Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

 This is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love the lights and the decorations and all of the anticipation building up to Christmas.  I love the pageantry involved with our family's Christmas celebrations.  It never goes smoothly, but it's always interesting.

Growing up, we always started out, early in the morning with the Santa presents.  Those were the big presents for each kid that were unwrapped.  We would hover over them and the stockings, until our parents woke up and the festivities could begin.  The whole family gathered in the living room IN PAJAMAS to open them.  Individually, from the youngest to the oldest, we would take each item out of overstuffed red stockings with white trim, announcing the treasures and cooing over them.  That procedure could take as much as two and a half hours for the 9 people involved.

After that, the women go to the kitchen to make a full breakfast: eggs, pancakes, biscuits, bacon, the whole nine yards, while the kids eat the candy from the stockings getting completely wound up.  Everybody sits down to breakfast, and at the end of the meal, someone is elected the present distributor, whose job it is to make sure that no one opens too many presents in a row or goes too long without opening a present.

Opening presents took, literally, hours because every person gave a gift to every other person.  We didn't have an allowance growing up, so in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my mother would lay out all the gifts that she bought for everyone on her bed sorting by recipient. She would bring each of the kids into the room one at a time to "shop" for the other members of the family from the gifts that she had already purchased.  If you fast forward to the big morning, there were dozens and dozens of presents to be opened...one...at...a...time.  By the time the presents were all opened, it was time for cooking to begin for dinner.  The kids would go play with all their loot, Dad and Grandpa would watch TV, and the women would cook for the second time of the day.

Christmas dinner always involves ham, sometimes turkey or roast beef.  Then, mashed potatoes (real never from a box), creamed corn (also never from a can), candied sweet potatoes with cloves, colossal olives (they go on the table while we're still cooking so people can snack), dinner rolls, and this horrible salad made with banana, pineapple, and mayonnaise (which, apparently, everyone likes but me).  For dessert, was pie: pumpkin, apple, minced meat for Grandma (nobody else ever touched until Alfred came for Christmas one year).  Sometimes we added some other things for variety, but these were the key players.

After dinner, we all drift away into a food-induced stupor and watch the movies we received as presents until it's time for bed.

What are your holiday traditions?  Are they simple and straight-forward?  Or intricate and time-consuming?  In any case, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

PS: The pictures in this post are some of my favorites from the last two years.