I've always loved to decorate and Christmas is the ultimate time for that. My mom had to keep me in check lol! Every year I could hardly wait to start the process but she made me wait. After the tree(s) was up, we weren't allowed to turn the lights on til 10 days before Christmas because we were poor and our parents didn't want to make the electric bill go higher. I bought a large tree at a yard sale in my early teens. Every year I decorated it in early December, long before I was allowed to put up the one in the living room lol! I even went all out decorating the gifts. Sometimes I went to the homes of family friends and decorated for them as well.
The outside of the house wasn't neglected either, and one year my display literally stopped traffic lol! It was a main attraction in that town that year. My tomcat liked to destroy the lights and every year I forgot about that until I heard the familiar crunching. He only messed with them while I was actually putting them up, never after they were installed.
As children, on Christmas Eve after we were all supposed to be in bed, we would keep sneaking downstairs to see if the presents were under the tree yet. We didn't stop until they showed up, and we would use our flashlights to examine them, dreaming of what they might contain. This happened multiple times during the night. Remember, we were poor. We didn't get spoiled rotten whenever we went to town, so Christmas was very exciting for us.
Looking back, what we received wasn't the "in" kind of toys. We really weren't into the latest fads. I can't remember even one Christmas that I was disappointed. Ever. I was always overjoyed with what I got, as were my siblings.
Our parents encouraged creativity and praised our accomplishments, making our childhood kind of magical. They allowed us to just be kids, as well as sparking our imaginations in multiple ways. My siblings and I would gather in front of the only tv we had and watch the Christmas specials, like Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (my favorite) and Frosty the snowman, and Peanuts, etc. I used to wonder if I might meet Rudolph someday while hiking the woods behind our house. Magical.
Mom made the most awesome brownies, but she only made them twice a year: at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all looked forward to them. I have that recipe and I think of her each time I make them. I miss her soooooo much. Christmas will never have the same joy for me now that she's gone. As a family, we didn't even get together the first Christmas after she passed away. Even though I still like to decorate, Christmas is a sad time for me without her. I try to make the best of it, but I always have a good cry while decorating the tree. The truly awesome thing though, is that she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior, so right now I know she's walking on streets of gold in paradise with our Lord. I'll see her again someday, as Jesus is also my Savior.
For those same two holidays, mom let me set the table in the dining room instead of having the meal in the kitchen. That was a huge deal in my mind. It was...fancy...and I loved it. I inherited that table and chairs and it makes me remember all those good times. We played games as a family, made "tents" with blankets draped over it and did homework at that table too. I'm the fourth generation to have it.
Most years, it was tradition that we would set aside a day to celebrate Christmas with mom's family and a day with dad's family. Neither of my parents was the "golden child" in their families, so us kids were treated like second best, so these weren't my fondest memories, but I still usually had at least some fun.
Oh my, I've written a book lol! I'll stop here.