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Christmas Memories

The Holiday Season is a time of sharing so we thought we would share some of our Christmas memories.

Julia: My grandparents had a small pine tree that was planted in a pot outside. This was brought in and decorated at Christmas time. For whatever reason this was my favorite Christmas tree growing up. But I also liked the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, so there may be a correlation. 

For a period of time, I loved Christmas ornaments that were different themes and my grandmother being a traveler would bring me ornaments from different countries. I have hand painted ornaments, straw donkeys, hand sewn dolls, camels, and too many different kinds from all over the world. Though I have downsized to a small artificial tree that we don’t decorate, I’ve kept the ornaments she bought me. I always get a giggle when I break out the Christmas box and look at the ornament she collected for me. Some are just sooo… weird.

Julia’s outdoor decorations in a previous year.

I thought I decorated for my kids. I have learned recently, no, it’s for me. When the pandemic put a kibosh on our Christmas travels, my decorating reached a new level (keep in mind my kids are grown). 2020 my Halloween skeletons saw a lot of daylight. They started with summer beach wear, Halloween Day of the Dead, dressed as turkeys, and ended 2020 as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The weather this fall is nice here in SLC and I found myself putting up Christmas decorations outside shortly after halloween. I am pretty sure by this Christmas I will be that “Griswold” house!

Chelle: As a kid, I loved Christmas so much I could barely sleep on Christmas Eve. This at 5 years old, my poor parents! My dad had to get up on the roof, stomp around and say, “Ho ho ho, these kids aren’t asleep yet. I guess I’ll have to come back later.” After Christmas, he got up on the roof and started cussing out the fat old man for all the reindeer poop he had to clean off. (He was cleaning leaves from the gutters.)

Chelle, 12 years old.

Finding out Santa didn’t exist later did not curb my enthusiasm. I’d be up at 2:00 AM running from my room to the Christmas tree trying not to make noise. The Christmas tree was magical in the wee hours of the morning, especially with all the gifts under it. When I could not contain myself any longer, I would wake my parents and sister up around 5:00 AM. They finally laid down a 6:00 AM rule for Christmas.

As a parent of small children, I had just as much fun and still didn’t sleep well on Christmas Eve. I often woke my kids up on Christmas mornings. As they turned into teenagers it got harder to buy for them and at some point I just quit trying. I’d get them two or three gifts and we’d go somewhere instead. Sometimes it was Disneyland in January/February, or Magic Mountain. That worked a lot better for us. Going places and making memories was a great fit for all of us. 

Michele: Decorating the Christmas tree was a big deal. I loved when it was time to decorate, going through the various boxes of ornaments to find my favorites to hang on the tree. We also helped my aunt’s family decorate their tree—their bubble lights were mesmerizing.

One of the best things about Christmas was the food. My mom baked cookies and made fudge in the days leading up to Christmas. Waking up Christmas morning to the smells wafting from the kitchen was heavenly. I still carry on that tradition and get up very early to start making pies and cook throughout the day. It reminds me of my mom and grandma.

Michele’s husband and kids at the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

As parents, my husband and I always tried to make our kid’s Christmas as magical as possible. Getting together with my sister’s family and having all seven of our kids together was always great fun, though never frequent enough. As our kids got older, we began to transition to less gift giving and more experience sharing. In 1999, our oldest son’s senior year of high school, we took a Christmas trip to Germany. We flew (making good use of our employee passes) into Hamburg on Christmas Day and made our way to Munich for the return trip over a week later, visiting Christmas markets and castles in every city along the way.

Christmas 2011: Our family on the frozen lake by our house.

Last, but not least, SNOW! It is always a plus in our family to have a White Christmas. Since living in northern Minnesota we are never disappointed!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday! We wish you joy as you gather with friends and family to make new memories together, and a New Year that brings good things to you.

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