I love, love, love Christmas. When people say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” it truly is for me. Back when I was a graduate student, I rented a room from a wonderful woman named Patsy who always made Christmas such an amazing experience. I’d sit on her sofa, happily watching her decorate the tree while the smell of delicious cakes, candy and baked goodies filled the air. She instilled in me such a love for the Christmas season that I vowed to continue the tradition when I had a house and family of my own.
And I do not play around; I don’t even wait until after Thanksgiving. As soon as Halloween is over, Merle is pulling the trees out of storage (yes, we have two) and I’m opening boxes and boxes of Christmas ornaments and décor. The ornaments are very important to me. I’ve been collecting them since Merle and I got our very first tree and I’m extremely sentimental about them. Each one calls up a different lovely memory. Every year, I buy Christina and Catherine a new and unique ornament and I can’t wait to pass on my collection, so they can decorate their own Christmas tree someday.
I decorate the fireplace, staircase and the rest of the house with candlesticks, stockings, ribbon, garland, sleighs and even a pair of stuffed ornate frogs, but I don’t touch the main tree until Christina comes home from college. This is sacred family bonding time; time for us to laugh and enjoy each other’s company while Christina, Catherine and I decorate the tree. Merle’s sole responsibility is to give us his seal of approval.
Over the years, we’ve also enjoyed Christmas service, travelled to visit family and attended the children’s Christmas programs. These traditions go back generations in both our families.
On Christmas Eve, we slip into our matching pajamas and open one gift. The next morning, we enjoy a Santa-sized breakfast on Christmas-themed china. Did I mention how much I love Christmas? But the fun doesn’t distract us from what the holiday season is really about; we always bow our heads in respect and acknowledgment of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Then it’s time for the scavenger hunt! We’ve been doing it since Christina was in middle school and, to this day, she still loves to partner up with her sister to figure out the clues and find their gifts.
Post-Christmas is never as exciting as pre-Christmas. I keep the decorations up as long as possible and I’m always sad as I reluctantly take down the décor, strip the trees and pack up all my beautiful ornaments. But as unhappy as this makes me, I realize this is a tradition, too.
Family traditions are important. Each generation builds on the one before it, keeping our bonds strong, keeping us rooted in our faith and keeping our history alive. I’d love to hear about your family’s holiday traditions. Tell me all about them in the comments.
From the Flakes family to yours, have a blessed and happy holiday!