bed on Christmas Eve…they were the gifts from mom and dad…Santa had not come yet…Lo and behold …that present was always PJ’s…..guess what the grands open now on Christmas eve?
    Both my parents came from families of 11 children…we celebrated with my dad ‘s family on Christmas eve…always with ‘pork pie’ for the meal…..and each got one present.
    On Christmas afternoon we celebrated with mom’s family…they were much more fun…Santa made His last stop for the day..and everyone bought their favorite goodies.
    As soon as December 1st came around we put up 1 decoration a day…the first was always a paper chain we made to count down the days til Christmas.
    It is a time of year of old and new traditions….
    hugs abby

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, that reminds me. I was able to open one present Christmas Eve, too. Funny. I don’t remember a single of those early gifts, but I do remember the excitement of opening them. And everyone can use a new pair of pajamas. 🙂

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  3. Roz Harrison says:

    Happy Birthday Tina! Hope you have a wonderful day. I love your family traditions 🙂

    I remember the excitement of Christmas Eve. No gifts were put under the tree until Christmas Eve and the excitement when we had worn Mum and Dad down enough to agree to bringing them out. There would often be a neighborhood party somewhere Christmas Eve also.

    Waking up at the crack of dawn Christmas morning to see what had been left in our pillow cases at the end of our beds … always the ‘quiet’ gifts lol.

    Making the Christmas cake and pudding with Mum.

    My favourite memory is the year my grandparents visited from the UK and spent Christmas with us.

    Hugs
    Roz

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You didn’t get to shake presents in the days before Christmas? Gosh, I remember loving that. I hadn’t heard of pillow case gifts, but that sounds neat…a way for Mom and Dad to get a bit more sleep, I imagine.

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    • Tina S. says:

      That’s a neat idea with the pillow cases, we got to have our stockings which are crochet so they stretch and hold and bunch of presents. They were and ways left and last the end of the bed and I continued thay with my kiddos also

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      • Katie says:

        We always did that too! We got the extra minutes. It worked! LOL! But the thing that I really enjoyed was listening to them when they woke up and looked in their stockings. They would often wake someone else up and go through their stockings together. It was so cute! Sometimes it was the wee hours of the morning and then they would go back to sleep. Sometimes later. LOVED those days! 🙂

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  4. sassytwatter says:

    Ok you had me at Candy….I’m a totally candy whore! Just the gummy sugary stuff! Swedish fish swedish berries oh my and well I do have a serious love of pB. I’m the person who snuggles kilos and kilos of it back from Sweden. Loved your trip down memory lane. My parents are the same only vanilla excisists and their home. For me Christmas is about unwrapping the ornaments & remembering where we got them playing with the figurines setting up the train yrack making food for Swedish Christmas table sugar cited ham and herring two main dishes. And always new pjs on Xmas eve. Also for the last 15 years I have done a girls tea with my sister and two best friends….something that we just did yesturday. This year we ate trying to establish new traditions for our baby daughter that we will have for years to come as a family. We went and got a tree together (she barely noticed she’s only 3 months) but doing lots of thjbgs as a family. Trying to create the spirit of Christmas being together enjoying the season driven around looked at the lights while listening to holiday music. Even went to visit Santa. Can’t wait to ready about others holiday traditions and memories. Oh and if anyone knows a good place to buy a forever stalking I wanted I get that for my daughter for Christmas as her forever talking she has growing up. Happy holidays!

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      lol…Yes, you and your candy. You’ll never give your baby candy because you won’t want to share. 😀 The tea sounds like so much fun, and I think it’s cute you’re getting a Christmas tree. I still want you to get a dreidel ornament for it. 😀 I can’t wait to see the Santa pics!

      What do you mean by a forever stocking?

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    • Amy says:

      I’m not a fan of swedish fish, but I do love those berries, and I’m a HUGE fan of gummy stuff. My favorites are gummy bears, gummy worms, and orange slices.

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  5. Chickie says:

    My fondest memories are really with my Grammy and Grampy. The warmth, the silliness, the amazing food, and especially our Christmas Eve gifts. Santa always made a pit stop there before heading on his usual rounds to the rest of the world. Grammy was quite literally the glue that held my family together. The extreme level of dysfunction on both sides was tamed for her. after she passed away we were all left with the reality of who we are.

    So this year, I was determined to have a real memory from my immediate family that was special to me. It took a lot of thinking… sigh.

    My mother decided to make Grammy’s sweet yeast rolls one year. The recipe as written only made two dozen. I personally could pack away that many, so she knew she needed more to feed the extended family of 40ish people who would be at her mothers on Christmas afternoon.

    I remember being awoken in the middle of the night to help with the dough, kneading while nearly asleep and I was probably around 10. I remember her tripling the recipe and a comment about adding extra yeast to make them fluffier (’cause her mother in law – my Grammy – didn’t know what she was doing). I also remember being told to set my alarm for 4 a.m. because I needed to punch down all the bowls quickly and then go back to sleep. We had a small oven and they’d be cooking all day, so that’s why the middle of the night wake up came about.

    Then came the not so fuzzy part of the memory, what left me sittin’ pretty all day at Christmas. That part was almost worth it though 😉

    I’d either fallen asleep on my way back to bed and didn’t set the alarm or set it wrong. It was the twisty peg in the back type with precisely zero accuracy when you were fully focused on the job. Or, as I was accused of doing, I might’ve turned off the arm and gone back to sleep.

    When my mother got up at 6 a.m. for her turn to beat the dough (but instead beat mine) it had risen out of the bowls like a monster and oozed down the front of the oven, down counters, all over the place. The kitchen smelled divine! There was plenty of ckean dough to make plenty of rolls so really worked out in the end. I never lived it down, though now that my mother is gone it’s become a funny story!

    This whole scene really summed up the comical dysfunction of our lives. Really what’s etched in my mind is hysterical, just the flash of me and my brother stifling our snickers to avoid her wrath but dying in the inside as she pondered how to deal with a kitchen that had been quite nearly swallowed by out of control bread dough.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL. Extra yeast to make it fluffier? And I’m not sure how old you were, but waking up at 4 AM to punch down bread dough is a big job for a kid! Bet your mom didn’t know that she could put the dough in the fridge to rise more slowly…LOL. I have never seen dough rise out of its container because I use big bowls, but I can just imagine the mess. Bet you never made that mistake again. 😀

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      • Chickie says:

        Unreasonable requests and reactions to my failure… that’s what it was all about! I think even if she knew about the fridge trick it wouldn’t have worked due to the sheer quantity of dough we had to deal with – no room! Oh, but seeing the mess was sooooo worth every bit of trouble I caused 🙂

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        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          lol…and you wonder why you’re always in trouble. 😀 Yes, cool temperatures will slow down yeast, but then again not adding extra will do the same. LOL. First time I’ve ever heard of adding extra yeast to make bread fluffy. Usually, if you’re keen on bread-making you use less yeast for a slower rise…more flavorful that way. Still funny, though. Miss trouble.

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  6. Holla Dean says:

    My parents are immigrants from Europe, Austria and Hungary. Our big gift opening was always Christmas Eve, not Christmas Morning. It meant we got our gifts before all our American friends who had to wait until morning. My grandfather would take us for a walk while Santa Claus came and left the gifts for us. We would bundle up and window shop on North Avenue in Chicago for about 45 minutes. My brother and I would keep turning around trying to see Santa land on the roof of our house with his reindeer and sleigh while Opa admonished us and said Santa wouldn’t leave us anything good if we were trying to see him. It was so exciting to know that while we were strolling so nearby, Santa was delivering our presents. And I was so jealous that my parents and grandmother were able to stay at home while Santa came.

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  7. Leigh Smith says:

    Thinking about when our llittle was little. I’m not much of a baker, but at Christmas time I always got the urge to make cookies. Daughter’s favorites inlcuded what we called Chrischicke’s (have no idea of the spelling) but it was bascially fried dough and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. She loved to coat them with sugar and one year she put them in a bag and shook vigorously. You can guess the problem, the bag sprung a leak and there was confectionary sugar everywhere.
    We still laugh about it today.

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  8. Renee says:

    Christmas for me growing up clearly defined the dysfunction of my family. We were not allowed to decorate until Christmas Eve because it would mess up the perfect house. Then we spent the whole day running from house to house to show off what a perfect family we were to everyone else in the family. After my parents divorced it became even crazier because then we (the children aged maybe 11 and 4) had to make sure we spent equal time with both sides. As I got older I came to hate Christmas Day because of being pulled in so many directions. I decided then that Christmas would be different for my children. As soon as we started having children I stopped going anywhere on Christmas Day. If you wanted to see my family you would come have dinner with us. Many years later and many miles away from any family except hubby and children, Christmas has developed into a beautiful time of family and love. We start decorating on Black Friday. On Christmas Day we have a quiet dinner at home and we spend time with each other. Sometimes the oldest child doesn’t make it home for Christmas but it is okay because she is with her family. And that is Christmas to me family, love, and sharing.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You know, I think the traditional British way was for parents to decorate the house and tree Christmas Eve while the children slept. They woke up to a Christmas tree in the morning. And what stress, trying to please both sides of the family. I am glad your children get to experience Christmas as an oasis and not a battlefield.

      And how true: And that is Christmas to me family, love, and sharing.

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    • Chickie says:

      Christmas had lost all its magic for me until my kids were old enough to really get into the spirit. Now it’s all for them obviously and they warmed my heart in return. This was the first year I truly didn’t dread. My little grinchy heart is growing 😉 I’m really getting into making traditions for them and giving them fond memories that we can all share.

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      • Renee says:

        Hi Chickie, Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through. My children have actually made Christmas a wonderful holiday again for me. Blessings, R

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  9. ruthshulman says:

    Happy Birthday, Tina, and many happy returns!

    Holiday memories with the family… Putting out the creche was my favorite thing, along with decorating the tree. We each had a favorite figure or ornament and placing them in just the right place according to our child’s eyes was always fun. (My favorite creche pieces were the animals…go figure. 🙂 )

    My mother also made Peanut Butter Blossom cookies. Pressing the Kisses in the half-baked dough seemed to have that little tinge of something “dangerous” since Mom generally didn’t want little hands near the oven.

    Dad was not home every Christmas; he was in the Marine Corps and served several tours in Vietnam. I seem to recall one Christmas when I was very young when we received a “radio phone call” from him. I am at this point uncertain about this memory; it was so long ago. Maybe I just wished I could talk to my dad… Nevertheless, it “feels” like a true memory.

    🙂

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL…of course you liked the elephants best, or you pretended the donkey was an elephant. What is a radio phone call? And I think sometimes our memories are our wishes…as I get older, I revisit childhood memories and treasure them.

      Now I want peanut blossom cookies. Yum.

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      • ruthshulman says:

        Me too! The cookies, I mean. I have my mother’s recipe, but they do not taste the same.

        I used to ask my mom whether any elephants came to see the Baby in the stable. She said probably not, because elephants would be too big. (Too big? That would never do… 😀 )

        If I recall correctly, the radio phone call was sorta-kinda like what happens with deaf interpreter calls these days. Dad would be on a radio, they would call us and we could hear Dad sounding far off. That far off sound is an absolutely clear memory, but… you see how it is. I miss both parents. A call from somewhere far away would be welcome. (If somewhat disconcerting…)

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  10. SH says:

    Christmas when I was growing up was a day that my step father would be a little nicer than usual, which was a good thing, considering his behavior the rest of the year. We always had an artificial tree and I also remember decorating the tree and having to put on tinsel…one strand at a time lol On Christmas eve we always got to open one gift and my mom tried very hard to make Christmas special and for the most part it was.

    When I got married I refused to have an artificial tree so for the last 29 years we have always had a real tree and it will always be that way. Needless to say, absolutely no tinsel ever. But lots of lights, like 1500 lights on an 8ft tree, my favorite thing:) I did continue the tradition of opening a present on Christmas eve with my children and now that they are grown with families of their own, we actually celebrate our family Christmas on Christmas eve. There were two things I always wanted for Christmas that I never received, Lifesaver book (you know the box that looks like a book and has rolls of Livesavers inside) and an Easy Bake oven. So, my children get those Lifesaver books every year in their stockings, even now that my oldest is 27, and when my six year old son asked for an Easy Bake oven one year, Santa brought him one 🙂

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Tinsel…we never did that. The more I see people using it now, the gladder I am I didn’t have to pick it up afterward. 🙂 That’s what garlands are for. I miss having a real tree. It’s so much work and it does get it expensive, but there’s nothing to beat the smell of a fresh tree. You wanted an Easy Bake oven, too! We’re in good company. 🙂 Did you ever get a Lifesaver book for yourself?

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      • SH says:

        Costco had a great deal on fresh trees this year. 7-8 ft Noble Fir for $44.99 which was a steal considering I was usually paying $80 – $100 each year. It is a lot of work but I love it 🙂 Sadly, I never got a Lifesaver book for myself. I love buying them for my kids though. 🙂

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        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          Wow…that’s still a lot of money! I got a 7.5 foot prelit fake tree for $50 a few years ago. It was $200 regular price, 50% off because it was the day after Christmas, and an extra 25% off because it was the display model without a box. Best $50 I’ve ever spent. 😀 The problem is that I never plug it in because I don’t know how to get replacement lights.

          I think you should get a lifesaver book. 😀

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          • SH says:

            I still look at them every time I buy them for my kids, but buying for myself just would not be the same….

            Great deal on your tree, but you don’t turn the lights on? The lights are the best part!! 🙂

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    • Tina S. says:

      I remember thoes lifesaver candy books I got them every year. I never had a real tree growing up my parents always thought ot was a fire hazard. I was gonna start getting a real tree with my family, but my hubby also thought it was dangerous. I was out voted and still think it’s not fair. We did get a prelit tree that we have had for 14 years

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      • SH says:

        Sorry, you got out voted. But, I am extremely careful with my tree and I water it all day long because, literally, it drinks two 2 Liter soda bottles of water every day!

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    • AFOdom says:

      This is the first year we’re putting up a tree since my son was diagnose with severe allergies two years ago (we traveled last year). We purchased an artificial one, because one of the things he’s allergic to is a type of mold that grows in damp wood. With a live tree have to be kept watered, it just wasn’t an option. We put up our artificial tree last night, and while we had fun decorating and everything looks nice, he still had some sadness over not having a real tree this year. He said it’s not so much the tree as our tradition of going out and getting the tree. I told him we could carry the artificial tree around the block, then bring it inside. He said no, just one tree wouldn’t cut it. I told him we could ask all our friends with artificial trees to come put them in our yard, then everyone could pick out their same tree and bring it back home. By that time he was laughing, and we were all cheerful again. His sister also told him “I miss the real tree, too, but I sure would rather have you alive and in the house rather than dead or in the ER.” 🙂

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      • SH says:

        Carrying the tree around the block! How cute is that?! One of my daughter-in-laws has to have an artificial tree at their house because several of her family members are allergic. Gotta do what ya gotta do as they say 🙂

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  11. Joelle Casteel says:

    I’ll share two- one if the Royal Guardsmen’s “Merry Snoopy Christmas,” which I have playing on Spotify. It’s one of the very few things related to my parents and siblings that I don’t hate. Since I’m feeling depressed angry, and all out negative this morning, yeah the music. I wish I could get holiday spirit into my family, except all 3 of us have more bad than good memories with the holiday season. The one from my dominant and my now-teen… it was a few years ago and Shaman had finally gotten a good job. We were setting up a plastic tree (Shaman’s seriously allergic to pine, so no real trees for us). I forget how old my son was, maybe 9 or so. Trying to get the try to look better, Shaman stepped back and told son “You need to be a better fluffer.” Well roommate and I immediately started laughing because of Shaman’s unintended connection to the adult movie industry. Son being a kid of this generation ran off to his computer to google what a fluffer is and made faces at us for laughing.

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      • Joelle Casteel says:

        yeah 🙂 I’m thinking when “The Well of Loneliness” arrives at my library for me (special request) that I’m going to pick up Charlie Brown Christmas. Maybe if my Master remembers His happy pill, we can enjoy the movie and it won’t be so bad

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  12. P.T. Wyant says:

    We usually put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and made a party out of decorating it, with Christmas music, potato chips and dip, and eggnog (cut with root beer — it kind of tastes like a really rich root beer float).

    I loved decorating. My favorites were a pair of glass (or ceramic?) parakeets that were older than I was.

    Christmas itself was… too much. We’d have two Christmases at our house — one with friends of the family and one with just us. Then we’d go to my grandmother’s, and then to friends in another city. So four Christmases spread out over a week or so. (Then around Easter or so, back at Grandma’s, either she or my aunt would have found a present that they had forgotten they had at Christmas.)

    My least favorite thing was the day after Christmas when my mother insisted on going shopping for decorations that had gone on sale. (Never mind that we could probably have decorated an entire forest of Christmas trees…) I hate shopping and hate crowds and hated being dragged out in the cold to drive all over Western Pennsylvania to go shopping.

    When I moved out on my own, I swear my mother didn’t see it as losing a daughter so much as gaining an excuse to buy more Christmas ornaments…

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Eggnog and rootbeer? Wow…I have never heard of that, but it makes sense. I might have to give it a try. 😀

      LOL about buying more Christmas ornaments. I’m a pack rat myself, so I can see it…I can also see the appeal of living in de-cluttered spaces. I always promise myself not to collect so much stuff…

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  13. Sarah Bennett says:

    Hi Ana and all

    How very fun to read about your Christmas memories!! 🙂

    I also recall driving all around our little town in Central Illinois to view the lights from Thanksgiving on. We’d often go out as a huge treat to get Monicals super thin pizza and then listen to Christmas tunes on the radio.

    Also my dad loved to get peppermint ice cream during holidays too.such a treat!!
    He loved mint chocolate chip ice cream as a treat too throughout the year but the holiday ice cream had peppermint chunks in it. So fancy!!

    We always used to attend a Christmas Eve service at 11pm each year. The most magical times were when it’d snow by midnight as we walked out from the service. Winter Wonderland!! Pristine and peaceful and so magical!!

    My parents would often host Christmas parties on Christmas Eve afternoons and evenings before the late service at our large old brick home. We’d make tons of cookies and mom would make two huge crockpots if Italian beef anf lots of crusty french bread. Guests would bring side dishes and desserts. Dad would load up the stereo with tons of Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo holiday records. We would sit and laugh and talk and run trains, have cocoa and cookies. Fun fun times!!

    I also recall making gingerbread houses with my older sister’s Girl Scout troop in the early 80’s. We baked gingerbread and all. It was crazy and fun and messy! My mom was leader for my sisters and my gs troops all along and tried hard to give us and many local girls amazing experiences. Such wonderful times.

    I recall after the midnight services it was our family tradition to drive around to look at lights . Then we’d head home to open one small Christmas gift and take our family photo using the tripod and timer. 🙂 photos were inevitable in our house and pre digital technology always meant fun times viewing developed slides on the big screen later.

    I remember one year, mom and dad gave my sister and me a huge. Christmas coloring book. We laid on the floor for hours coloring monster pics of santa and reindeer! Such fun to wile away many snowed in days!

    Can’t wait to read more of everyone’s memories!! 🙂
    hugs and blessings
    Sarah

    My dad had and still has a large collection of American Flyer model trains. It was always part of our jobs to help lay down track etc. My dad had a coal loader and tressels &, bridges as well as a “talking station” announcing that trains were leaving for ” all points west…boooooard”
    We loved to press the button over and over!

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      11 PM, wow. It’s hard for me to imagine such a late night service. The Christmas parties sound like so much fun. Yum! I think I only made one gingerbread house as a kid…it was part of a school project and I couldn’t understand using candy for decorating instead of eating. The coloring book sounds awesome. Heck, I’d like one of those now! Hehe.

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  14. lara estes says:

    Around this time of year I can literally smell cookies baking in my mothers kitchen. Of course that was a lo my time ago, but it seems like yesterday. On Christmas eve my dad would make pasties which was the most important meal over Christmas dinner.
    Out side of that my memories are of me having to wait 4 days to open my birthday presents. So Christmas and I have a love hate relationship.

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  15. Laurel Lasky says:

    We didn’t have a Christmas tree but hung up stocking. That was fun. We lined in NY state and would drive into the country to a farm stand and drink apple cider. The other memories I would like to forget.ni try to just remember the better times,

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  16. Mary M. says:

    Due to having both my Grandmother and invalid uncle living with us, we never had anyone over for Christmas. Our presents never showed up until Christmas morning, and we opened them after we attended church on Christmas morning. We would play Christmas records and songs on the radio, and I can still hear my dad and uncle singing horribly off-key but very enthusiastically. When we got older, we had Christmas at one sibling’s house or the other, but my best Christmas morning memories were waking up in my Dr. Denton pjs and running to the mantel to see if Santa had put me on the naughty list or not 🙂

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  17. Ameliah Faith says:

    Honestly I have hated Christmas most of my life, even as a young child. It was just another day I was forced to go to church to listen to a bunch of stuff I didn’t believe in. Usually not even the gifts were worth all the heartache and anger I felt. (I think I was about 6 or 7 when this started) As an adult I enjoyed giving gifts to my daughter watching her delight. I also enjoyed going to my parents house to open gifts with them and the lovely brunch after. We always stockings. I loved stockings at Mom’s. There was usually a flavoured lip gloss, some candies, an ornament and a little present. Sometimes mom would mention to me that she was thinking about not doing the stockings this year or that since we were all adults etc. I would look at her like she had grown a second and third head. I told her the best part of Christmas was the stockings and I would help her find the little gifts. I mentioned this to my sisters while we were all together and they looked at her the same way. They both said we don’t need gifts but the stockings have to stay!

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    • Tina S. says:

      Sorry you didn’t have happy memories as a child. But glad you have some to hang onto. Stockings are what let’s us sleep in for about 20 minutes more

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  18. JC says:

    My favorite childhood Christmas memory would have to be the train my uncle had that went around the bottom of the tree. It had controls we could play with to make it go faster or slower. You could even make it go backwards! I also loved trying to guess what the present were.

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  19. AFOdom says:

    One of the things that fascinated me about getting married was how the holidays (any of them) force you to mesh traditions together. Once you have kids, things get even more confusing.

    Me: “No gifts open until Christmas Day.” Him: “Everyone gets one Christmas Eve – of their choice.” Me: “Well how about pajamas as the Christmas Even present.” Him: “Well okay, but we get to open another one, too.”

    Him: “What do you mean we’re cooking on Christmas Day?” Me: “Um. I got nothing.” Him: “Christmas Day is for breakfast and leftovers. Christmas Eve is for the big dinner.” Me: “That’s actually kind of brilliant”.

    Me: “Don’t forget to get oranges.” Him: “For what?” Me: “To put in the toes of the stockings.” Him: “… …” Me: “Just do it. That’s what we always put in the toes of the stockings.”

    Me: “And a whole bag of everyone’s favorite candy.” Him: “Like a *whole* whole bag?” Me: “Yeah. At Christmas you get to eat the *whole* whole bag.” Him: “Wow.” Me: “Oh, and my Christmas candy is Raisinets.” Him: “I’ve never seen you eat Raisinets.” Me: “That’s because it hasn’t been Christmas.”

    Me: “YOU CAN’T SHAKE THE PRESENTS.” Him: “Yes I can.” Me: “No! You have to leave them alone so you can’t tell what they are.” Him: “What? No. It’s the wrappers job to wrap things so you can’t tell what they are.” Me: “Are you serious?” Him: “Yeah, one year, my mom taped a CD to the bottom of a shirt box and filled it with paper clips. It was so awesome.” Me (now on the phone to his mother): “You’re going to have to help me, Sam. I need ideas. And it’s all your fault.”

    Me: “Going to get stuff to make the Advent wreath.” Him: “What’s an Advent wreath?” Me: “You know, with the candles you light every Sunday to anticipate the arrival of Christmas?” Him: “Is that a Catholic thing?” Me: “Yeah.” Him: “You haven’t been Catholic since we got married.” Me: “Yeah, but we’re UU now, so I can do whatever I want. And I want an Advent wreath. Because that’s what you have before Christmas.”

    We also celebrate the Solstice now. We’re creating all our own traditions for that, and our kids are already attached to them. Hopefully there will be plenty nostalgia for them in the future. We have simple harvest-type foods – baked ham, rolls, roasted root vegetables, some sort of rice. We also have a cake shaped like the Sun, to welcome back the light. And because we like some satire, we make “Gingerbread Men Sacrifices” — we decorate gingerbread men to look like they’ve died horribly violent deaths. Yeah, we can be kind of weird.

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    • P.T. Wyant says:

      This made me giggle: Me: “Oh, and my Christmas candy is Raisinets.” Him: “I’ve never seen you eat Raisinets.” Me: “That’s because it hasn’t been Christmas.”

      I celebrate Solstice now as well, but my roommate is Catholic so we do Christmas too. (For me it’s a secular holiday.) Of course, seeing as how we’re both nurses WHEN we celebrate is up for grabs…

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  20. Amy says:

    I never liked actual Christmas as a kid. It was a tense, horrible day, sort of a showcase of all our family’s issues crammed into one 24-hour period. But the weeks leading up to it were fun. I loved decorating the tree. We had a huge artificial one, and the lights were blue flowers. We all had special Christmas ornaments each of us would get to put on every year. We even had an old Elf on the Shelf (yep, this was a 70s tradition too!). But my favorite part was the Christmas cookies. My mom made 8-10 kinds of cookies and made “care packages” for all our teachers. We had vanilla and gingerbread cut-outs, chocolate balls, spritz, and more. We used to decorate them with either homemade food paint (made from egg whites) or with sprinkles. My mom collected cookie cutters, and she had well over a hundred of them. It took her forever to make all those cookies. LOL!

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  21. michellewillms2013 says:

    My mother always did her best to make Christmas special for our family. To this day, it’s my favorite holiday. As a child, I’d do whatever I could to earn whatever small bits of money I could earn so that I could buy my family what they wanted for Christmas. My mother often worked two or three jobs to pay the bills and when she married my stepdad (who is my dad in every way – I call him Poppa or Dad, too), he labored in one type of mine or another to contribute. I wanted to be able to give something back. I’m the same way today. I save and save whatever few dollars I can so I’ll have a little bit for gifts for Christmas. Those are my special memories.

    As an adult, I hate getting together with my husband’s family. They think getting together means getting drunk and staying drunk the entire time they’re together – and I mean early morning until they pass out. I hate it. This isn’t my nature. I don’t want my children exposed to it. I am not comfortable with any part of this process, nor with many other behaviors that come about as a result of their binge drinking. It’s simply horrible. My husband stays angry with me because he can’t understand why I don’t want to be around this and why I do not want my children around it. It continues to get old going over the same argument. *sigh* So much for my favorite time of the year, right?

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  22. pieclown says:

    My memories were going to church Christmas eve. We came home and opened the presents. On Christmas we would open what Santa brought. Also on Christmas my sister and I would go to the other grandparents and mom and the rest of that side of the family. We lived with one set. There we would do more presents and lunch. I too remember the sickness that happen about every other Christmas. The grandma we lived with love to bake and we got to help decorate.
    We would go check out lights one night before Christmas. We also would make a big trip to the big city, 80 miles away to buy Christmas presents. That is how I learned of Santa. My grandpa brought in a package, before my sister and I had gone to bed. I could see a shape of a race track. It was the gift I got from Santa.

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  23. Shannon Love says:

    My fondest memories are still in the making. My best Christmas memories involve my husband and kids. The first year we were married, my husband and I had the flu. We were too sick to put up decorations but on Christmas Eve, between the two of us, we mustered enough strength to put up a little pitiful tree in our apartment. Then we went to sleep.
    Every year, our kids give us the best memories. My daughter is a girlie girl so she squeals and giggles with every gift. My youngest son is just getting into the idea of presents. My oldest son is such a ham.
    I’ve been dressing up the kids in Santa suits every Christmas since they were born. I thought they would roll their eyes at me but they actually look forward to dressing up and playing Santa.
    Plus my husband and I give each other such kick-butt gifts that we look forward to Christmas Day as much as our kids.
    Later in the season, around New Year’s Day, my best friend (my chosen sister) comes to visit and we get Christmas all over again. I’m definitely having the best memories right now.

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  24. Katie says:

    So MANY memories. And many still in the making! 🙂 As a child, opening a present Christmas Eve. Dad would read the story of Christmas. We’d sometimes go to midnight mass. Many more things. As a late teen/young adult my sister and I would wait til mom went to bed and then we would go around and shake the gifts and try to guess what they were. We would laugh and have so much fun. For our kids- we always put out a big Santa sits in the front hall and dances. His mouth moves when he sings, as does the rest of him. My youngest saw him in a store around Christmas when she was maybe three and begged me to get him. He has been a staple ever since. The ornaments on the tree. Almost all of them have meaning of one kind or another. And I try to give the kids one new ornament each year. Now some of them have their own trees. 🙂 Other stuff- Christmas Eve with family and 7 fishes tradition. Bagels and lox and tomato and purple onion and cream cheese at breakfast on Christmas morning. Many more things. My absolute favourite holiday. Love reading everyone’s memories!! Many hugs,

    ❤ Katie

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  25. catrouble says:

    Goodness…so many memories here and I don’t have time to read all of them right now. One of my favorite traditions that I started when my oldest was born and have continued to this day and my oldest now continues with my grands is baking a birthday cake for the baby Jesus to remind us of why we are celebrating Christmas. Christmas morning I would start the coffee for my ex and spiced cider for me and the boys…when the drinks were ready, we would gather round and sing happy birthday to the baby Jesus and then have cake and spiced cider. Afterwards, we opened gifts. Yes, cake for breakfast…it is a special cake…I shared the recipe on my blog two years ago…you can find it here if you want to make it: http://gigglesgrinsandreflections.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-birthday-cake.html

    Will be back later to read everyone’s precious memories.

    Hugs and blessings…
    Cat

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  26. Laura says:

    One of my fondest memories is from when I was 6. The rest of the kids were 9, 8, 7, and 4. Both sides of the family were in and we got up at 6:00 to see what Santa had brought. We couldn’t even get into the front room because of all the gifts. We didn’t find out til years later that the adults hadn’t made it to bed until after 4:00 because they were putting toys together while drinking and visiting.

    The worst Christmas was after I was married and my in laws decided that they didn’t want Christmas Eve anymore they wanted Christmas Day. The problem was that up until then they always celebrated on Xmas Eve and my family was always Xmas Day. I don’t do well with confrontation and my father in law knew this and took me on the side and told me I was a horrible person, a terrible mother and he hoped that my husband would divorce me so that he could remarry someone who they would like. I was struck dumb as this was the first time that he had so blatantly let me know he disliked me this much. What a awful man.

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  27. Katy Beth McKee says:

    Candy memory is not Christmas related and really makes you wonder looking back but I remember my dad buying us the candy cigarettes and actually lighting the end so it would be this brown tip.

    Christmas – When I was little my grandmother started getting three gifts related to each other usually something simple for my mom, dad, and myself as the three bear gifts. She would even write a script that had to read as the gifts were open. When my sister was born Goldilocks got added to the mix. I remember my dad grumbling every year about reading it but he still did it. I was just finishing my freshman year of high school when my grandmother passed away. I try to recreate the tradition that first Christmas but it just wasn’t the same and the tradition passed into memory.

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  28. minellesbreath says:

    I have so many Christmas memories. My favorite memories as a child were traipsing off to buy a real tree with my dad. All 5 of us kids excited to venture to several lots while dad haggled about the price and never paid tax! We always decorated on my brothers birthday a week prior to Christmas. We had homemade eggnog and sang Christmas Carols.
    We do the same thing with all of our families now but it is a huge multigenerational event! Everyone tries to come.
    Every year on Christmas Eve we celebrate with the whole family by exchanging presents, eat wonderful food and celebrate being together. We sing Christmas Carols after the frenzied present opening. When we return home we open one present, which happen to be pjs. Later we go to Mass!

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  29. Kyra says:

    My greatest Christmas was when my niece Elizabethvwas born. Yes she is a Christmas baby and the only girl among the brood of boys. That was the best Christmas ever.

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  30. Marybeth says:

    Hmmmm….memories. I come from a somewhat large family. I have 5 older brothers (we are all REALLY close in age). On Christmas Eve, my mo’s family came over for a buffet dinner. Then, we would open the presents that Grandma and Grandpa left for us before they went to Florida for the winter. Then, they would call us and everyone would talk to them. This was before free long distance phone calls. Everyone would go home and mom would have us lay down for a nap before we went to midnight mass, at midnight. I loved it because the choir would be singing Christmas songs before mass started. When we got home, we had to do a procession down the stairs in age order. I, as the youngest, put baby Jesus in the manger. Then we sang Happy Birthday. Then, onto bed. That morning, we were allowed to open our gifts that were in our stockings.

    We always went and cut down our Christmas tree. This was before tree farms, we just went out in the woods and cut it down. Mom would stay home and bake cookies and have hot cocoa ready.

    Now, we cut down our Christmas tree on black friday. We come home and decorate it. The first ornament that goes on the tree is the one my husband and I bought for our first Christmas. We put it on together and then kiss. The next ornaments are put on by the kids. They get to put on their ornament from their first Christmas. Then, it’s a free for all.

    Christmas has always been in our home. We spend Thanksgiving and New Year’s with family. I wanted our kids to have a relaxing day at home. In fact, Santa only brought one gift for each child. They put their Santa bag (gift bag for a bicycle) on the couch and Santa would leave their present inside unwrapped, out of the box and ready to go.

    I still enjoy Christmas, even though it has gotten much more hectic.

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  31. thelongbean says:

    For the last 30+ years Christmas has, by necessity, meant not being able to join family.
    Living on a small island where there are only 4 ferries a week in winter and no direct flights except Athens makes for it to be very expensive and tricky to visit the UK.
    Do not feel sad as we all joiin in with the celebrations and groups of friends all have a celebration, and no-one is left out.

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  32. Tracey.Gee.393 says:

    I’m stuck on candy and Christmas now, dulcet Ana. I have a memory of being quite young and at a famous pianist’s home (well, his parents’ but he was there.. our fathers were friends and business associates) where he and I ate an ENTIRE box of After Eights (someone told me they were Canadian, but they’re by Nestle). In a rare moment, the pianist removed his gloves which he often wore and shared the box with me. I was under 10. Can’t remember exactly. He would have been in his forties and sadly, only had a few years left on Earth. We put the little waxed paper envelopes back into the box after each mint was consumed (slowly, they are not to be gobbled). The box smelled beautiful. Candy. Christmas. Every year I have a box of After Eights.

    http://www.aftereight.co.uk/home/

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