Starting the day after Thanksgiving, my mom would start to put up the Christmas decorations around the house. Garland, lights, Nativity scene, various Christmas quilts. Then, about 2 weeks before Christmas, we would go to Kenai River Nursery and pick out the perfect tree. Of course, we'd never know exactly what it looked like, since it would be wrapped up, but that was part of the surprise! We would wrap it in an old sheet, bring it home and put it in the garage overnight with a 5 gallon bucket of water, after Dad chopped off a few dried inches from the trunk. The next night, we would bring it upstairs, set it up, make sure it was straight and my dad would put the Christmas lights on it.
Mom and Dad would do all of the Christmas shopping months early to avoid going to the stores during this deathly time of year. But, they would still take me and the boys out to shop for the other parent. I loved trying to find the things that would fill the line on my parents' wish list.
A week or so before Christmas, my mom would have a baking storm. We would make candies and peanut brittle and cookies galore! It was always so much fun to deliver cookies to our families and friends. This is one tradition I'm going to be doing this year. I won't be making all of the same cookies or candies that my mom previously made, but I have a list I think will suffice. Maybe I'll post about it a little later.
When I was really young, we used to do THREE Christmases on Christmas day. Eventually everyone started to feel that was hectic and we moved to a two-day system. My mom's side of the family would gather on Christmas Eve. We'd have delicious foods, including my favorite, king crab! We would share presents with each other and overall just enjoy the evening. Our parents would always get us new pajamas.
On Christmas morning, Santa came and filled our stockings as well as leaving us lots and lots of presents under the tree. (I know it's just my mom and dad, but it's more fun to say it was Santa). My brothers and I would always wake up super early! 4:30 or 5:00 am! We weren't ever allowed to wake our parents up. But, we were allowed to open our stockings and all the trinkets that were wrapped inside. I love stockings. Candies and nuts and oranges and soaps and toys, what is not to love? If we were really thinking, we would make a pot of coffee - presents could never be opened until my parents had a cup of coffee and brushed their teeth.
Often, presents were completely opened before the sun rose. My mom would then make something amazing for breakfast - like cinnamon rolls. And we would spend the daytime playing with our new toys and presents. There would be new clothes too.
In the afternoon, we would gather up all of the presents for my dad's side of the family and go to my Grandma Becky's house for a similar ritual as to my mom's side of the family. Presents would be opened and laughter shared. Then we enjoyed dinner and pies.
Oh how I miss my mother's pies. I can bake, but there is something about her food that I absolutely miss. I hope with more and more practice I will learn to love mine more than her's (sorry mom!)
and since I don't have any pictures with me of Christmas, here is a picture from the 2008 Christmas comes to Kenai parade.