Christmas Traditions of my Childhood

Oh how I loved Christmas!

My earliest memory of Christmas was when my family lived in Long Beach, California. I can remember walking outside with my mom and looking up at the sky seeing red flashing lights and just KNOWING it was Rudolph leading the sleigh as Santa was coming!!!

We had real Christmas trees for a few years – with those great big bulbs that (if I remember correctly) clipped onto the branches of the trees. They were HUGE and had fuses (think “A Christmas Story”) and I loved all the multicolored lights on the tree – with the brightly colored tinsel – and the growing collection of hand made ornaments my brother Dan and I brought home from school.

We always had stockings – stuffed to the brim on Christmas morning – and it became tradition that we were allowed free reign to empty our stockings before my parents got up and before we could open any other presents. We’d always have nuts in the shell, an orange or apple, a candy cane, some chocolate, a new toothbrush, and sometimes small wrapped gifts hidden within our stockings.

After Dave came along, we figured out that we could get HIM to ask my parents to get out of bed and get them downstairs and NOBODY would get into trouble. lol…

We opened gifts from one another on Christmas eve, and opened all of our “Santa” gifts on Christmas morning.

BUT my favorite Christmas tradition of ALL TIME – was when my dad started reading Luke 2: 1-18 to tell us the REAL Christmas story – and every time he would read it I would get choked up.

Can you IMAGINE seeing the host of angels in the sky proclaiming God’s promise born to man?

But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord! And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find [after searching] a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. [I Little Man. 2:34; II Kings 19:29; Isa. 7:14.] Then suddenly there appeared with the angel an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor]. (Luke 2:10-14 ~Amp)

Can you imagine being Mary, his mother, and receiving the host of visitors who not only honored but worshipped the child you’d just brought into the world? Oh my goodness – I would just get goosebumps thinking about it.

And then we’d sing, “Happy Birthday” to Jesus – which would again fill my eyes with tears and we’d celebrate Christ’s birth.

Dad would select one of us kids to play Santa by handing out presents – and in a very neat and orderly fashion (think Marine Corps Drill Instructor!) we’d each open a gift while the others watched and pack our wrapping paper into the trash bag as we went. =) It was all good fun and now I understand that at least one of my brothers continues this tradition!

We’d usually spend the day together as a family – being away from my parents’ families, we often found reason to spend time together – we’d go sledding or build snowmen – or eat the vast array of goodies mom had spent making or we’d spent decorating. We’d watch movies together and try out our new gifts. We’d talk on the phone to our grandparents and maybe some aunts & uncles – and it was always a really special time together.

I often remember my childhood Christmases with the misty fondness that is sweetly portrayed in one of my – now favorite – Christmas movies: A Christmas story. The innocence and sweetness of those Christmases past are precious to me.

How did you celebrate Christmas as a child?