I've grown bored with the #reverb10 prompts, but saw someone else (now I can't recall who) blogging about family Christmas traditions; and reading the post made me realize that I should put down a few of mine, rather than assuming that I'll always remember them easily.
What I remember about getting the tree, and decorating it, is that it brought on inevitable arguments between my parents. We had a living room with gigantic ceilings (20 feet?), and so, traditionally, we cut a tree from the 5 acre parcel of property that the house stood on. But getting the right height, and getting it in through the front door (and then getting the lights on) was often a challenge. The benefit of such a tree, however, was that there was always room for all the ornaments. No need to pick and choose.
A lot of what I remember involves the lead-up to Christmas, and our anticipation, which was such that my brothers and I used to wake up and tear downstairs at 3 or 4 in the morning to open stockings, and then try to get our parents up by 5. This, they informed us, was strictly not on, and a rule was made that we could not go downstairs before 6. Reliably, we were awake by then, and congregating in one bedroom, staring at the clock as the numbers blinked forward, before practically falling down the stairs at 6 in our hurry. It's a wonder no one broke bones on Christmas morning.
Not knowing how stockings worked in other children's houses, I never stopped to think of whether our traditions were odd, but now I look back and think that they were an indication of our being a foodie family, or maybe an early indication of my own foodie-ness. We had tangerines and chocolates, as is traditional -- but one year, I asked for a stocking full of Granny Smith apples, and got it, and was duly thrilled. I was equally thrilled to find a whole can of black olives. I can't remember whether I requested those specifically, but saw it as a great treat, and not any sort of mediocrity. To have a can of olives that it was not necessary to share, and which one might eat however one pleased (i.e., first mounting each olive on a finger tip) was highly satisfying.
I think we got other small trinkets -- wind-up toys, hair scrunchies, micro machines, marbles -- but what I appreciated most was the food.
Friends in elementary school loved the film A Christmas Story, which my parents informed me was "vulgar," but we loved watching the Disney special "Mickey's Christmas Carol," and to this day, I find that I have the whole thing memorized in my head, and when I watch it on YouTube, I know precisely what's coming a few seconds before it does.
One year, when things were particularly bad financially, we got presents from a charitable organization. My parents felt (rightly, I think), that they were more generous than we needed them to be, but I did NOT appreciate the fact that what they gave back on my behalf were a bunch of Sweet Valley High books, which I would have liked to read, trashy or not.
The most horrifying Christmas, though, that I can remember, is one that I thought wouldn't happen. Christmas Eve, I was wearing cowboy boots, and my brothers and I were outside, and the eldest of the three (2 year younger than me) was whipping me with a thin branch switch. When he wouldn't quit, I pirouetted round, and kicked him in the stomach. My mother, furious, told me that Christmas was canceled, and I, horrified, believed her. I spent most of the evening in my room, crying into my pillow. The next day, all was forgiven -- but the memory of thinking that I had ruined/lost Christmas is still vivid, and terrifying.
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