Tuesday, December 29, 2009

remembering Christmases past

*We used to spend the night at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. I always had a hard time going to sleep. Sometimes Grandma would slip me something to take to bed with me, like a little tin of almonds, even though I had already brushed my teeth.

When we woke up in the morning, we had to wait at the top of the stairs for all of the adults to be ready to go down. The women would all put on their makeup and get ready for photos. It was sheer torture, but I didn't really mind. I've always loved delicious anticipation. Grandpa would go down to get the fire started and see if Santa came. Finally, finally he would give the all-clear and we would run down to see what Santa brought. Going through the stockings has always been my favorite part of Christmas.

*My mom used to make me nightgowns for Christmas, and I can distinctly remember one year when she made a matching nightgown for my doll. I thought it was the best idea ever.

*I used to be a bit of a snoop. Mom warned me that if I found where she had hidden my Christmas gifts, she would take them all back. I found them. I'm not sure I can rely on my memory, but as I remember it, I got different gifts that year, which was a real disappointment. However it all went down, one thing I know for sure is that that cured me forever of spoiling the surprise. Nothing could induce me now to do anything that would jeopardize the surprise of a gift. Marc used to have a very hard time waiting -- he would try to give me a gift early because he couldn't stand the suspense. I always vehemently refused, and now he is good about preserving the all-important element of surprise.

*As I have mentioned previously, I was Mom's wrapping assistant. She would put the gifts in boxes and affix a Post-It with the recipient's name so that I could help without being privy to the contents. We always had tons of gifts to wrap, and although we would try to do it earlier, we always seemed to have a lot left to do on the 23rd. So Mom started a tradition to make it more fun. We would stay up as late as necessary on the night of the 23rd to get it all done, and then we would have a sleepover next to the Christmas tree. I thought it was great fun. (Wasn't she brilliant?)

*One year when we were living in Denver, we woke up on Christmas Eve to a blizzard. We opened our front door and it was like a wall of snow. I was immediately concerned about our prospects of getting to Grandma's house. We couldn't have Christmas without going to Grandma's house, could we?

Grandpa and my Uncle Lee tried to come and get us with the pick-up truck and tire chains (they lived about 25 minutes away), but to no avail.

To my everlasting relief, our family decided to postpone Christmas for one day. We stayed home on Christmas Eve and made tunnels in the snow. My mom and I put on our boots and trudged around delivering friend and neighbor gifts. And the next day, we made it to Grandma's house and pretended that it was still Christmas Eve.

*A very pervasive memory: it seems like every single year, Mom warned us that they were going to have to cut back on Christmas, that it would be maybe a little meager, or not as lavish as usual. But I never remember a single Christmas that didn't feel lavish to me. What's that all about?

*During one of our first Christmases together, Marc was in graduate school at the University of Washington and we of course didn't have much money. We walked over to the University Bookstore and picked out a book for everyone on our list. The bookstore wrapped them at no charge and shipped them to our loved ones. It was all too easy, we totally felt like we had gotten away with something.

*Max's first Christmas was a memorable one for me. We spent it at Marc's parents' house in Oregon. Michelle and Bob were there with Nicole, who was 9 months old. Max was 6 months old. It was so fun to see the babies interact with each other (Nicole kept hitting Max on the head with a wooden rattle), especially since they are still good friends. Michelle gave us some Sandra Boynton board books, which have been a hit at our house ever since. Between nursing, baby cereal breaks and naps, I think it took us all day to open our presents!

*And who could forget Christmas 2007, when our furnace died? We woke up on the morning of the 23rd to a very cold house. It was a Sunday, so we couldn't get anyone to fix it until the 26th. We had some space heaters, but they knocked the power out of most of the house. So we bundled up as much as we could. Marc cooked hash browns in the bathroom. We didn't have any lights on the tree, but at least we had plenty of daylight. We spent the next day at our neighbor's house keeping warm. Unforgettable.


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh my goodness! I just LOVE this post. I love you remembering how your mom always said this one wouldn't be as big as last, the matching nightgowns, the wrap-a-thons, and of course, cooking the hashbrowns in the bathroom. The pictures are wonderful, wonderful.

What a fun post.

rebekah said...

Oh my goodness, this is one of your best posts ever! You and Eva look exactly alike! I love your head of big curls, and then the braids...cute. This post warmed my heart. Thank you.

Susan said...

I had to quicky come home from work and check out the post, as Linda had called and exclaimed that she couldn't really believe that it was Dad!! Yes, we both were very young and thin! I loved that photo and I love reliving the memorable Christmas days through your post.

Wasn't Ryan just the cutest too? I'm definitely going to go back to see your resemblence to Eva. You were just about the cutest little girl ever!


Susan said...

And check out the real flocked tree!!! I have been telling about those this year, ever since we saw all the colors of flocked trees in Paris!

I told Dad that is at the top of my list for any gift season...a tree flocker! Apparently they are not to be found.

patsy said...

OH how I love this post!

I had forgotten about last year's furnace issue- oh boy.

I cannot believe the resemblance between you & Eva! And your parents- they are so cool. I love the gift wrapping story.

What beautiful memories :)
thanks for sharing

patsy said...

p.s. I am plaqued with the memory of seeing a picture of your mom's tree... I can't remember when - but I remember you posted one. It was flocked with beautiful sugared fruit ornaments. I've been looking for a flocked tree ever since. Every one I find is way out of my budget. I keep thinking I will get one after Christmas 1/2 off or something, but they are always gone. That tree was so beautiful, the most beautiful tree I have ever seen!
maybe it was Denise's but I think it was your mom's?

Michelle said...

I'm with everyone else - Eva looks just like you!!

I love these Christmas stories - and always love old photos.

I don't think I would have been able to be so patient at the top of those stairs.

Jill said...

What a great idea for a post! It's so fun to see these adorable pictures from your childhood, you were so, so cute!

I'm totally cracking up at your dad's 70's style, but can relate because my dad looked very similar.

I love it that you have so many fun memories of wrapping with your mom, and how fun to have a sleepover by the tree.

Miranda said...

this post made me misty Michelle! what beautiful memories.

shannon said...

Love, Love, Love this post...
I so enjoyed reading about your past Christmas memories...
I've never seen a picture of your dad without gray hair! I love that picture of your parents!
You have such a cool family!

shannon said...

I wish I would have thought to incorporate some picures of my Christmases past into a post...I'll have to remember this for next year...You are such an inspiration to me!

emily said...

This is such a beautiful post! I love it. I also love seeing the pictures of you and your parents. I don't think I've ever known your Dad with dark hair!

Claudissima said...

ohh wow....cute cute cute pijama with doll pijama as well. My mum used to make dresses for her and she would make the same one for me, since I was the only girl. It did not last a long time, but we do have a couple of pictures from this, and it is fun to remember. Soo fun to remember christmases past.

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