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  • My Christmases are now quiet and easy, and I thoroughly enjoy them, and yet, I have such fond memories of the Christmases of my childhood. There are so many things about Christmas that I have always loved. The feelings, the energy of the season, and of course, the food.

    Growing up, we had a routine, our gatherings could be depended upon. Christmas Eve meant dinner at Grandma’s (Dad’s Mom) with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. There would be ham, parsley potatoes, peanut butter fudge and plum pudding (which I am only beginning to understand since moving to the UK). If I asked, Grandma usually had a block of chocolate, too, and she would gladly chop off some pieces for me. After dinner, which the grownups seemed to take forever to finish, there were presents and pictures taken by the Christmas tree. If he wasn’t at the table for dinner, Grandpa was in his chair. A recliner, kind of ordinary chair, that sat in the back corner of the house. And in another chair, just taking the hustle and bustle of us all in, was Great Grandma. I don’t remember ever leaving unsatisfied in any way.

    For a few years, Grandma put personalized ornaments on the tree for us, as well, one for each of us to take with us. I remember looking all over the tree to find mine! I still have a pearly-gold bell with my name on it. Sometimes they had our school pictures on them. I let Mom keep those ones.

    Christmas morning was presents at home, with just Mom, Dad, my sister, my brother and me. There were always Santa presents and the best ones I remember were the year my sister and I each got kid sized rocking chairs and a crocheted doll blanket. I remember discussing the crafting skills of Mr and Mrs Santa Claus. We could dump out the goodies from our stockings when we got up, but we were not allowed to open any presents until everyone was awake. I remember, of course, the year when my sister decided to sleep in. She wasn’t even a teenager! What torture for my brother and I as we stood over her willing her to wake up! Somehow the moment always arrived to open presents and delight and pose for pictures.

    Mid-morning on Christmas, after Grandpa and my Uncle (and others) finished the farm chores, my Mom’s side of the family all gathered at that Grandma’s house for Christmas Brunch. Scrambled eggs, fruit salad, ham, breakfast casserole, and cinnamon rolls, some with raisins and some without. Another feast! And more presents. If we were lucky, we could hang around and play games with my Aunt and Grandma after everything was cleaned up. It was enough just to get them laughing. They cackled in delight and we couldn’t help but join in. It didn’t really matter who was winning. Then out came the Christmas cookies. Cut out, decorated, rolled in coconut, shaped like candy canes, or maybe even chocolate. And fudge and homemade candy.

    No, there was no big Christmas dinner. I don’t think any of us could have eaten it. Instead, later, on Christmas afternoon or evening we enjoyed getting out the fondue set and the little sticks and making all sorts of sauces and dips. I never saw this as anything but a treat, until my brother-in-law joined the family and told us how he saw it. (“I have to cook these tiny pieces of meat myself??” or something to that effect.)

    Anyone else in my family might tell it differently, but these are my memories.

    As the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family, I gradually moved away from these traditions as I moved into my own adult life, but for me, they were still intact. I knew they were still taking place, some still are. And now, as step-mum in a new family, even as I try to hold on to little things that are important to me in my experience at Christmas, I know I am intruding on the memories and traditions of my new family.
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