Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas

I often think back to my childhood and the wonderful memories that I have of our Christmas traditions.    Searching for where Santa hid the gifts in the basement.  (Yes--I did my share of peeking back in the day.  Still do for that matter.)  Christmas concerts for choir and band.  Days and days of baking in preparation for the big day.  My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all gathering on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.  Oyster stew (and sloppy joes for my Mom and any of the kids that didn't want oyster stew) and gift opening at our house on Christmas Eve.  Attending Christmas Eve services at our Methodist Church.  I even sang solos on occasion that night.  I remember singing "O Holy Night".  We had our Christmas Day celebration at my grandma and grandpa's house.  Always lots of activity and energy.

Since moving away from home (with a few exceptions of going to Denver for Christmas), Christmas has been a much quieter affair.  Not necessarily bad.  Just different. Our traditions have changed.  Our pre-holiday parties have become the anticipated events for me to take the place of big family celebrations.  Christmas Eve and Day have become quiet family affairs with just the four of us or five of us.  And those numbers are now dwindling with Tom not being able to join us the last two Christmases.  Gift opening in Bill's family was Christmas Day so we have switched up the day that we open gifts according his family's tradition.  With adult children, gift opening takes all of five minutes as there are fewer gifts to open.  Not the hour or more that it used to take growing up, waiting for each person to open their many gifts under the tree.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were work holidays for me this year.  Since Bev bought pies and we were planning on takeout for Christmas Eve and a relative simple stress free Christmas dinner, I didn't really have any preparations to make. So it was going to be a very quiet day at home.  I don't do any baking anymore.  I'm trying to lose weight so having homemade cookies around is too much of a temptation.  But Christopher was bored and I needed to think of something to make this holiday special for him.  So I asked him if he wanted to make cookies with me.  We looked through my recipe box to see what recipes that I had from when I made Christmas cookies at home and picked out a few for him to choose from.  He picked out peanut blossoms and pecan fingers.  So we headed out to Burgerville for lunch and then the grocery store to get what we needed to do our baking.  We had fun spending time with each other planning and baking our cookies.  And they sure do taste a lot better than store bought cookies.

We started a new tradition last year.  Because we were all giving Chris cash to go to St. Louis last year, I wasn't anticipating that we would have any gifts to open.  And with Tom not joining us for Christmas for the first time, I was feeling rather like Christmas wasn't even worth celebrating.  There didn't seem to be anything that would be special about Christmas last year.  So I decided that I wanted to do a family experience of going to a movie on Christmas Day.  I wanted there to be something special to remember the day.  Bill, Chris and I went to see "Skyfall" at Cinetopia and a new tradition was born.  This year, we went to see "American Hustle" and since Christopher turned 21, he was able to join us in a living room experience and enjoy a cheeseburger and hard apple cider while watching the movie.  I was a little skeptical when Bill said that was the movie he wanted to go to.  But it actually was pretty good.  I really enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence's comedic performance.  It was so different from the seriousness in the Hunger Game movies.  And even though she is a relatively minor character in the movie, she stole the show as far as I was concerned.  After the movie, we went to Bev's to start working on dinner.  We watched "Les Miserables" on DVD while we were waiting for dinner to be done.  I didn't enjoy it as much.  I have seen it in a stage production before and remember not liking the first and third acts but loving the second act.  Pretty much the same reaction this time.  I think the movie was overrated.  I do enjoy the music though.  We had a fantastic prime rib dinner.  We opened a few gifts.  We really like the hand blown wine glasses that the Speers sent us.  Tom and Maddy sent us a photo and painting.  We bought Chris a new phone so he has actually been enjoying it for several days before Christmas.  But I had also gotten him a Western sweatshirt to open on Christmas Day.

So all and all a very nice holiday.

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