Christmas Traditions of my Adolescence

Yesterday I wrote about the childhood Christmas traditions I celebrated with my family. Today I’m writing about my Christmas remembrances as a teenager…

As we got older, of course my mom was able to incorporate us into some of the holiday preparations – and this is when Christmas REALLY got fun for me.

Through the years, my mom had collected BOXES and boxes (and boxes) of Christmas decorations and collectibles that always came out as we began decorating for Christmas. The disorder and chaos (and our intense enthusiasm) often drove my dad out of the house! We would begin opening boxes and talk about the candles that mom got from “so and so” that I didn’t remember seeing before because she received them just last year. Or finding the ornaments and decorations my brothers and I made as a child and how special they still were to my mom and how they would find a place of honor among the decorations.

The years that mom let my brothers and I have free reign with the Christmas decorations were so much fun. On some levels it gave her more time to spend in the kitchen – but I’m sure it was still crazy-busy for her because we’d be trying to do 3 things at once!

We ALWAYS put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. That was the beginning of the Christmas season for us.

My brother Dan was so talented, and the year he painted a huge Christmas display on our front window was so awesome. I got to put out all the candles and knick knacks and collectibles as I packed away our everyday things. One box at a time – each new box revealing treasures and trinkets that added to our Christmas festivity!

Getting to help make the Buckeyes, English toffee, Monster cookies, Haystacks, decorated Sugar cookies, Chocolate-Dipped Ritz & Pnut butter cracker sandwiches, White bark pretzels, Fudge, Church window candy, Graham cracker cookies, Date cookies, and more – oh was THAT great!!! My mom kept cooking and baking and pulling out more recipes – and our freezer was PACKED full of sweet, sugary, chocolatey goodness. Sometimes we’d plate them up immediately and take them in boxes to church to pass out to our friends. We’d have plates of goodies for neighbors, too – and of course, we’d sneak a few goodies every chance we got! Being part of the baking & cooking was great fun for us and I really learned to love baking during these times!

When we had the chance to visit my grandparents – who lived in New Mexico at the time – we had even MORE special memories. We didn’t often have Christmas with family because my dad was in the Air Force and we were stationed miles away from them. But during high school – while we lived in Washington state, my grandparents lived in New Mexico.

My grandmother was a preacher’s wife. She was always giving away stuff to people in need – she was always so generous and loving. And she ALWAYS had a pot of coffee on…

She & my grandpa drank coffee all day long – and when we’d hug or kiss – I’d get that whiff of coffee on their breath – and I think that’s when my love affair with coffee really began! My grandma’s soft cheek mingling with the smell of fresh coffee – now THERE’S comfort!!!

My grandma’s house was often decorated in lots of beautiful and sweet and whimsical Christmas items, too – many of them gifts from friends and family (including the 3 of us kids). She made Hard Candy, fudge, church window candy, date ball cookies, and we could eat our fill. Like many grandmothers – she’d sneak us an “extra” of whatever it was we wanted – and grinned while she did it.

I can remember the last Christmas dinner we had with her. She used her special china and let me set the table for everyone. It was SOOOOO incredibly beautiful. I was in awe of the lovely plates and dishes and she let me have my way making the table pretty. We had these Christmas goblets and mugs that she collected from McDonalds (do you remember those?) and when we got to drink eggnog out of the goblets, it was BIG stuff!!!

There was more food than we could possibly eat, and again – even if we didn’t clean our plates, she was handing us sweets as we’d walk past her. What a woman!

When I think about Christmas as a teenager – this Christmas with her was really very special to me.

Do you have any special Christmas memories as a teenager? Was your celebration any different than that of your childhood?