Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Our Christmas eve service is being held at 6 pm again this year. With this time being smack dab in the middle of our Christmas celebration, I was reminded of the way it used to be: the way my family celebrated and the way our children were used to celebrating.
As a child, my parents would take me and my siblings to an early (4 pm) candlelight service. I would like to digress a minute if I might, to tell one of my favorite stories about my father.
My Dad prided himself as a good dresser. His job required that he dress well and he did. Expensive suits and , dare I say, clip on ties. They were the rage at that time. This particular Christmas, he had his best suit on and we were all sitting in the pew towards the front of the church. He must have been chastising me for the condition of my shoes. (We needed them polished regularly) Shortly after, attention was drawn to his shoes. Imagine his horror when he saw that he still had on the shoes he had on earlier in the day when he was painting. He had on this old brown, scuffed, white paint spotted shoes on to go with his expensive black wool suit. He panicked. We sort of did too because we could not stop laughing, silently of course. Silent night and all. Our shoulders were all shaking and people behind us must have wondered what we were all so joyful about.You all know what it is like when you aren't supposed to laugh and something occurs that is hilarious. After the service, he had his family literally surround him as we made our way out of the pews so no other church attenders would see his shoes. Being faithful, we all did as he asked.
After the service, we would drive around Rice Lake and look at the Christmas light decorations. They did so much more with lights in those days. We had a Christmas eve dinner and then opened presents from aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. because Santa would bring presents at night. This led automatically to the worst nights sleep of the year. Santa was coming, Santa was coming. Of course, waking up waaaayyyy before any one else, was a given.
The Christmas I most remember was the year I hardly got any presents. I was so low, moping at all the presents my siblings were opening. We took turns opening so I had to be skipped time after time. Finally, a note was found in the tree addressed to me. It led me on a "treasure hunt" and the tradition began. It had me go all around the house, only to find a note to where to look next. Finally! I said; FINALLY I was in the basement and there wrapped up was the most beautiful pair of skis. they were so much nicer than anything I thought I might get. They had steel edges, ebonite (plastic) bottoms, ski free bindings, ( so I wouldn't break my leg)
Mother would always fix a wonderful roast for dinner and then we would play with our new toys, or put together puzzles of car models.
The traditions that my wife and I started with our own children mimicked what I had been brought up with. Her catholic family would open presents at night and then go to mid-night mass. I knew that would not work with our kids so we adopted the same sort of tradition: church, lights, meal, followed by presents being opened. Christmas Day found us traveling to Rice Lake and have our Christmas with Nana.
A Christmas with my children that sticks out is reminiscent of my "skis Christmas". Mom and I planned on giving Don and Brian Nintendo for Christmas. This was an expensive gift for us, so not much else was planned on for the boys. Don did not handle it too bad but our sensitive Brian was just devastated. No presents, except maybe some under wear and socks. Finally, FINALLY, there was this note in the tree that led the boys on a treasure hunt with the Nintendo at the "end of the rainbow." Talk about elation, talk about extreme low to high of emotions, skyrocketing like a firework on July 4th.
Now, with most of our children married, we must share them with the in-laws and that is just the way it must be. So, we trade off holidays. If we get them for Thanksgiving, the in-laws get them for Christmas and visa versa.
So, the excitement still builds for me. I still have trouble sleeping right before Christmas but the cause is different now. My excitement now is the result of my anticipation of our children coming and I know laughter and fun will soon follow.
Lastly,the older I get, the more I try with some success to realize that Jesus, is indeed, the reason for the season. Merry Christmas to all.


  1. Love the pic and story-can't wait for Christmas this year!

  2. love this story! david

  3. I remember the Christmas Eve that we opened one present.... which led to one more.... which led to one more. Talk about devastated, THERE WERE NO PRESENTS TO OPEN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING!!! Obviously that did NOT become a tradition.

  4. Great stories.

    To be fair, Brian was younger than I was. Maybe I was more realistic in thinking there was not much of a chance we would get that Nintendo. It surely was one of the biggest and most fun presents that we ever did get. Man we loved that thing and really had a lot of fun playing it.

    I recently was telling Evelyn about how Grandpa Gary gets excited too, and has trouble sleeping before Christmas. This was on a night that she was having trouble going to sleep because she was "too ess-cited" for Christmas (her other Grandparents were coming the next day). I explained that Grandpa Gary also gets very excited and has trouble sleeping. :)

    Also, the days of having to be so well dressed in public either for church or work or what not are not as common as they once were. But that is a funny story for sure.

    see you soon

  5. Love the shoes story. -Jamie