*I wrote this about three years ago for my myspace blog...it's been so long since I've been on myspace that I couldn't actually figure out how to log on! :) But I wanted to share...and I've updated it a little!*
I am finding as I get older that my Christmas memories are not quite as vivid as they once were. Christmas was always a special time in our home. It began within the first few weekends with getting a tree. For several years we did the whole go to the mountains and pick your own tree thing. If you've never done this, I would definitely suggest it. It's just different wandering through rows of trees still firmly rooted in the ground and knowing that the tree you have was cut just for you. Our busy schedules don't permit this much anymore, but it was still fun...and then the real fun began! Dragging out all the ornaments and other decorations...trying to get the tree through the door...the tree always being just a hair bigger in our living room than it appeared on the lot (this is still a problem to this day!). Soon...well more like several days later...everything would finally be placed and the gifts would begin to pile underneath. We'd shake and guess and hope that what was there was what we really wanted. We always participated in and attended several special church services, including the Christmas Eve service at church. I have very vague memories of spending Christmas Eve with my uncle Ronnie & his family along with my great grandmother and great aunt. This kind of fizzled as the years went by...we were never close to my mother's family. Instead we began spending Christmas Eve with my dad's parents...the only grandparents I truly grew up with. We would just go hang out...sometimes my grandmother would have snacks to eat and we would just visit with them...of course always keeping an eye on the clock & the sky to make sure we didn't miss Santa. We would beg and beg to open just one present on Christmas Eve...but Mom & Dad were hold outs and we had to wait until Christmas morning. I still remember never sleeping completely through the night Christmas Eve...I usually would get up at about 2 or 3 to see if Santa had come or not...and to see what he left! I also had to wake my sister so that she could see her gifts...I mean it wouldn't be fair if I knew what Santa had brought and she didn't. We'd not touch anything...or at least carefully place it back and go back to bed. I think we fell back to sleep, but not without excited butterflies in our stomachs...not being able to wait until morning when we could play with our new toys and open presents! The older we got, not much changed. I guess we just got bigger presents...but there was always the excitement and the anticipation of Christmas.
My favorite Christmas memories have now been replaced with memories of Dylan. I don't think I'll ever forget the first Christmas that he was truly aware of the whole Santa thing. It was his third Christmas - he was 2 1/2. I remember his Dad came down Christmas Eve so that he could fly out Christmas morning to Florida to spend Christmas with his family. Only a few times did it happen that his Dad was able to be there for the holiday...most of the times he was in Florida. We stayed up late playing Santa...putting all the toys together, with the help of my sister. We all laughed and got delirious as we stuck sticker after sticker on his Little People stuff! It was probably the only true "Mom & Dad" thing we ever did for Dylan. I got up early the next morning to take his Dad to the airport...and got home before he woke up. I remember he got up and walked in the living room and his little mouth just hung open...like he couldn't believe that all the hype was for real! He didn't know what to head for first...and yes, it was the first Christmas that Santa really came...so, I went overboard! :) But he was just filled with wonder and excitement and he played and was so happy with all of it.
Some of our "traditions" have stuck. We still drink Cokes out of the glass bottle as part of Christmas. We have done this for many years now...I don't know why this is so special, other than that it reminds me of the "olden" days before aluminum cans & plastic. Also, if you've never had a Coke out of a glass bottle...you will never taste anything better! We have gone to many special Christmas services at church - it seems like this list grows every year! We have watched EVERY Christmas movie ever created...in fact, probably several times! Even though Dylan informed me a couple of years ago that there is no Santa, I am still excited to see him open his gifts. This is probably the most "practical" Christmas yet, but it will still be fun. And Santa does still stuff Dylan's stocking! :)
And as our family has grown, with the additions of Alyson & Ayden, Christmas has become more fun. We've added a Christmas Eve "fellowship" at my sister & brother-in-laws...where we will pig out on snacky food and begin watching the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. This year, my brother-in-law doesn't have to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas...so we will head to Mom's for dinner & presents...in our comfy clothes, no less! And to boot, the chances are looking better and better for a White Christmas...at least it's supposed to snow Christmas night! What a great gift to look forward to...because snow in North Carolina means staying in, not rushing here and there and yonder, building snow men, watching movies cuddled up on the couch. It will be a continuation of our family time on the day after Christmas. If I get nothing else for Christmas but a Sunday Snow Day, I will consider myself blessed!
Most of all, I want to remember the true meaning of the season - that if not for a little baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago, we wouldn't have anything to celebrate! I continually marvel at the gift that God gave us...His own Son...and what that gift ultimately cost Him so that we could all be saved from an eternity in Hell. What if Mary had said...no, I'll wait until I'm older and married? What if Joseph had said...no...that kid's not mine...I can't marry her? But they didn't...God knew He could trust His faithful servants to carry out His plan. And as you who are reading this go through your Christmas, I hope that you will also take the time to give Glory to God and truly celebrate the "reason for the season"!
I truly hope that you all have a very happy and blessed Christmas!