Monday, December 24, 2007

Reflections of Christmases past

I have been working so much for the last several months that I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying having a little down time and just "playing"!! As you can tell from my last post we've had dinner with friends, visited "Candy Cane Lane" to see all the lights, done lots of baking and the five of us have genuinely just had a great time being together and enjoying the season.

As I write this it's nearing midnight of Christmas Eve. I don't know about any of you, but the older I get the less it actually "seems" like Christmas. When I was a kid, the anticipation of the big day filled the air for weeks. In fact, once Thanksgiving was over, it was like every child was given the green light that the excitement could begin. I can't speak for kids now, but the beginning of the holiday season seems almost anti-climactic because we've been looking at holiday store decorations since before Halloween! During my childhood it was almost as if someone planted a seed in my young psyche, and as each December 25th drew nearer the expectation grew larger and larger until I thought I would burst with excitement! Who knows, maybe it's because as we get older "preparations" for the holiday change drastically. As a six or seven-year-old, your preparations might consist of making a wish list for Santa, creating construction paper or macaroni masterpieces in school for your parents, or maybe you were making that yearly trek to the mall (or in my day, the department store) to see Santa. As an adult, a mom (and a photographer), my preparations these days might consist of shopping for just the right gift for my husband, kids and other loved ones (many times, now on the internet), making sure all my clients have their photos so THEY can have gifts for their loved ones, baking until I drop, or hearing Christmas songs on the radio 24/7 since Thanksgiving Day. Hmmm, something else that just came to mind that, although has been changed by technology, still is a holiday staple. I LOVE to watch the Christmas shows and movies. Now, in the 21st century, the nice thing is that when Rudolph or Frosty is on CBS it doesn't matter if you're not home to watch it-you just record it on your DVR-or you just pull it out of your dvd collection and watch it anytime you want. I have to chuckle when I think about all the holiday specials that were on once a year when I was a kid. If you were at your school winter performance, or out seeing Santa, too bad if you missed it. Tough luck...ah, there was always next year :)

Although the "feeling" I have for the weeks prior to Christmas may have changed, the way I feel about the season has not. One of the things that has never changed for me (except to become even more important every year) is that I want the holiday FILLED with friends and family. In my world it's always about "the more the merrier". To me, it's just not Christmas without being around lots and lots of people. And, although my siblings and parents are scattered throughout the country and our celebration is not what it used to be, I've carried on some of the traditions from my childhood to my children. When I was a kid one of the most anticipated gifts every year was the new "jammies" my grandmother would give us every Christmas Eve. Oh, it was so wonderful to go to sleep in our new snuggly pjs and to have that first photograph Christmas morning in front of the tree wearing them. Although my kids range in age from 16-22 they STILL want those new pjs every Christmas Eve :) Another custom that someone in my family started (I think even before I was born), was to draw names prior to Christmas and exchange a "joke" gift with that person. Now, if you know me, you know what sort of sense of humor I have and how this suits my family perfectly! Here are a few photos from our exchange that we had earlier this evening.
Each "gift" is supposed to be something that really represents the recipient. For instance, my oldest daughter never believed me that the first pancake never comes out.

In fact, she didn't believe it to be true until she once heard Emeril say it. With that in mind, (remember she's my oldest), she jokes that she's the "first pancake". Since I had her name this year, I got her a box of pancake mix and a spatula. SHE LOVED IT! I know, it's a really strange thing to do every year, but we honestly have a lot of fun with it!! I HATE brocolli, so my husband got me a head of brocolli; my middle daughter, Katie, loves Tinkerbell, but hates wearing makeup, so Cassie bought her a Tinkerbell makeup kit; my husband can't use a pair of chopsticks to save his life, so Ali got him a "chopstick aid"; and Cassie eats, sleeps and breathes High School Musical (and it DRIVES KATIE NUTS!!!), so Katie got her a High School Musical game.

On the subject of favorite holiday movies and specials...The five of us have some favorites that we watch EVERY year! As I'm typing this we're watching A Christmas Story. This is one of our FAVORITES-you know the one-the pink bunny suit; "you'll shoot you're eye out!!"; the kid's tongue getting stuck on the flag pole-AHHH, now in our house, it's not Christmas until we see this movie; AT LEAST once!!
Well, enough of my reminiscing and letting you in on a few of our family "secrets". I just wanted to share with you some of the things that add the fun into the season for me. Have a wonderful time with whatever it is that makes YOUR holiday special to you!!!

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