This week I thought it would be fun to share a bit of Q&A about my personal Christmas traditions ... getting in the mood for the season, ya know. So here ya go:
Q: Tell us about your first Christmas memory?
A: I must have been about four years old. I remember running into the family room and seeing the presents under the tree. Later I unwrapped one for me – a black stuffed poodle that actually barked. It was wonderful. I had never seen anything so magnificent in all my life. Of course, I don’t have that poodle anymore. I don’t even like poodles so much (being more of a boxer person ;-)), but I’ll never forget that little black dog that barked.
Q: Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.
A: My favorite Christmas memories (and tradition) from when I was a kid, is of getting up before dawn on Christmas morning, running to fireplace with my brother, getting all the stockings, and racing back to my parents’ bed. My mom was always awake and excited. My dad pretended to be sleepy and complained. Then, with lots of giggling and the thrill of anticipation, we’d pull out the gifts from our stockings one by one. They were simple things, boring really – M&M’s, a toothbrush, some silly plastic toy. Things that would be used up or forgotten in just a few short days. And yet, there was something special about being together, being happy, laughing, that makes those times such neat memories for me.
So, now of course, with kids of my own, stockings are a big deal. We open them first thing on Christmas morning, on our bed. And it’s still just as fun as it used to be, even though I’m all grown up!
Q: When do you put up your tree?
A: When I was growing up, a fun tradition was putting together the artificial tree together. But when I got married, my husband’s tradition was going out to cut down a fresh tree from a Christmas tree farm the day after Thanksgiving. So, for the first 19 years of our marriage, we cut down a tree after Thanksgiving, cleaned it, put it up, and spent the remaining weeks trying to keep it watered and cleaning up needles from the floor (oh, that was tons of fun when the twins were one and crawling around!)
But a couple years ago, something amazing happened. My hubby said on Thanksgiving day, “Maybe we should get a fake tree this year. They’ve got some really nice looking ones at Costco.” After picking my jaw up off the floor, I smiled and said, “Great idea. Maybe we should.” And we did - the 9 ft. one with matching garland for our log staircase and rails. No watering. No needles . . . I am a happy woman. And it looks fantastic. I also bought a pine-scented candle so the house smells like pine tree. The best of all worlds! This year, the tree's up, the lights are on ... and so far the ornaments are still in the box at the bottom of the tree. Alas!
Q: Describe the decorating at your house.
A: This is how it usually goes: “No, no! Put it ON the tree. ON the tree. That’s not for your mouth. Put it back. Don’t hit your sister over the head with that. Ahhhh! That one’s breakable. Give it to me. No, no, don’t throw it. That’s it. Here, this nice soft one is for you. No, not to eat … ON the tree.”
In other words, decorating pretty much consists of rescuing all breakable ornaments and putting them way up high on the tree, and redecorating the bottom third with the “safe” ornaments about every half hour, as they remove them and hide them in odd places.
As for other decorations – nativities, little trees, old fashioned santas – all breakable ones on the mantle or the high shelf in the kitchen. Stuffed snowmen, dogs, etc., down to play with. Also, a big hit is the Little People Nativity in a Christmas basket. Basket comes out every morning for play, back away every evening for a little bit of order for Mommy’s sanity.
Q: What is your favorite Christmas song or album?
A: I love “We Will Find Him” on Michael Card’s CD “The Promise: A Celebration of Christ’s Birth (1991)”. But then, I’m a big Michael Card fan in general. Other than that, I love to hear Nat King Cole sing the old favorites like O Come All Ye Faithful (my favorite Christmas hymn), O Little Town of Bethlehem, and O Holy Night.
Q: It’s Christmas Eve… anthing different this year?
A: My wonderful hubby, Bryan, is playing his trombone in both Christmas Eve services at our church. Should be fun. Can't wait!
Q: Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?
A: Three words: Five. Little. Kids. So, as you can imagine, a trip to the mall spells n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e. I shop online as much as possible, or even better, have my hubby shop on line.
Q: Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?
A: Oh, I love Christmas! It’s the most wonderful birthday party of all! The birthday of God incarnate, when the infinite God of the universe was born as a tiny baby in a stable. Wow! So, I love Santa Claus, because at Jesus’ birthday we ought to have the best birthday clown ever. And who’s better than a jolly guy in a red suit? I love the decorations, because Jesus’ birthday party ought to have the most fantastic, sparkling, beautiful decorations of all. I love the gift-giving, because what better way to celebrate the greatest gift of all than to be generous with others? I love the warmth, the laughter, the way people are kinder to others, give more, and get together to enjoy the season. That’s just “right” for a celebration of Jesus. So, to me, Christmas means that God loves me, loves us all, enough to do the crazy-impossible . . . to become one of us, to be born a baby, and to someday die on a cross and raise from the dead – all so we can be with him, forever. So, that’s Christmas to me – a celebration of the incredible love of a wondrous, vivid, breath-taking God.