Ah, the Christmas season! I love the smells, the sights and the sounds. As much as I hate how commercialized Christmas has become, I still love to sing carols, bake cookies, read the Christmas book, and decorate the house. I love holiday parties and dressing up, and as much as I detest going to church, I do enjoy Christmas mass--it must be the smell of frankincense and myrrh, coupled with the carols, lights, and the nativity. I've compiled here a list of my favorite Christmas items and memories. What are some of yours?
Favorite Christmas Carols/Songs: "I Saw Three Ships" and "Rise Up Shepherd"
Favorite Sweet Christmas Treat: Pralines, Chocolate Oranges, and Gingerbread
Favorite Tradition(s): I have too many to choose just one! Let's see...stockings and presents on Christmas morning, decorating the tree, Twelve Days of Christmas, visiting my cousins in San Antonio for Christmas dinner, making Christmas cookies and pralines, visiting the Trail of Lights, singing at the Festival of Lights at St. Edward's.
Favorite Christmas Memories: Stockings and coffee cans on Christmas morning! Stockings were the first things my brothers and I grabbed Christmas morning. Presents could wait, but we had to know what treats Santa had left us in our stockings. I still get excited each year about stockings, but no one besides my mom seems to be coordinated enough to do them just right [sigh] Another favorite memory is the coffee cans we received from "Santa." For several years, one of my dad's former coworkers would send decorated coffee cans full of fun little toys and candies for each one of us. We looked forward to these for years and we believed they really came from Santa.
Funniest gift ever Received: One year, my husband's great grandmother gave us a very lovely wall plaque that was a heart made from angel wings. I normally don't like to receive tchotckes (see above philosophy), but this is one of the few I've received that really got me excited. Well, the next year, a different relative gave us--you guessed it--the same wall plaque! We didn't really want two of them, so we re-gifted one as a wedding present to some acquaintances.
Best Christmas Gift Ever: Four gifts stick out in my mind that were received throughout my childhood--a microscope, a whole set of herb plants to grow, my hiking backpack, and contacts. If you haven't figured it out already, I was a bit of an odd duck growing up!
Biggest Pet Peeve About Christmas: when the decorations and the music come out BEFORE Thanksgiving. I think it's wrong to overshadow a holiday devoted to gratitude by having all the Christmas stuff out too early. One or two days before, ok, fine. But WEEKS before?! Really? Conversely, I always hated it that my parents waited so long to get a tree for Christmas. My mom's birthday falls on the Epiphany (Jan 6, the day the Wise Men found the Baby Jesus) and the Twelve Days of Christmas actually runs from Christmas Day to January 6th, so my folks would wait until a couple of days before Christmas to get our (real) tree and we'd keep it up until the 6th or a little thereafter so that my mom could enjoy a lovely tree on her birthday. And on that note: Mom and Dad, can you please make sure to take down the tree BEFORE the end of March this year? (I wouldn't ask if it weren't true!)
Real or Fake Christmas Tree: I have a confession to make...until this year, I was a real tree purist. I still believe nothing can top the smell, feel, and presence of a real tree, but given the circumstances a fake tree fit our needs really well. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't on ridiculous super sale and pre-lit (seriously, I don't know anyone who enjoys stringing lights). Once Sybilla and any subsequent siblings are older, we'll pick back up the tradition of picking out a live Christmas tree and decorating it!
It's Not Christmas Without: The Christmas Book. My parents have a copy of the Night Before Christmas that contains sheet music of Christmas carols in the back. We read the story on Christmas Eve and then sing some carols. Even if we're too tired, I at least read it to myself. I found it in the decorations this year and I can't wait to start this tradition with Sybilla this year!
Favorite Christmas Ornament: My favorite ornament that I own is what my family has nicknamed the "gay little elf." This happy, androgynous-looking little guy and his mate came to live with us after my mom's mother passed away years ago. This particular pair of elves are wearing nothing but little leaves over their nether regions and a leaf hat leaning forward to kiss. I stole one of the little guys a couple of years much to the protest of my mother and the large amusement of my brothers and father. My brothers goaded me on and thought it a shame that I didn't take the pair. Someday when I inherit all of the ornaments, my gay little elf will reunite with his mate in all their tchotchke glory!
Santa - Real or Not? REAL. I don't care what anyone says, Santa is real and always has been. He is the embodiment of the spirit of giving, therefore he has to exist! I think maybe he just morphs into something different as we get older.
What's Your Christmas Decor Theme? I like nostalgic and vintage items the most, but I have every style and every color of decoration, so there's no real theme. We do happen to have a number of nativities that we've gotten from several friends and relatives over the years that I guess you could say we collect them.
Happy Christmas to you all!