- Mom always makes (or buys, if the season is particularly busy) pajamas for the kids. She also gets us Christmas dresses that we all wear the Sunday before Christmas.
- Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from the Bible. I also like reading the Christmas story as told in 3 Nephi, when the Nephites saw the star in the sky as a sign of the Savior's birth.
- The following movies are watched annually in December: Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year, we're adding the movie Scrooge to the list.
- For most of my childhood, Christmas has been spent in Provo, Utah. We've broken that tradition a few times, like when Grandma and Grandpa were on a mission, or the last Christmas spent in Grandma Doro's house, or when I came home for the holidays last year. But most of the time, it's in Provo. Christmas Day is the day when all the extended family comes to Grandma's house and eats a big meal.
- Santa does not wrap our gifts. He lays them out on the couches, all in neat displays for each child. I think this saves him a lot of wrapping expenses and it keeps Christmas from being too wasteful.
- Santa also puts candy canes up on the Christmas tree.
- Pomegranites have always been my favorite Christmas food. We also get chocolate-covered cherries, oranges in our stockings -- both of fruit and Terry's chocolate varieties --, a toothbrush, underwear, and a DVD of some sort. That DVD is usually watched sometime on Christmas Day.
- Christmas Day is not a day of custom for our family. Just a day of food preparation and chillaxing on the couch, enjoying the day off. Usually I end up wearing either my pajamas all day or the new clothes I just got from Santa.
- When opening presents from each other, we always go oldest to youngest.
- One of the benefits of having divorced grandparents on one side means that we have two Christmas Celebrations in Minnesota. One with Grandpa Harlan and our Jordan Johnson cousins, and one just with the immediate family and Grandma Doro. I missed both of those celebrations this year, but I still get the presents tomorrow on Christmas Day.
- Mom only likes real Christmas trees. She also likes her country hearth-and-home ornaments with a twinge of rustic farm feel to them. This means checkered bows, wooden nativity ornaments, and no tinsel. A very nice-looking glass star is put on the top of the tree.
- Mom is a crafty type, and she's made about six different advent calendars that are spread throughout the house. My favorite one was always the tree with beads that you pulled from one side to the other as each day passed. She's also recently made one that consists of 25 nativity pieces that you put up one by one in a manger scene. The last one is always the Christ Child.
- Mom has a very distinct Christmas decorating pattern. The living room has all the nativities, as well as the Christmas tree. The family room is chock-full of Santas, and the front entryway has the snowmen. She hangs up Christmas cards that we get from others on these cool ribbon holders she made a few years back. We put garlands up the staircase banister, sometimes with ribbons, sometimes with beads, sometimes with both. Lights outside the house have always been white in the past, but recently she's let color sneak in around the doorway. Candle lights are put in each window.
- My step-grandma Mary always invites us kids over to make candy houses at her place. In the past, they've always been these cardboard houses that we then decorate. Our friend Blaire has always come with us.
- We always visit the Macy's/Dayton's/Marshall Field's Christmas display in downtown Minneapolis. Each year they dedicate an entire floor of their complex to creating a magical storybook world you walk through. I remember seeing the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Christmas Carol, the Nutcracker, the Grinch, Mary Poppins, Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Harry Potter... I could go on.
- Up until our eighteenth birthdays, Grandma Doro gives her grandchildren two-dollar bills. One for every year they have lived.
- Grandma Gardner always gives us these special metal ornaments with our names etched onto them.
- If it snows, which it usually does in MN, we make a snowman with the classic coal eyes, carrot nose, scarf, buttons, the whole shebang. It usually doesn't last very long, though. It either gets knocked down by other neighborhood kids or falls apart because Minnesota weather is bipolar and it gets super warm super fast at random intervals during the holiday season. (The cold sets in for good somewhere in January.)
- Music we listen to during Christmas season: Manheim Steamroller, Kurt Bestor, Bing Crosby, and this one CD from Recksburg College that my mom just won't get rid of with all of these super country-sounding Chrirstmas ditties on it.
- Dad and I are considered the Grinches of the house because we are never awake as early as the rest of the family on Christmas morning. It has become an unwritten rule that the two younger siblings as well as my mother need to pry us out of bed to get our rears downstairs.
- We always take this picture of us on the staircase (or on the couch in the family room, if we're in Utah) right before we go in to see our Christmas booty. I always look terrible, with bedhead and no makeup and this dazed, just-got-forced-out-of-bed expression on my face. Mom also uses the video camera on us as we go in and see the boons for the first time.
- We try to go carolling every year. I remember last year, Dad got ticketed for running a stop sign. To top it off, he didn't have his driver's license with him, either. Still a good service experience, though.
- Every year our Ward puts on a Christmas party. The biggest thing I can remember about those is the live nativity scene that is put on by the couple with the youngest baby in the ward. There's also usually a live santa as well.
- Seminary, we have a white elephant gift exchange or a Secret Santa.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Because I'm around so many different people nowadays, I'm learning a lot of new ways to celebrate the season of giving. So I thought I'd just record -- for posterity's sake -- a few Christmas traditions I've had in my house while growing up.