Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmastime is Here!

I saw a quote on Pinterest the other day that said, "The older you get, the more you realize that what's on your Christmas list aren't things." 

And that's so true. Of course, receiving gifts is always nice, but the more I sit back and think about it, I don't remember the gifts I received as a child. Heck, I don't even remember the gifts I received last Christmas! What I remember -- and what I long for -- are times spent with family and the traditions we created and took part in. 

So I thought it would be fun to think back to the traditions my family created when we were younger and some that Brandon and I have started with our family. 

1. Extended Family Christmases
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have four sets of great-grandparents. We thought it was so cool that we had so many Christmas celebrations! {I'm sure my parents were completely worn out, though.} A few days before Christmas, we would go to my paternal great-grandparents' house for Christmas with our extended family. I loved looking around the room and seeing my second- and third-cousins all together. 

Sadly, all but one of my great-grandparents has passed away, but I still cherish the memories with my extended family!

2. Decorating the Grandparents' Tree
When we were younger, my Nana would try to get as many grandchildren as she could over to her house to decorate the "kid tree" -- a small tree in one of their living rooms that housed all of the homemade ornaments we made them and the ones they collected over the years for us. The younger generation of grandkids does this job now, and I still love going over to my grandparents' house to see that familiar faux-Lifesavers garland around that Christmas tree and joking that my cousin Robert's homemade aluminum star is always at the top of the tree because he's the favorite grandchild. ;)

3. New Fancy Christmas Dresses 
Until I was old enough to protest, I always got a new dress for Christmas. And it usually involved velvet, taffeta, and Mary Jane shoes. Bonus points if my Mom got us matching mother-daughter dresses, because you know…#early90s. 

Notice that star at the top of the tree?! *Wink-wink*

4. Christmas Night at the Grandparents
After we had our immediate family Christmas celebration {more on that below}, we spent Christmas night at my grandparents' house. Even though it was just my immediate family, my dad's brother's immediate family, and my dad's sister's immediate family, it was still a lot of people! It's complete mass chaos of everyone opening gifts at once and screams of, "Thank you, Nana and Pah!" but I love it. 

And check out my Santa vest, will you? Hahaha!

5. Gumbo on Christmas Eve
Each year on Christmas Eve, we would either travel to my mom's grandparents' house or they would come to us. And every year my great-aunt Charlotte makes her famous dark-roux gumbo! We always eat that, along with a myriad of dips {including this one} on Christmas Eve. My great-grandfather reads the Christmas Story from the Book of Luke and we open one very small gift. Then, they leave and we go to church for the Christmas Eve service.

Now that Brandon and I alternate years at Christmas, I miss that gumbo {and my family} every other year, and this year is one of them. I'm going to miss that yummy meal!

6. Decorating the Kid Tree
Like we did at my grandparents', I grew up decorating the "kids' tree" at my parents' house. We always had two trees in their old house, the house I grew up in: one in the study that was the "pretty tree" with all of my Mom's pretty ornaments on it, and one in the living room that housed all of our handmade ornaments and ones my parents purchased for us each year. 

I can't wait to have two trees one day to carry on this tradition with my children!

7. Santa Claus + Christmas Morning Breakfast
"If you don't believe, you don't receive" was commonly heard through my house growing up! I think I believed in Santa until I was in about 3rd grade, which seems crazy long now that I think about it. {Santa left a Toys 'R' Us price tag on my University of Texas Cheerleader Barbie and then my suspicions were confirmed. Ha!} 

But, the way my parents did it is that we only got presents from Santa; we didn't get any from them. As you can tell above, we had quite a few grandparents and great-grandparents living at the time and didn't need one more gift, so my parents' gifts to us were Santa's. 

We would come down each Christmas morning to unwrapped gifts laid out across the couches, and then we'd do our stockings. My Dad even got crafty one year and dipped his boots in baking flour and walked them across the fireplace hearth and down the carpet; let me tell you, that was cool as a little kid! 

For breakfast, we always do Breakfast Casserole {similar recipe here}, fruit salad, coffee and Wassail. 

8. Jammie Lights
I know many people do a rendition of this, but Brandon and I started doing "Jammie Lights" when we got married. You wear your Christmas pajamas, drive through Starbucks for a peppermint hot chocolate, and drive around looking at Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music. It's one of my favorite traditions! 

9. Reading Christmas Stories on Christmas Eve + New PJs
After church on Christmas Eve, Brandon and I wear our new Christmas PJs, give Walker his, and read the Christmas Story from the Book of Luke and then "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in said {washed} jammies before putting out Santa cookies and calling it a night. 

10. Decorating our Christmas Tree 
Walker was finally old enough this year to really understand what decorating the Christmas tree meant. When Brandon pulled it out of the box and turned the lights on, Walker said, "Whoa! Really, really…LIGHTS!" It was so sweet. 

Like with my parents, we let Walker help us decorate the Christmas tree and "hang" as many ornaments as he can. Since we only have one tree, ours is a mix of pretty ornaments, Walker's homemade ornaments, and ornaments we've picked up from our travels. 

So what do I really want this year? 

  • For my family to always come first and be happy. We aren't perfect, but I want us to be the perfect family members for each other.
  • For this precious baby growing inside of me to be born healthy and without complications, and for him/her to grow in wisdom and stature. 
  • For us to not desire "things" as much as we desire experiences, time spent with one another and to daily reflect that what we have doesn't truly belong to us and was given to us by God.
  • For our world to know the goodness of Jesus Christ. There will never be peace on Earth until all men come to know Him.

I'll be taking the rest of the week off to spend Christmas with my little family, but I'll be back Monday with a recap of our holiday. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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