This is the time of year when thoughts turn to celebration, as well as warm recollections of good times past, spent with family and friends. In honor of the season, we would like to share with you some of our fondest Christmas memories.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a most wonderful holiday season!
I begged my parents for a pony ever since I could say the word ‘pony’. In December 1994 my dad finally agreed to go ‘pony shopping.’ It was on Christmas Eve that my dad took me to Fletchers Arena to test ride an Appaloosa pony named Apples. It was love at first sight! My dad loaded her up in our horse trailer and said, “She is coming home with us!” Best Christmas EVER! She even had her own Christmas stocking that I hung in the barn 365 days a year for many years!
One Christmas, I asked for Santa’s autograph. Santa responded with a very long letter in my mother’s handwriting about why he just couldn’t leave his autograph. I was really confused because I had all this ‘proof’ of Santa but the letter was unsigned, so it was extremely unfulfilling and I threw the letter away immediately.
One year, when I was a little person (maybe like 3 or 4), I received the most UNBELIEVABLE doll house from my parents. It had all the bells and whistles and plenty of accessories. I thought it was the most fabulous gift in the world and still think about it to this day. In fact, I awkwardly played with it until I was in 8th grade and then realized that once I was a freshman in high school, I probably shouldn’t be still playing with it. I think I will always be a kid at heart though and hope that whatever child has it now, cherishes it as much as I once did.
What I most remember about Christmas when our kids were younger and still believed in Santa was my wife’s insistence that we couldn’t put anything together ahead of time and could only do it between the time when the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve and when they got up Christmas morning. We had a special closet that we could lock and store the gifts to be assembled. Being the least technical person you’ll ever meet, putting together exciting gifts that contained over 7,000 individual pieces (the only kind we bought) was always quite the struggle, but somehow we made it in time and always enjoyed the smiles on the kid’s faces as the gifts were opened!
When I was a little girl, my family spent one Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. I remember standing at the window and actually seeing Rudolph’s glowing nose in the distance. Knowing Santa was really on his way, I couldn’t sleep. My aunts promised that whoever fell asleep first would receive the biggest present. Well, it must have been a tie because the next morning my twin sister and I found two sleds under the tree. Being very little myself, the now old fashioned style wooden sleds complete with runners seemed huge and we knew we had won the contest.
Every Christmas when I was little my Mom would come up with very elaborate schemes to show that Santa Clause was real. I remember one year in particular I had asked her how Santa Clause delivers the Christmas presents since we didn’t have a chimney. She told me that he lands on our long back deck and comes in through the back doors of the house. When I woke up the next morning on Christmas day it had just snowed. Somehow my Mom managed to imprint in the snow the tracks of Santa’s sled and all of the reindeer footprints extending down off the deck and into our driveway, and she did it without showing her own footprints too! I was astonished to find real evidence of Santa’s existence!
I was a little too old for Santa but still pretty young. My parents had a habit of getting us awesome gifts but never, ever, getting us anything we actually asked for. My brother and I were sneaky kids; we’d rummage under the tree, find our presents, and carefully unwrap a part of the wrapping to see what was inside. Finding out what our presents were before Christmas was like a mystical high-stakes game we got better at every year. My parents were in on it, though. They wrapped presents better and more precisely in an attempt to detect tampering. They stacked and arranged them in certain ways that were difficult to replicate. This year was special though — this year they outsmarted us. Presents piled up but they didn’t have anyone’s names on them. They were labeled “Chewbacca,” “Han Solo,” and “Luke Skywalker.” Even the token presents our pets got every year were encrypted. We had no idea what to even attempt to open. When Christmas morning came we were like rabid dogs to find out what our assigned code names were. I was Darth Vader.
My family is just pure chaos, so one year while preparing to go to Christmas Eve church, it came as no shock when my Dad called from my grandparents and said, “Grandpa slipped in the driveway and we are going to the hospital.” Grandma, Mom, my brother, sister and I headed to church without them and as we were all traipsing back into the house after church on that snowy Christmas Eve, poor Grandma fell in the bush. Dad and Grandpa arrived from the emergency room with a cast on Grandpa’s arm just in time to see the paramedics (we called 911) pull an annoyed Grandma from the bush and track shrub and snow all over Mom’s recently cleaned kitchen. Three kids, two grandparents, two parents and four paramedics and a dog running amuck at 8:00 pm at night left my mom with no time to prepare our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. It was that night we ordered in Olive Garden (the only place open) and we still to this day, now order in Italian, in the case that Christmas Chaos (inevitably) breaks out again.
At the risk of ruining the whole “is Santa real” thing for anyone, my favorite Christmas event happened every year when we were kids. The whole extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) would get together at someone’s house every Christmas Eve and my Uncle Ted would make an appearance as Santa Claus (he kinda looked like him anyway…even more so now). Santa would hoist us up on his lap, listen to our pleas for presents and hand out a gift to each of us. One year, I was fixated on his reindeer. I really wanted to see them, if not ride one of them. Santa kept making up excuses, like they’re invisible, or he parked them down the street, but I kept coming up with alternative plans to still see them and yet more questions. Finally, he looked at me and said ‘unless you want to end up on the “naughty” list tomorrow morning, you’ll stop talking now.’ Nuff said.
This happened about 7 years ago at my mom’s house, Christmas Eve. My side of the family goes to my mom’s and the adults exchange presents from a name they drew on or around Thanksgiving. This year my brother Robert drew my brother James’ name. Robert bought James lottery tickets, a lot of them. James wasted no time scratching them off and what a surprise we all had when he went crazy and shouted I won $10,000 dollars!!! Everyone was excited for him and the celebration seemed to have lasted for 5-10 minutes. Then Robert told James to be sure and read the rules of claiming it on the back. On the back in the fine print it lets him know that it was one big joke and you’ve been tricked!!!! The emotional letdown was terrible and hilarious at the same time. I gotta say that there is nothing like brotherly love!!! For the rest of us that thought it was a dirty trick on Christmas Eve, we couldn’t quit laughing at the same time. James did garner a short period of sympathy while Robert was looked upon with distrust and genius at the same time.
It was 1996, I was six years old and my brother was 11. Does anyone remember what made that Christmas awesome? The N64 came out! My parents knowing this was huge gave us a bunch of small and not so exciting presents on Christmas morning, while hiding the N64. We thought the presents were over and we must have been a little naughty that year. Then after everything was cleaned up my mom and dad pulled out one more box. When we opened it we screamed, jumped around and everything you would expect. It was pretty awesome. Just so you know how much I loved that N64, I still have it in my apartment in working condition ready to play Super Smash Brothers whenever I want.
One of my most treasured memories is the Christmas Eve candle-light service my family attended before heading to my uncle’s home for fun and celebration. Through the years my sisters and I would sometimes participate in the service as choir angels, or with a role in the nativity. The service always ended with the congregation sharing a moment of passing a flame, from candle to candle. This quiet time always seemed wondrous to me, a break in the holiday excitement and a peaceful reminder of the hope Christmas brings.