Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!
Don’t you love those old Christmas songs? I do! Remember Christmas when you were a kid? The magic of the season? Looking through the Sears catalog (or Toys”R”Us for you younger folks) and dreaming of having all the special toys in the pictures. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival. On Christmas morning my kids would wake up and wait at the top of the stairs together before coming down to see what Santa left for them. They waited so that Mom (me) could get the video camera set up and record their first sight of Christmas. I treasured those moments and wanted to capture them forever. My Christmas joy. Santa did not wrap presents at our house, but left them by the hearth in line with each kid’s stocking, just like he did for my sisters and me when we were kids. However, I had some explaining to do since Santa DID wrap all the presents at our next-door neighbor’s house, where my son’s best friend lived. I told him our neighbor requested that of Santa, and somehow he believed it!
One year, my son and my next door neighbor’s son (both named Michael!) left Santa matching letters that all they wanted for Christmas was a tunnel between our houses so they could go back and forth all the time. (Like they didn’t do that already?!?!) So my neighbor and I wrote letters from Santa to the boys explaining why Santa could not build the tunnel that year. We used the same ink pen, paper, and I think only one of us wrote both letters – same handwriting. They fell for it hook, line and sinker! I loved playing Santa for my kids, keeping the Christmas magic alive for them.
“The love in our family flows strong and deep, leaving us memories to treasure and keep.”
Life is so simple for children who find Christmas joy easily. But we grow up and life happens. We become parents, have stressful jobs, and try to make it through each day, thinking, “if only there were more hours in the day.” And sometimes life throws us curve balls. As adults, we have to try a little harder than children to find that joy. But it is definitely there! I have always found joy in my Christmas traditions. As you know, I am not a big fan of change, so traditions followed us each year, especially at Christmas. But they were all fun and meaningful.
“The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet memories of our family that we pass down to our children.”
I went to a Christmas party 25 years ago in NC where the host family had decorated gingerbread houses. I saw how much fun this could be and decided I would do this with my family. I went home and made gingerbread houses for my kids to decorate and it soon became one of our most fun traditions at Christmas. All the kids decorated one, even the youngest in a high chair. Many years we invited friends and neighbors to join in. My children were very creative and competitive in decorating their houses with ponds, sleighs, fire logs, wreaths, Christmas trees, snowmen… you name it! We used all sorts of candies (saved their Halloween candy every year) and always looked at candy as possible decorating material. Once their masterpiece was complete, I would sift powdered sugar over their creation as we all sang “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” We decorated gingerbread houses through their college years. Last year, I continued this tradition with a very special group of children who were also experiencing a shake up in their family during the holiday season. What fun we had! We are going to do it again this year, and for many years to come.
It was tradition that I got a new Christmas sweater each year. Many for my birthday (in November) and always one for the Christmas party my neighbor and I hosted for 15 years to kick off the Christmas season, get the ladies in our neighborhood together, and benefit a charity. I have quite a collection! And I have been sporting my collection each day since December 1st: “The 25 Days of Christmas Sweaters.” Here are this past week’s joyous sweaters!
Our family always sponsored children from an Angel tree at Christmas. This was a fun project for the kids when they were young, to shop for gifts for our “Angels”. I tried to choose children close to the ages of my kids. They got to “help” Santa and provide Christmas magic for someone else. It was a good reminder to them that there are many people less fortunate than they were. I continue this tradition each year.
When we were living in NC, Christmas breakfast at my sister’s house was the main event on Christmas day. Country ham, eggs, grits, pancakes, Moravian sugarcake, and fruit. And presents! (Does it get any better than that?!) I hosted Christmas dinner. Also fun! Once we moved to VA and stopped traveling for Christmas, we continued with a big traditional breakfast and Christmas dinner, all on Christmas china.
“Family, like branches on a tree, grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”
Last year, my first Christmas SOLO, my kids and I found ourselves looking to our traditions and each other for stability in our changing family life. So we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner followed by church. We watched old Christmas movies till very late. But Christmas morning, they did not wait at the top of the stairs and let me videotape them! No, my older daughter and I went for a very early morning run and returned to wake up the others and have our traditional breakfast and open presents. My daughter and son-in- law went to his family for lunch and we all met back at my house for our traditional Christmas dinner. It was a wonderful Christmas with lots of fun, laughter, and love. No tears.
Today is my Granddawg Paige’s first birthday! Happy Birthday sweet Paige! (Named after the great UNC basketball player, Marcus Paige!) Looking forward to her birthday pawty this weekend!
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…”
As we head into the final weeks before Christmas, look for traditions to rediscover or start in your family. Find your Christmas magic and share it. I plan to continue my traditions with my children. And I am thankful to be able to spend this weekend with my whole family, the people most important in my life, as we celebrate Christmas early and attend the candlelight Lovefeast at our home church, following our family traditions and making special memories. Try to spend time with those you love this Christmas season, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.