This time of year always brings back memories of my childhood and growing older over the years. My family lived in a house on about 26 acres of land in North Texas. The land had numerous cedar trees on it that provided our Christmas tree every year. We would go out into the pasture and find the perfect tree and dad would cut it down and haul it into the house. It was always much bigger in the house and had to be trimmed down quiet a bit to fit the space. By the time he was done there were cedar needles all over the house but it began to smell a little like Christmas. I remember at least once where we took a tree up to my school for our class Christmas Tree. I was so proud that we provided the tree that year!
Decorating the tree was a family affair and we all gathered around and put the ornaments on. Some were handmade by my two sisters and I and some were store bought and several years old. We began the decorating process excitedly but quickly tired of putting on ornaments after placing 10 or so on the tree. The grand finale of decorating was placing the tinsel icicles on the tree. We always had several new boxes of these every year. Each box held about 10,000 strands and it would take you forever to put them on! At the time, they probably cost 29 cents a box or something similar. My sisters and I started out putting them on one strand at a time while delicately placing them on the branches to hang just perfectly. By the end, we were throwing handfuls at a time at the tree and they landed wherever they wanted. My mother would come behind us and thin the bigger deposits and redistribute some of those strands to the empty sections of the tree.
I always remember sitting at the base of the fully decorated and lit tree and staring at all the wrapped presents with so much excitement. I could not wait until Christmas arrived! Our family always opened the wrapped presents on Christmas Eve night. These were presents that were from mom and dad or from one sibling to another. The kids were usually given a small budget to buy the other two a gift or two. Our Christmas Eve dinner usually was chili dogs because we wanted a quick dinner as soon as dad got home from work so we could begin opening presents. I know, chili dogs, really? My mother continued to have chili dog dinners on Christmas Eve for years whenever we gathered to do our family Christmas. And then, on Christmas, Santa came overnight and left more gifts under the tree for us to discover the next morning. Which sometimes was 3am when one of us woke up and bounded down the stairs to see if Santa came. Those were great times!
Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day scheduled served us well over the years as my wife's family always waited until Christmas morning to open all gifts. This allowed us to have Christmas Eve at my family's home with my kids and then have Christmas morning at my wife's family's home. Now that our kids are grown and we have three grandkids we will have Christmas at our home on Christmas Day. I hope my kids and grandkids will have great Christmas memories of these days.
We haven't had a live tree but once or twice in my adult years. We currently have a nice artificial tree in the corner. It sheds needles as much as a live tree when I put it up and take it down. Our tree has ribbon and a variety of decorations. One thing it lacks is tinsel icicles! On our old live cedar trees, we threw out the tree with most tinsel still on it. I can't imagine trying to remove tinsel from our artificial tree every year to pack it away.
What are your Christmas memories of your childhood? What was a favorite gift you got when you were younger? Mine was a BB gun and a bicycle. When do you celebrate Christmas with gifts, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Anyone else out there do chili dogs on Christmas Eve!
Merry Christmas everyone!! Remember the reason for the season and enjoy those family interactions!