Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

I have a confession to make.. Growing up, I did not like Christmas.  There, I said it..

I know it's probably almost a sacrilege to say but it's the truth. Holidays, especially Christmas, were not happy memories for me.  All my life I heard other kids getting excited about the upcoming winter break, wondering what wonderful presents they were going to have waiting for them under the tree, what Santa was going to bring them.. But not I.. I couldn't stand the entire concept.

It wasn't that I didn't wish Santa would bring me at least something good. But I knew better. I knew that on Christmas Eve, we would have a huge get together at one of our relatives houses where all the adults would be drinking, I would get to watch all the kids in my family open up really great gifts from all the family and I knew they were all laughing as I opened up whatever underwear or socks (yes, I literally got underwear and socks for Christmas) my stepmom found on sale.  Kind of hard to get too excited watching others around you open presents worth hundreds of dollars when you get a pack of Days of the week panties to open up in front of everyone.

I should mention I was a stepchild who at age 7 was suddenly thrust into a home existing of 4 older kids who didn't want a 5th sibling and a step mother who resented the fact my father had a child she didn't know about.. Prior to this, I didn't know my dad, I didn't know my step mom and I didn't know her kids. I was unwanted and they made sure I knew it.

Christmas Day was even worst.. You'd wake up, creep down to the Christmas tree to see what Santa brought. The tree would have so many presents under it but only one or two would be mine. If I was lucky, I would get the stuffed animal I asked for and one year I got a small radio I really wanted but usually it was watching each of my step siblings open several really expensive gifts while I got something bought on sale with whatever money was left. 

One year, my family even went on a Christmas vacation. I was 12 or 13 and I believe they went to Branson, Missouri. I say I think, because I honestly don't remember as I didn't get to go.. Yup, you heard that right.. I literally stayed alone in our lil 4 bedroom house for 5 nights while they all went off to make their own Christmas memories.  I spent Christmas sitting in a cold garage sharing whatever dinner I had that day with my cat while they were doing whatever it is you do in Branson.. Hey, they at least brought me a T-shirt when they came back..

So, it's probably pretty understandable that I never cared for the holidays when I was growing up.

But then..... I had kids....

Christmas turns into a whole new thing when you become a parent.  All those bad memories are suddenly left behind and you are left with a desire to make each and every Holiday season the best it can be for those lil rugrats you created in the hopes that when they turn 28 they are not in therapy crying because you didn't get them a Playstation 20 with the latest firmware that orders your pizza while you're playing so you don't have to stop your game and call yourself.

It doesn't help that I married a guy who absolutely loves Christmas.. When it comes to all things Santa Claus, sparkling twinkle lights and poinsettias, my husband takes the cake.  One of the many reasons I love my husband so much is because he has this very special childlike excitement when it comes to the holidays that is very contagious.  Between him and my kids, there's no way to avoid or ignore Christmas..  Just the idea of decorating the tree is a huge family ordeal: 

Our finished tree - Christmas 2014

But over the years, Christmas has changed for me.  Where once I couldn't stand the sight of the tree, I now cannot wait til Thanksgiving to be over so we can start decorating it together as a family. We
 shop together picking out Christmas decorations for the yard (although, we are on a very tight budget
so its something that slowly has grown over the years). And I get to reclaim all those memories that I did not get to have, only this time, I get to enjoy them with my children and through their reaction. Watching them hang decorations on the tree (usually all grouped together on one or two branches that
I have to move after they go to bed), having them ask for particular Christmas songs and tv shows, going through the neighborhoods and looking at everyone's Christmas lights and then driving home only to think ours is better.. lol

Each year we try to add more traditions in order to make the season a bit more special. This year, we added "Elf on the Shelf".. Personally, I think they look kinda creepy but the kids have been enjoying finding that lil guy every morning when they wake up and there's something magical listening to my 6 year old try to have a conversation with a 30 dollar piece of plastic (yes, I'm admitting I paid 30 bucks for that thing!!!). Christmas eve, instead of a huge family get together, we'll sit in the living room, make hot chocolate and popcorn, dress up in pajamas and watch "The Polar Express" together.. Then we'll play a game or two together and hopefully by then, the kids will be ready to go to bed... and THAT is when the  real fun begins.

You see, while the presents might get wrapped and go under the tree, they don't stay there.. On Christmas eve our living room gets transformed. We have this huge 8 foot inflatable snowman family that should go out in the front yard. But after moving here to the Mojave, we quickly learned it is way too windy for large inflatable items as they would quickly end up in the Land of Oz.  Not wanting the

inflatable to go to waste, it became a Christmas tradition. The kids go to bed and the snowmen are set up in our living room, all the presents are moved from the Christmas tree to around the inflatable.. It makes for one pretty impressive display on Christmas morning.  There might not always been a large amount of things around those snowmen, and they might not be very expensive items at that, but I bet the smile on my kids faces at just seeing those snowmen on Christmas morning is worth way more than any Ipod or video game system.

Christmas is about memories.. and about Tradition.. and most of all, its about that lil baby in the manger.. When I was growing up, that final part was often forgotten in the equation. Occasionally we would go to the Candlelight Service but it was all show.. Maybe if the reason for the season was remembered, my childhood Christmas's would have been much much different.  For the last few years, my kids got to enjoy the Santa Claus and the reindeer but this year, they're learning about that baby.  And it warms my heart more than can be imagined to sit there and have it all snap for them, to hear one of their favorite Christmas songs and know that the baby is Jesus, or to understand that the star on the top of our tree is to represent the Star of Bethlehem.


  1. Wow I am so sorry you had to go through that growing up. I can totally see why you wouldn't be excited. Your pictures are amazing. Your tree is so beautiful! I am so glad you get to enjoy Christmas now! There is so much about it to enjoy. Your right the real reason for the season comes from the little guy in the manager :)

  2. What a beautiful transformation occurred in your life. It takes courage to share those kinds of memories but I appreciate that you did. Your family has a lovely set of traditions all their own and that is a big part of what the holidays are about - love and family. Your husbands sounds like a really great guy. And you have a gorgeous tree! - Lori


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