When you think back to your Christmases as a child, what do you remember?
Realizing what you remember–and what you don’t–can help you figure out what’s good to emphasize for your own kids!
Today’s my 29th anniversary, and so I’ve invited Rebecca on the blog today to take over and share some memories she has of Gregoire Christmases, but, most importantly, what she can’t remember.
When I look back on Christmases from my childhood, I remember three things.
First, we always baked a birthday cake for Baby Jesus.
We started when I was 3 or 4, and it’s my earliest Christmas memory. It became one of our family’s traditions, since we never did the Santa thing, and because, well, it was Baby Jesus’ birthday after all. Plus my family loves cake. So any excuse pretty much goes.
Second, Katie and I agonized over waiting for my parents to wake up.
One particular time it was 5:15 AM Christmas morning when I was 6 years old, and Katie was 4.
Katie and I weren’t allowed to wake Mom and Dad up until it was 6:30 (pure torture). But we were way too excited to fall back asleep. So Katie and I got out our favourite stuffed animals and started to bargain with the clock. “PLEASE make it be 5:16, clock! PLEASE! Teddy wants it to be 5:16 so badly!” And then it would turn to 5:16 and we’d start all over again with the next number.
We sat and did that for a solid hour and fifteen minutes.
And then we ran as quickly (and loudly) as we could to Mom and Dad’s room, jumped into their bed and wiggled and giggled excitedly until they woke up. And then when we became teenagers the roles reversed! Although Mom and Dad never really wiggled and giggled as much as we did.
Third, it was really laid back.
I remember waking up for Christmas when I was 8 and Katie was 6. We woke up at 6:00 that year, because we heard something. We peeked out of our bedroom door to catch Mom sneaking downstairs with an armful of presents. She froze, paused, and then whispered, “Santa’s running a little late?”
We laughed and went back to bed, and she let us come down a whole fifteen minutes earlier that year than any of the years before. Score!
Our family did things at its own pace–we weren’t scrambling to drive from one city to the next, but we made sure to see whoever was available. We didn’t stress about having the perfect Christmas tree, or the perfect presents–and it wasn’t a big deal if mom and dad forgot to put the presents under the tree. It was just fun.
But there’s one thing that I cannot remember no matter how hard I try.
And that’s the presents.
When I look back, 3 presents stand out to me from my childhood (before age 16, since my memory’s still pretty good for the last five years). A foosball table, a giant sleeve of Barbie dresses, and a tea set. And I honestly cannot remember the rest.
I remember opening presents, and I remember being excited about the presents I got, and organizing them in my toy boxes and drawers in my room, and purging old toys to make room for the new ones. But I simply cannot remember what exactly I received.
And I think that’s because the highlights of the holiday were never what we got. And we got awesome presents. But most of our Christmas wasn’t about that–gifts were over by 9:00, but our day had only started. My family did such an amazing job of making Christmas about celebrating Jesus and spending time with family–and making that time together fun.
Mom joked around when she forgot to put the presents under the tree. Katie and I bonded by pleading with our clock to speed up time. I stood on a chair to “help” stir the Baby Jesus Birthday Cake, because I couldn’t reach the counter otherwise. It didn’t matter if the tree was perfect (which is good, because it was really ugly), if our hair was curled for the Christmas Eve service, or if everything didn’t go according to plan.
What mattered was just that we were together, and that was made the priority.
So I don’t remember the presents. But I definitely remember Christmas.
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What about you? What was special to you as a child? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Blog Contributor, Author, and Podcaster
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