Monday, December 22, 2014

A Walk Down Memory Lane - Christmas Version

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  The music, the decorations, the food...they all bring such joy to my heart.  I think the reason I love Christmas so much is because of the happy Christmas memories I have from my childhood.  Every year, my parents would take me and my sisters to my grandparents' house about 45 minutes away.  As a child, I thought I had the coolest parents around who would allow us to spend a whole week with our grandparents!  Now that I am an adult and parent, I know I had had the coolest and smartest parents in the world!  A whole week of kid-free Christmas shopping and preparations...WHAT?? Way to go mom and dad!

The stocking were hung...
During this week, my sisters and I took care of decorating my grandparents' Christmas tree and did a little Christmas shopping of our own with our granddady.  He was the big shopper in our family.  Our shopping list almost always included Jean Nate bath splash for our mom (this was way before the fancy stores like Bath and Body Works) and maybe a pocket knife or wallet for my dad.  Of course, our granddad would always throw in a treat (or ten) for his girls.  If we were really good, he would take us to the Daytona Beach Mall and let us ride up and down the escalators.  Did we have an exciting childhood or what?!

Christmas in Florida was rarely cold, so we could enjoy running around in shorts and t-shirts as we drank hot chocolate and looked at lights.  Speaking of lights, another tradition we enjoyed was loading up in our grandparents mini-van and driving to Ormond Beach to visit one of the biggest light displays in that area.  This family went over the top with their light display, and we loved it!

Opening presents with my mom.  I seem a little confused by the football.
Our grandparents were not content with sitting around being retired, so they were involved in many things and we were often involved right along with them.  I remember playing piano and singing at the senior center.  We almost always had extra visitors at our Christmas dinner table.

Our grandmama wasn't the best cook, but she hid it well.  She had perfected a few meals which just happened to be our favorites!  We could always count on having roast beef, rice-a-roni, green beans and cornbread at least once during our visit.

When Christmas Eve came around, we would get dressed up and attend a Christmas Eve party thrown by some friends and then usually go to the candlelight service at church.  Sometime after the service, our parents would pull into town like Santa's sleigh filled with home-baked goodies and gifts.  We'd always open one gift that night and then off to bed.  My sisters and I would all squeeze into one bed upstairs, discuss the possibilities that the nearby radio tower was Rudolph's nose, and sometimes drift off to sleep while harmonizing to the tune of "Silent Night".

For several years, our granddaddy dressed up like Santa.  My mom still has his old costume.
Needless to say, over the years, our traditions have changed.  I remember those initial changes very well...the first Christmas after my grandfather died...the first Christmas my older sister stayed in North Carolina.  Now, my family is spread out between three different states and two countries.  Our traditions continue to change.  This year, we also said goodbye to our wonderful grandmother.  She passed away a couple weeks ago surround by family and lots of love. 

I've learned over the years that tradition isn't just doing the same thing every year.  It is about loving the same people and celebrating the same timeless message of God's love sent down to earth.  No matter where we live or where we find ourselves celebrating the holidays, those are the traditions to which we will hold tightly. 

1 comment:

wskwa said...

Merry Christmas, Toler family. We love you!