Sunday, December 02, 2007

We Need a Little Christmas

I was just over reading Annette's blog and her list of favorite Christmas traditions, and it got me thinking about Christmases in my own life. I remember laying awake at night, trying so hard to make myself go to sleep so the morning would come quicker. We weren't allowed to get up at 4 a.m. -- my parents were very serious about that. They would come in and wake us up when they were good and ready for Christmas morning to begin, so we'd usually get up around 7, after most kids we knew had already ripped through their pile and broken half their toys.

It all really started on Christmas Eve. We'd read the Christmas story, both out of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and then we'd each open up one present. In the morning we'd open the rest. Christmas for us was usually prefaced with a warning --"Christmas is going to be a little bit small this year" -- but I don't remember any Christmas that wasn't chock full of gifts. I know my parents worked hard to make the holidays nice for us, and while we didn't get scads of presents, we sure did have enough.

Now, as an adult, there are certain things I make sure to do every year. I have to watch my Christmas movies. These are, in no particular order:

"White Christmas"
"Mr. Krueger's Christmas"
"Elf"
"The Nutcracker" with Barishnikov
"The Santa Clause" series
"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

If I miss one of these, I feel like my whole holiday has just been ruined. I start on Thanksgiving night, usually with "The Santa Clause." In fact, I'm going to interrupt myself for a funny -- in 2004, we watched "The Santa Clause" on Thanksgiving, as always, and then put in "The Santa Clause 2" on the Saturday right after. We were watching it when my water broke with Benjamin. We didn't finish that movie for several days.

In addition to the movies, we have to go doorbell ditching with cookies at least once. I can't handle the thought of a Christmas season going by without taking cookies to someone anonymously. We've also started playing a game -- not only do the receivers not know who brought them cookies, but the givers don't know who they gave cookies to. That's right -- we like to make up several plates of cookies, drive to a neighborhood where we don't know anyone, and let the kids choose where the cookies will go. Then we park around the corner, our brave daddy goes crunching across the ice and snow, and the cookies are delivered. There's just something about imagining the looks on people's faces . . . "I can't figure out who brought these!" . . . that makes the holiday all the more magical.

My kids have five cousins near their ages who live nearby, and every year they draw names and give gifts to their cousins. They always look forward to who they're going to get and plan their shopping out very carefully.

I also love Christmas shopping when it's snowing outside. Sure, it doesn't do a lot for traffic, but I love the snow and I love being out in it. It's gorgeous. We had our first big snowfall yesterday and I had my errands all mapped out -- and even though my Christmas shopping is pretty close to done, I had the strongest desire to start all over again. The snow just put me right in the mood. And there's nothing like driving along in the snow while listening to Christmas carols.

For me, Christmas is the whole season, it's not just the day itself or the combination of Christmas and Christmas Eve. It's the whole month of December. It's everything that leads up to it and comes away from it. It's the anticipation, the joy of finding the perfect gift for someone, watching their faces when they open it. And it's seeing the lights reflected in my children's eyes. Christmas used to be all about me, but the minute I became a mother, the focus shifted to them. I want them to have wonderful Christmas memories, just like I do.

16 comments:

Karlene said...

My parents wouldn't let us get up early either. My grandparents would always come over Christmas morning and set off firecrackers under the bedroom windows. We couldn't get out of bed until those firecrackers went off!

It was lots of fun though. All the kids would sneak into my room about 4:00 a.m. because my room faced the street. We'd whisper in the dark and tell stories until we saw my grandparents car coming down the street. :)

Jen said...

Your traditions sound fun! I too like to celebrate the entire month of December with my family, rather than just one or two days.

Marta O. Smith said...

Have you seen "The Christmas Shoes" yet? The movie is based on the Christmas song of the same name. If you're in the mood for a good cry, this would be the one to watch.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I don't know, Marta -- that's one of those really-hard-songs-to-get-through-without-bawling. Do I dare watch the movie??

Luisa Perkins said...

So many great traditions! Now I want to make some cookies and go doorbell ditching with them.

Rachelle said...

Thanks for sharing Tristi! Just reading your thoughts makes me even more excited for Christmas. We just finished decorating gingerbread houses with our girls. Kids make the holidays so much fun.

East of Eden said...

What no "Christmas Story" on your movie list? That's our favorite, along with the Charlie Brown Christmas.

Love the new template, it's much easier to read. :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Family Christmas traditions are the things that make the holiday season so magical.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Sorry, East of Eden -- I really can't stand the dysfunctional family in "A Christmas Story." Watching them dote over their snotty youngest is just too much for me. Although, it is a funny show.

carrie & troy keiser said...

I love this post! thanks for sharing!

Rebecca Talley said...

A girl in our stake and her friend made cookies for neighbors and delivered them one night to a neighbor who, in turn, called the police on the girls. After a big, huge ordeal the girls were fined by a judge, the stake president got entangled in the mess, and the girls ended up on Jay Leno.

I love hearing about people's traditions. Thanks for sharing.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Holy cow, Rebecca! Why would anyone call the police? Maybe they were oatmeal and he wanted chocolate chip??

Lisa said...

This is lovely! I can understand about the feelings with the snow, too. It's harder to get into the spirit when it is 75. I'm not complaining, but it does feel different!

Leigh said...

Speaking of great movies to include, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, The Bishops Wife(with Cary Grant), The Preachers Wife(Same story with Whitney Houston), and of course Jimmy Stewarts It's a Wonderful Life, there is also Clarence with Robert Caradine. Family Man with Nicholas Cage is fun too.

I like to get a new Christmas book to read every Christmas Eve but my all time favorite is "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey". I just found out that Tom Berringer made the movie, I put it on my Netflix list, but it has a long wait for it, if anyone else has seen it, let me know your opinion!

kris said...

Hi Tristi - as you know, I haven't been here for awhile - very bad, but I'm hoping after the holidays...lol!! Anyway, just caught up on your posts - you post a lot!!

I love this post on Christmas - it's beautiful. And I like your secret cookie drop off - I'm sure you have people scratching their heads!!

The ketchup wake-up - honestly, my kids never did anything like that. I'm thinking you have creative children!!!!

Shellie said...

I know it's corny but i have to see It's a Wonderful Life, and Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Miracle on 34th Street too.

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