Since this is only our fourth Christmas as "adults" (used loosely and reluctantly), Jonathan and I haven't established a whole lot of our own traditions yet, mostly because we're always out of town for Christmas. I'm sure that'll change once we have our own little ninos to think of, but for now we're still kind of riding the coattails of things we grew up with. And after a quick sister call, I have compiled as many as I can remember... some of these I can implement at my own house, but, like I said, I mostly remember them fondly and with an occasional tear depending on how many sappy Hallmark commercials I've seen recently. (Also, I realize that most of these are not unique to our family. I just like to think they are, okay? Don't Grinch on my memories, man.)
-Definitely (and we still do this) one of my most outstanding memories would be opening our one present on Christmas Eve.(BTW... no hard feeling or anything, but if you open your Christmas present on Christmas Eve and leave nothing for Christmas morning, well... you're basically a terrible person. But, like I said, no biggie. We'll just consider it your fatal flaw.) It was always pajamas (matching, naturally) and while it was probably cuter when we were all twelve and under, it's still something we love to do.
-Every year, our church would go Christmas caroling, mostly to different "Senior Saints" (Baptist for old people) and I loved going to the Driver's because they gave out candy canes and ending up at Mrs. Mitchell's house for hot chocolate and cookies. (I also remember being terrified that I'd spill the hot chocolate on her white tablecloth or white carpet or white couch.)
-Driving around to see Christmas lights was a must. It may have just been where we lived, but there were always tons of houses decorated. I can still remember a couple of streets where people went aaaaallll out that were my favorite.
-I loved helping my mom decorate for Christmas (probably more than she loved letting us) but every year our "homey" tree was the flocked one that my parents had had since they got married. It finally gave up the ghost a few year ago when it looked more like a little dandruff that snow, but the colored lights on it were SO pretty and we hung all our homemade (aka not pretty) ornaments on it.
-Speaking of decorating, my very favorite decoration that got put out every year was a little set of stuffed Christmas bears. They're only a few inches tall and all fit in a little basket, but I loved to play with them. In fact, I went looking for them last year and was a little
ticked off disappointed when I couldn't find them all.
-Every year, without fail, my mom dressed us up and to the mall Santa we went. (I think the last time we did this Amanda asked for a boyfriend for Christmas- as a college student- and now she's married with two kids, so good job Kris K.) I'd love to find all these pictures in order! Maybe I'll do some photo trolling when we go home to visit.
How cute and fat was Amy's little squishy face? =)
-I've talked about this before, but I can't even think of Christmas growing up without thinking of the Carpenters Christmas music. If Baines Family Christmases had a soundtrack, it would be these albums. Hearing it at any time of the year puts me in a festive (and nostalgic) mood instantly.
-We always had a real tree growing up... the smell is just incomparable. I remember feeling very betrayed the year my mom got a "fake" tree. What were we, the Scrooge family? (I guess she was tired of brown needles all. over. the. floor. after so many years.)
-For many years, we lived right next door to our Cox cousins. (This was as lively and wonderful as you can imagine.... we literally wore a path between our two houses.) For many Christmas Eves in a row, our parents would get shrimp, sparkling cider, and other yummy treats and basically leave us to
fight to the death fend for ourselves while they had their own little party. At the time I was probably bitter about it but now I think, "Brilliant! I cant' wait to do the same thing with my kids!"
-Oh, there are so many foods associated with Christmas- sausage balls, my mom's homemade fudge, HAM, dressing, red velvet cake, Chex Mix (don't tell, but I'd just as soon have store-bought), and also mixing Sprite with cranberry juice for our own little Christian cocktail. =)
-Of course, we always read the Christmas story... my favorite passage is Matthew 1, but clearly we include Luke 2 and Isaiah 7 and 9. This is usually intended to be serious but typically becomes a running contest to see who can make it without snort-laughing while Dad reads because we are basically heathens.
-Speaking of Dad (and I think we'd all agree this is one of our favorite traditions)... every year he sings "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" in that heavenly, mellow voice and it's beautiful and most definitely one of those "NOW it's Christmas" moments.
- I have no idea why, but every year we got the typical candy and stuff in our stockings along with things like razors, shaving gel, and maybe a toothbrush. Were we the only ones? I don't mind, I just don't know that toiletries are typical stocking stuffers. That one may be indigenous to the Baines family.
-They weren't always with us on Christmas Day, but I definitely remember Mamaw and Papaw spending Christmas with us and hearing Papaw read the Christmas story (we were probably better-behaved for him, thanks to a healthy fear). Papaw loved Christmas and although we were afraid to giggle when he read the Bible, he was always making us laugh by dressing up in Santa hats or (my favorite) eating the popcorn off Aunt Nancy's tree.
-Watching Christmas movies... a given, but probably the cornerstone of our Christmas experience (besides the Christmas story. We were the pastor's family, after all.) Here are some of
my our favorites, but I'm fairly certain White Christmas tops the charts for all of us.
Other memories include our (dreaded) Christmas piano recitals, the annual ladies' cookie/candy exchange (of which my memories are fuzzy because I was always sequestered downstairs with the children), all four of us piling into the same bed on Christmas Eve (merging from our respective bedrooms), Christmas shopping at Alderwood Mall, Christmas in the Park (take me back!), singing together (not limited to Christmas, but still), making videos for the family "back home," since we lived in the Dark Ages, the Twelve Days of Christmas song at Mamaw's...I know I'm forgetting things (entering the twilight years, like I said) so I invite my sisters to add in their two cents but these are just some of the highlights for me. Now that Christmas means plays and sets and coordinating practices and, let's be honest- STRESS for the majority of the month of December, it's nice to look back to a time when my biggest worry was that the animated Santa figurine was going to come to life and stab me with that quill pen.
Okay, maybe I still worry about that. All is calm? Haha, not so fast. (And I can only pray for you Elf-on-the-Shelfers whose life are at risk with that murderous little creep moving around your house.) I kid, I kid. What are YOUR favorite memories/traditions? Tell me! I wanna know.