Friday, December 19, 2014

DEJA VU BLOGFEST 2014



Choosing my re-post for DL Hammons and Nicole Zoltack DeJa Vu blogfest was a difficult one, although it should have been easy given the time of year. I chose my last year's holiday traditions post from the old deleted blog. I cleaned it up a little and shortened it, made it a little less depressing, hopefully . . .

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was an all day food affair that had its start several days prior. The turkey was thawed (purchased anywhere from one year to three months prior), prepped and refrigerated; stuffing ingredients collected; pies, cookies and candies baked at least two days before. And we always ate dinner by noon on Thanksgiving. I never liked eating such a big meal that early, but we had buffet food all day long, and the day after too.

Christmas season started on the Saturday following Thanksgiving every year. The tree was placed in the usual spot before the living room window; the decorations were hung in all the same places and designs every year; the same routine was followed for church and the annual mad purchasing trip to the mall to spend our allotted Christmas allowance (and collected allowances for those of us willing to save all year) on gifts for family members – mom, dad, siblings, grandparents.

Packages started arriving under the tree within a week after its installment, but of course us kids already knew what they all were. We’d started looking for hidden gifts in July - my parents started buying next year’s Christmas shortly after New Years, and by Halloween we’d already discovered all the surprises to come. Sometimes a gift went to someone other than anticipated; and there was the occasional unknown purchases in the week before, but there was rarely a surprise gift under the tree
for us to unwrap.

We unwrapped our gifts about 8pm on Christmas Eve, including the overstuffed stockings, so I never really had a belief in Santa Claus.

Although my upbringing was Southern Baptist, I've rarely entered a church during my adulthood, and
my husband's were not associated with a specific doctrine. We raised our children perpetuating the Santa myth. Neither of us could stand to look at the empty Christmas Tree all month (the tree was assembled and decorated the first Saturday after Thanksgiving) so we had presents under the tree all month. But stockings were always filled about midnight Christmas Eve (when we were sure all kids were finally soundly asleep), and the last gifts were put under the tree and labeled from Santa.

The Santa gift to each child was the most expensive, never wrapped, and usually the gift the children wanted the most, and purchased last minute to avoid the kid’s inquisitive adventures. There were also “family” gifts such as video games, music CDs, and other electronics all the kids (and parents) would share. When I divorced, the gift was often something we collaborated on and mutually paid for. Or something I purchased for the absent dad who forgot to buy for a child he no longer lived with.

But the stockings had a tradition of their own. It held the usual candy, a funky dollar tree puzzle game or slinky, and a wind up toy. As the kids grew to teens, there was always gift cards for movies and fast food, a tooth brush (seemed a good time to replace those), and some form of jewelry - even for the boys. The first year I did not hang stockings for my adult children who had moved out they all complained about the lack of a tooth brush and missed the Christmas morning wind up toy races. The races are a tradition from my first husband’s family, and so I also miss the early morning activity as it distances me from that coveted connection.

My daughter is the only one with a family of her own, and it pleases me that she is carrying on a lot of
the holiday traditions she grew up with, but also making her own traditions – influenced by her and her husband’s upbringing – and passing along something unique and special to future generations.

Tis the season for celebrating Family traditions. Where ever YOU are in the world, I hope you are thinking of your distant family and friends, remembering your past traditions, and forging new traditions for the future.

Happy Holidays everyone, however you celebrate the end of year.

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great you continued with the stockings. My wife and I still do stockings for each other, and there are always treats, fun items, and gift cards. And an orange. There has to be an orange. (We both received oranges in our stockings as kids - what are the odds?)

Laurel Garver said...

Wow, your parents were amazing planners, shopping all year long. I think my MIL does that too. It seems to take some of the fun out of it for me. For me, gift shopping is part of the exciting joy of the holiday.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna .. that's wonderful .. we were at school, so home Christmas only started when we got back .. though way back I do remember writing letters to FC and posting them up the smoke in the fire in the fireplace - no doubt they burnt at the turn in the chimney ...

I do have many memories of days gone by .. and traditions are kept up - though we don't have children ..

Have a great Christmas and New Year .. Hilary

Lexa Cain said...

Sometimes traditions are wonderful and let you feel some things never change, which in this world of rather frighteningly speedy changes, is a good thing. :)

Pat Hatt said...

We have a tradition that my grandmother does, she fills a 6 foot sock for us haha always fun to go in there

dolorah said...

Alex: that's cool you both had oranges. Hmm, gives me another idea :)

Laurel: I like the last minute thing too.

Hilary: well, perhaps Father Christmas still got the letters in the form of ashes.

Lexa: totally agree some things need to remain the same.

Pat: 6 foot stocking? Wow, what fun.

DEZMOND said...

such a lovely story! Sadly, I don't have a family and we never celebrated Christmas in a special way when I was a kid.

DL Hammons said...

Traditions can be grounding...but they can also become a trap as well. Thankfully our family has learned how to keep what works (and is enjoyed by all) and discard that which becomes more of a burden or chore.

Christmas is a special time of year for our family...as it is yours.

Thank you for re-sharing this today! :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Just this year my daughter was asking about some of the Christmas music we listened to when she was growing up. She wanted to be able to share that with her children. I love that. Merry Christmas!

angelsbark said...

Great post! Oh, how I miss the family traditions of the holidays. Now we are all spread out all over the country and my folks don't travel anymore, my brother has his own extended family with his wife and I can't ever get away because the holidays are the busiest time for my business so I have to stay home. How I miss the tradition of our salmon patty Christmas Eve dinner, the excitement of opening gifts on Christmas morning in our pajamas and saving the best for last: the Stocking! Because that's where the big money was stashed! Thanks for sharing some of your traditions. My heart is just all a-tingle now! :) Happy Deja Vu and Merry Christmas!
michele at Angels Bark

Connie Keller said...

Love the photo of your granddaughter. So precious!

Merry Christmas!

dolorah said...

Dezzy: never too late to start your own traditions with friends that are as close as family. I send you hugs and merriment.

DL: thanks for hosting today :) Have a Merry Christmas.

Donna: I'm sure that pleased you also she had good memories of your family traditions.

Angel: We so miss the past sometimes. New traditions can also be a pleasure.

Connie: Thanks for stopping by :)

Chris Fries said...

Great post, Donna! Thanks for reviving it -- I enjoyed reading it.

Traditions can help us connect to our past and to family long gone, but it can also become forced. If it has no meaning and no-one enjoys it, why continue it? There is nothing wrong with letting traditions evolve, or establishing entirely new ones.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

And "Happy Deja Vu" too!

LD Masterson said...

Some traditions get harder to keep as the kids get older and have kids of their own but everyone - all generation, and the dog - has a stocking hanging fro our mantel.

Merry Christmas.

D.G. Hudson said...

We did the stocking on Christmas Eve as well, and continued them long after the kids were older. I had handmade them all and embroidered the names of each person. About two years ago we stopped that. It was one of the traditions I began so the kids could form their own memories, like new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and opening rellies gifts on Christmas Eve. Hubs and I had to meld our traditions. Hope your Christmas holidays are great, Donna, and best wishes for 2015!

Ted Cross said...

I always remember the advent calendar my mom insisted on each year, and she did stockings the way you do it, too. And the music! That was my favorite part of Christmas. It was usually the Carpenters and John Denver and the Muppets albums.

Elizabeth Hein said...

Most of our Christmas traditions revolve around food. I always make the traditional Italian meal of 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, we make piles of Christmas cookies, and my husband always makes his Christmas chocolate bark.

Sherry Ellis said...

Christmas traditions are what make for great memories! Happy Holidays to you!

Arlee Bird said...

When I was younger we always did the Thanksgiving dinner early--not a noon, but by 1 or 2 PM. Almost as good as the dinner itself was the evening sandwich of turkey on white bread with mayonnaise and sweet pickle. Warmed up dressing the next day was always pretty good too.

I miss those family times with my parents and sibs. These days it's a lot of improvising by my wife and I depending on where we are and whom we are with.

Enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Rebecca Douglass said...

Thanks for sharing with the Deja Vu hop (I'm still working my way through the list)! We all have our own holiday traditions, but those traditions give the holidays meaning. We've never given up stockings for all, despite having a whole family of adults. This year felt a little odd--it's the first year we didn't get our boys a giant Lego set as a shared gift. With the oldest leaving home in a few months, it just didn't seem right...

ebecca at The Ninja Librarian

Suzanne Sapsed said...

We never really had many traditions. Midnight mass and grans on Boxing Day was about it. With the boys we've introduced a couple. Everyone has a small stocking every year with odds and sods - and they actually enjoy that more than their main present! They also love to see which stocking they get as we vary it every year. The stockings are from Santa and appear magically by the tree Christmas Eve! (the youngest is 16). We also attend a service and visit the crematorium. But we've always tried not to make it regimented as we didn't want them to feel conflicted with their traditions if/when they have partners :) x

Michelle Wallace said...

I'm rather late (13 days late? Crikey!) in getting around to the bloghop participants. I've been soooo busy...
Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!
Happy New Year to you and your family, Dolorah!