Holiday traditions are a wonderful way to bring the past alive and give so much to future generations. When we marry or enter a new season of life, sometimes those old traditions get a little lost along the way. I love hearing about my parents’ memories of their childhood Christmases. Even though their families had little to give, the small gifts they did receive were very special to them, but the traditions are what they remember most!
Do You Know What’s Special to Those You Love?
Both my parents had similar Christmases and Thanksgivings. Over the years I’ve asked many times what they remember about the celebrations when they were young. Both remember getting a big orange and a handful of nuts in their stocking and the fun of having relatives come over and eat a turkey that came straight from the woods. Daddy once got a pocket knife and mama once got a doll. They have trouble remembering more than these, but they do remember the pies, the homemade breads and the sweet potatoes.
While I’ve asked my parents about their traditions, I sometimes forget to ask my children what they remember best about holiday traditions. This year I’m making a point of finding out what they loved about both the big holidays. I could ask the grandkids too and hope they mention something besides getting presents!
My Favorite Memories
I was born and raised in the Sacramento Valley, so snow is not a part of any of my holiday memories. What I do remember and love to think back on is how I always left cookies and milk out for Santa and hung up my stocking on Christmas Eve. Daddy always read me the Christmas story from the Bible. I was allowed to open just one gift before I went to bed on Christmas Eve. It was so hard to get to sleep, but I dared not move an inch because I knew Santa sent his elves in to make sure I was asleep.
Up at the Crack of Dawn
I’m not sure you can call it a tradition, but my kids were just like me. Come Christmas morning, we all were up at the crack of dawn and were pretty much tired for the rest of the day. My kids knew they had to wait until their daddy and I got up before opening presents, but they could rifle through their stocking and usually Santa left their big gifts unwrapped for them.
I’m very thankful that my parents like to eat early in the day — around one o’clock. It gives us plenty of time to get in a snooze!
The Food — Especially the Stuffing!
Making the wrong stuffing can be deadly in my family. It must have lots of cornbread and chopped up giblets in it. We fight over the stuffing that’s in the bird. It just doesn’t get better than that moist flavorful stuffing.
How do your people make stuffing? Do they put apples or chestnuts in it? Do they make it with white bread, or sourdough or cornbread? I’ve even hear of people putting shellfish in their stuffing. I think each family’s stuffing says a lot about where they were raised.
Side Dish Memories
For me, the most cherished memories are those small moments when over the years I took time to look around and really see the faces of my loved ones. I see mama in the kitchen with an old apron on — always busy cooking and managing what goes in the oven and when. I see the faces of my children when they were yet small — how excited they were on Christmas morning when they got the gift of their dreams. I see daddy sitting at the front door just waiting on us to come over. I see my parents’ house with holiday lights glowing in the Sacramento Valley fog. It’s the only hushed moment I experience on Christmas, but the anticipation of all the fun we will have seems to wrap me up in warmth each and every year. I am so thankful to have them still with me and mine. No present could be better than that.