“I have lots of great memories of Christmas. I’ll describe what our Christmases were like growing up.
Christmas was always a special and magical time at our house. In November, Dad would hire men to put lights all over the huge pine trees we had in the front yard and on the house. It looked beautiful at night. Like a wonderland.
Our fridge would suddenly have glazed cherries currants and all sorts of good stuff for baking. Mom loved to bake.
When my older sisters and I were younger, we got very excited when Dad brought the tree home. He would always go to a farm a friend of his owned and they would cut down a huge tree and bring it home. We had ten-foot ceilings in our home and the tree would always be about eight or nine feet tall and nice and bushy.
Later, when we were older, Dad would take my older twin sisters Lori and Tracy, and I to the farm and we would trek into the woods just like on Christmas Vacation and hunt for our tree. Dad didn’t forget the ax though. After we found the perfect tree, we would cut it down and Dad’s friend would help us get it in the truck. We would then have a bonfire and roast wieners for hot dogs. We did this every year into our high teens.
I remember when we were teenagers helping decorate the tree. Mom would always want us to hang the decorations we made when we were younger at school.
‘Mine is so lame,’ Tracy would say, ‘A cat holding a tree branch? What was I thinking?’
‘So, look at mine, a moon,’ I said holding up a shiny half-moon. ‘More like Halloween,’ I muttered.
They were all funny decorations from when we were kids. Tracy, when she was little, always wanted Dad to lift her high up to the top so she could put the star or angel on top. In her teens, she would joke, ‘Okay Dad. Lift me up.’
Of course, Dad would have Christmas songs playing on the stereo.
For shopping when little, Mom would give us each some money and take us to a shopping center where we would have fun shopping. When we were older, the girls and I would go together and shop. After shopping, we would go to a restaurant and have a bite to eat and a coffee together. We always enjoyed being together.
Mom, who loved to put on big Christmas parties for friends would have the house cleaners come in and make the house spotless. We had a very big house and though Mom didn’t mind the normal house cleaning, once a month she would have the cleaning ladies come in. We knew them well and they were like part of the family. Everything would be dusted, some furniture moved around and floors waxed and polished. Of course, Tracy, Lori, and I would have to clean our own rooms.
Grandma and Grandpa would leave the ranch, where they raised horses, and fly down and stay with us. They stayed in one of the spare bedrooms. It was always fun having them over. I have written a story earlier about my grandparents’ ranch and how much my sisters and I loved to stay there for a week or two in the summer
We all always went to our cabin to spend a week there before Christmas; another fun tradition we looked forward to. We’d have roaring fires, play games, go skiing, ice fishing, sledding, and skating. It was great together time. At night, the girls and I would dress up warm, go out into the back yard and watch the brilliant stars in the night sky.
Dad owned car dealerships and each year he would put on a Christmas party for his employees and families. Dad, who knew them all very well, would shop and buy all the gifts. He would rent a hall and have a huge Christmas party for everyone who worked for him. Santa would visit and give out gifts to all the kids. When older and in our teens, my sisters and I would be the elves. Everyone knew us from Dad’s TV commercials my sisters and I were always in since we were young. When little, we enjoyed the party with all the other kids. It was a lot of fun. Dad would give each family a Christmas turkey just as he did on Thanksgiving. He looked after his employees.
When Lori and Tracy, after retiring from their modeling careers, took over the dealerships after dad retired, they carried on the traditions. Dad and the girls always looked after their employees.
Christmas Eve, mom and dad would have a big party with friends over, and we would have fun playing with their kids. Mom and Dad were both only children so we had no cousins. My sisters and I did have each other and we grew up best of friends. Santa would visit on Christmas Eve and bring everybody a gift. Part of Mom’s Christmas shopping would be to buy all the Christmas Eve gifts for everybody too. But she loved it. A true Mrs. Clause.
After the party and the guests had gone, it was tradition for all of us to sit in the living room while dad read A Night Before Christmas. Later, in our teens, my older sisters and I would make funny Christmas home movies and show them to mom and dad who always enjoyed them; I think.
Ever since they were little, the twins would wake up first Christmas morning. Even in their high teens they would run and jump in my double bed and wake me up. We would talk excitedly about the morning, the day together and mom’s great Christmas supper. This was a tradition with us and we did this every year.
‘Daddy, can we get up now?’ one of the girls would ask every half hour.
‘Go and get one gift, get back into bed, and open it there. It’s only 6:00 guys.’ We would scamper downstairs, see all the magical gifts, grab one gift each and run back in my bed to open it and now, we would be even more excited. I remember one year Lori grabbed one of dad’s gifts by mistake and had to go back down to swap it for one of hers.
Only when mom and dad and grandpa and grandma went downstairs to put the Christmas carols on, turn on the tree lights and make their coffees would we be allowed downstairs.
We would dash down and into the living room. The gifts seemed to stretch across the living room. Wow. Mom and dad would only put gifts under the tree from friends that brought them. Santa’s and our parents’ gifts for us would be brought down at night after we were in bed and our stockings hanging on the fireplace filled. Before that though, the gifts had to be locked in the utility room because Lori would rip some of the paper off to see what her gifts were. She was a real snooper.
Each year, one of us would be Santa and put on the Santa cap and hand out the gifts. Santa would hand gifts to each person including him or herself and we would then open our gifts. After everyone had opened their gifts, Santa would hand out more gifts to each of us and we would open them. This way, it slowed down Christmas morning instead of everyone grabbing a gift, tearing it open, and grabbing another one to end it all too quickly.
After we opened our gifts, we would remember there were still our stockings, and my sisters and I would go through our stockings and find all kinds of little treasures. Lori, Tracy, and I would always set up the new board game we received for Christmas and play it.
When children, Dad would read the funny letter Santa had left us by the empty plate and glass. It thrilled us that Santa ate the cookies and milk and even more so when we listened to the letter dad read from Santa. He even knew our names. Wow. I remember Tracy once saying to Dad, “Daddy, if Santa ate cookies and drank milk at every house he went to, wouldn’t he barf after? He must get awful sick.”
The big Christmas dinner was always looked forward to and Tracy and Lori always wanted to sit by grandpa. Mom’s turkeys never ended up like the one in the Chevy Chase movie Christmas Vacation.
Our favorite times together were in the evening sitting in front of the big living room window and gazing at the giant lit-up pine trees and snow on the ground colored by the lights. It would just look so magical. We loved Christmas though it came and went far too quickly.
I kept the same traditions with my own family and the boys have fond memories themselves.