Friday, February 8, 2008

December 13, 2007 - Of Egg Nog, Christmas Trees, and Colored Lights

It's only 12 days to Christmas (I have a countdown on my Google homepage), and I find myself feeling like a little kid again! I have always loved Christmas, but my favorite parts of the Holiday and the Season have changed over the years, and rightly so. But the anticipatory excitement is still there...
I remember working on presents for my parents in "secret" (didn't they always know what we were getting them though?) and teasing them about what a surprise it would be on Christmas morning when we all opened our gifts. Watching the presents under the tree multiply as packages arrived from friends and family and as we finished our presents (we even counted how many we had, occasionally). I still get a thrill making surprises for family, for T, and for our friends! There were the Kris Kringle presents which appeared on our pillow in the morning or on the dining room table next to the Advent Wreath. Singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" around the lighted purple candles with all our different voices "making a joyful noise" waiting for Jesus' birth. The Advent paper chains made in school--brought home to tear off one link per day and do the "good deed" listed on the inside. I remember the annual Christmas Pagent which our Catholic school put on and how I (and everyone) always wanted to be a main character in the tableau. I remember the Christmas Eve children's mass where all the CCD kids got to act out the Gospel reading with much pomp and circumstance. After the Mass, my family would all pile into the car and take a "scenic" route home looking at Christmas lights, singing carols, and eating hamburgers (yes, that was our Christmas eve dinner--Hamburger Stand).
I remember waking up at 3 in the morning and walking around the house, dimly lit by the twinkling tree lights and various Christmas villages set up with lights in the windows, gazing in wonder at the plethora of gifts newly set out for our discovery.
The Santa cookies were eaten and the milk gone; the Christmas Kringle (pronounced: kring-ly) was on the table waiting to be sliced for breakfast; and our stockings were stuffed to overflowing.
Then there was a Christmas morning one year when my younger sister and I woke up at 7am. The sun was up (we always had to wait until sunrise to open our Santa presents) and mom and dad were up too (we usually had to drag them out of bed)! We felt "grown up" and that we had somehow "missed" the experience of Christmas. But... I still get giddy when I wrap presents. I love to decorate the house and to revel in the warmth of the home while the cold weather blusters outside. I love the soft glow of Christmas lights (on a tree, in the window, on a garland) at night after the sun has gone down. I love the sparkle and tinkle of the ornaments on the tree. I love to bake!! cookies, cakes, candies, drinks (nothing ever tops momma's home-made egg nog!). I love Christmas music, movies, and letters.
And this is T's and my first Christmas "to ourselves." When we were dating we each went home for C'mas; when we were engaged we went to my parents' house; our first married Christmas was at T's parents' house. Not that we mind "sharing" our Christmas, of course. There are few things better than spending time with family at the holidays! But.. we got our OWN tree this year! We decorated it with our ornaments--ornaments we bought on our honeymoon, ornaments we were given as wedding presents, ornaments from our childhood. We're beginning our own traditions and customs.
I will still make the Christmas Morning Kringle, just like Momma always did. We will sing the Byzantine Advent prayers every night, just like T's family does. We will get Kris Kringle presents and leave out cookies for Santa (T says "Sure we can do that. I like cookies!"). Then when we have children, we can tell them the stories of our first Christmas in Boston; about our first (small) tree and the presents we got. About how it might be "Mommy's first white Christmas." What we had for dinner (Christmas roast, mmmmm!)--how we started most of the traditions they will be familiar with when they ask us how it all got started.. So here's to Christmas--to traditions old and new; to egg nog, colored lights, sparkles, and lots of singing to the New Born King!

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