By Becky Holland
December used to excite me as a child. It meant time to see the red and green lights, decorate the tree, put out the family Bible and Nativity set, give Mom our Christmas lists, get ready for Christmas parties at school and church and lastly, for family visitors.
My cousins, sister and I were notorious for snooping at Christmas. We would try to find out where our presents were and what they were before Christmas. I think our parents enjoyed playing the game with us. They would hide our stuff or wrap it so we wouldn’t be able to find it.
I won’t ever forget the first year we moved to Georgia. I was in fourth grade. My sister, Tracey, was in ninth grade. Our cousins, John and Kevin were there. Our parents were in the living area. We four were in the bedroom sleeping on beds and sleeping bags.
John, Kevin, Tracey and I all decided we were going to try to sneak in and get a look at what was going on. It was Christmas Eve.
Being the youngest, and the one who giggled at everything, I was put in the back of the line. All four of us were on our hands and knees, slowly creeping out the door.
Not sure what the general result was except there was some flatulence involved, our dog got involved and we all burst into laughter and scurried back into the room.
No one got to see what was under the tree. We kept looking, waiting for our parents to go to bed, but that wasn’t happening. It was almost like my dad or my uncle were playing sentry.
As we got older and went our separate ways, the sneak attacks on the Christmas presents quit happening as much. When it was just me, Mom would wrap them and give me the “Momma Stink Eye.” That look would turn a raging bull into a big ole’ baby.
Other Christmas traditions I remember include the placing of the nativity scene, watching Christmas movies – White Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and the original Grinch Who Stole Christmas; cookies, pies, pretzels, fruit and Taco Soup; Grandma’s molasses cookies; going to look at Christmas lights and Christmas Eve services at church.
When I got on my own, I started my own little traditions. I started boiling and coloring eggs at Christmas (and Thanksgiving, July 4, Easter, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Labor Day). On Christmas Eve, depending on where I lived, I have Christmas sushi or turkey hot dogs and Taco Soup. My dog always gets a special meal.
For gifts, I get a book every Christmas Eve, and hot chocolate. The dog always gets a a toy or some sort.
This year has been a little different – finances, time, distance, environment. The celebration for us has been simple, less materialistic and more focused on other things.
And I have to say 97 percent of me likes it that way, while the other three percent dreams of being at ‘home’ for the holidays.
Then I thought about, the first Christmas was pretty simple and out of this world at the same time, wasn’t it?