Christmas in the mountains of southwest Virginia with my family and friends!
hugging my mom, in her old faded pink gown, as she’s putting the monkey bread in the oven after all the presents are open, wrapping and bows scattered across the living room and piled up so high you can’t even see the floor.
rising at 2am on Christmas morning to wake up my brothers, so we can all see what Santa and Mrs. Clause stuffed in our stockings that hang on the mantel in the kitchen.
icing my ginger bread cookies, as mom cooks in the kitchen, with wacky, weird designs because I’m no artist! But hey, it’s what’s underneath that matters! And just spending that time with her.
shopping on Christmas Eve, begrudgingly, because dad haaaaaaas to wait last minute to get mom a gift. I guess I secretly like it though…way, deep down.
the Christmas Story playing back to back to back to back to – you get the picture – on tv as we wind down in the living room together after a fulfilling and tasty breakfast.
making peanut butter balls, turtles, haystacks, chocolate-covered orange slices and the good kind of chicken salad at my aunt Bonnie’s house.
all my aunts and uncles and cousins on my dad’s side gathering at my grandma and grandpa’s house on Christmas Day and enjoying a cup (or two) or my great-grandmother’s custard recipe. Which some say is disgusting… but I LOVE it.
scattegories at the dinner table with wine slushies, crackers, dip and cheese spreads, and my dad trying to convince the rest of us that Bouncing Boy and Shrinking Violet are indeed super heroes (and us normally vetoing him).
the Polar Express and the hot chocolate song, minimum three times! It’s my mom’s favorite. And mine.
red Lobster for lunch on Black Friday with my aunts and cousins on my mom’s side after a couple of exhausting hours of shopping and battling the crowds for those perfect gifts!
aunt DD making EVERYONE (even the grumpy old men) sing Twelve Days of Christmas at our family’s Christmas party.
decorating the Christmas tree with handmade or store-bought ornaments that represent our family along side my mom and brothers while my dad sits out, saying his part (to get the tree cut and in the house) is done.
indulging in a delicious homemade Christmas meal that includes everyone’s favorites – beef tenderloin, shrimp, green beans, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls, Watergate salad – and more! All set out on the table with the special occasion dishes and glasses and real candles burning in the center.
the annual Christmas tree trimming party at work! Every year we have a little gathering with pizza and drinks, and we decorate the lobby! Stockings are hung on the stair railing with care, and we each place an ornament on the tree – to have a little piece of home here with us.
incessantly annoying my brothers, and vice versa, because it’s really the one time of year we are all together, and hey, we have to make up for lost time!
opening one gift and scratching a couple of lottery tickets on Christmas Eve. And just for the record, I never win anything, but my brother always manages to score a couple of dollars. Naturally.
nuts sitting on the kitchen counter in a little wooden bowl with a pair nutcrackers beside them. My mom does this ever year because her mom did it, and every year, I crack one open, eat it, and wonder why in the world I do it. Because I never like them.
searching far and wide, up and down numerous hills for the tallest, fattest, most perfect Christmas tree (normally at the back of the local Christmas tree farm), having dad cut it down, and then him making me and my brother drag it all the way back to the car.
They are great, don’t get me wrong. I mean, I just wrote a whole blog about them! But, with all that being said, they’re not everything.
Christmas won’t be ruined if something is different, whether you skip a tradition or add a new one. It happens! That’s life! Especially when your family and group of friends continues to change. Because when you look at the root of these traditions – they’re really all about family and friends. And THAT’S what really makes the holiday season special.