Monday, December 22, 2008

It'll Be a Merry Christmas

This year will be a very special Christmas in our family. This is the first year since my youngest sister Erin was married that we'll all be together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. How exciting! The house will be hopping with kids--and adults, too, because we get kind of crazy when we're all together. There will be 14 of us here, and yes, there is room for everyone!

Today I made cut-out sugar cookies and I can't wait to decorate them with the kids. It'll bring back many memories of doing the same thing at their ages. Here's what I remember...
After the cookies were baked and cooled, Mom would gather us 3 girls at the table and have a piece of waxed paper for each of us. Each of us would have several bowls with various decorations... red sugar, green sugar, cinnamon candies, and other sprinkles. Next to the bowls would be a paper towel, along with the strict instructions Do not lick your fingers if you get frosting on them. Isn't that like telling a kid not to peek at the presents? Makes them want to do it all the more? I think it's against a child's reflexes to wipe frosting on a paper towel. After all, didn't God make tongues for that reason? I suppose we didn't understand at that age the real reason for not licking our fingers. If we licked them and tried decorating the cookies then, we would get the sugar and sprinkles stuck to our fingers, creating the need to lick the sugar off, and the vicious cycle continues. So many things become clearer when you are grown-up. I'm sure I'll even tell my nieces that they can't lick their fingers, yet I'll completely understand if they sneak a taste anyway.

Christmas Eve is usually our big Christmas celebration. Growing up we would go with Mom to the Christmas Eve service at church (Dad always had to work), and then we'd meet Dad after he was done with work. After travelling 45 minutes, we'd be at my grandparents' house--the little cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water. The oil lamp would be lit on the table, providing plenty of light and the small wood stove would kick out plenty of heat for the cozy little house. We knew what the menu would be even before we got there. Ham on bun, potato salad, cranberries, frog eye salad (that's another story, but not as gross as you might think), lime jello with pears, and of course pumpkin pie with REAL whipped cream for dessert. After the dishes were put away, we could hardly control the anticipation to open presents. Once presents were opened, we would usually play with them under the table, because it was a great "playhouse." All too soon, it was time to leave, and we would load in the car, us 3 girls huddled together against the cold. We would usually fall asleep on the trip home, and what a rude awakening it was to have to get out of the car and into the cold again.

A few "new" traditions have started in our family as well. This Christmas Eve, we will once again have our traditional "Grandma" dinner, since she's here with us this Christmas. After dinner, we will sit around in the dark and listen to "The Innkeeper's Dream," a dramatization of what could have happened the night Jesus was born. Then when that's done, my dad will read the Christmas story from Luke 2. The kids are usually very quiet during this time, but toward the end, they get antsy because they know present time is coming soon. Just when they're about to burst with excitement, Mom will say, "I suppose it's time for presents." A great cheer will explode from the kids and then the chaos will begin. It makes you feel like a kid again, just watching the expressions on their faces. The kids will go to bed WAY too late, and if we have any energy left, we might play games.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that I need to finish some Christmas presents, so I better get to it. Once family arrives, there'll be NO time for that. Auntie Rah (as I'm commonly known) will be entertaining children and probably doing some crafts sometime. So I better get my work done now.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a "Good Night."


Jessica said...

Heather, I enjoyed reading this post and all your traditions! Great memories!! How did the cookies with your nieces go? Any finger-licking? =)

Heather said...

Yes, there was plenty of finger-licking. Red sugar is good for sticking to little fingers, and you just HAVE to lick it off, don't you? I think I even sneaked a lick of frosting. They had a great time, and most of the cookies didn't have more than 47 M&Ms on them! :)