After only two days, Christmas seems like a distant memory. But that’s okay, because creating wonderful memories is one of the most precious things about the holiday. Another of the special things is watching family traditions getting passed down from generation to generation. My husband and I spent the day with our youngest daughter, Sheryl, and her 12-year-old twin sons, Chris and Nick. We’ve watched the boys open their gifts since they were born, and still love their excitement as they rip open each carefully wrapped package.
It was even better watching Sheryl open her package from the boys, though, as they laughed at her struggles. You see, they had put her present in a box, then that box in another, and then that box in still another. To disguise the gift they had weighted down the largest box with about five of the biggest river rocks they could find, adding around 30 pounds. Each individual box and the outside wrapping paper was completely sealed in packing tape, making it impossible to open anything without scissors. As Sheryl worked through each layer the boys kept giggling, telling her “Payback!” Stan and I’ve been famous in the family for disguising packages and using tape everywhere, and now that fun is being passed down. Might not be appreciated by everyone, but we have fun with it.
The kids’ last presents weren’t under the tree, they had to find them after a scavenger hunt for clues. Again, we did it a couple of times when our kids were little, and Sheryl started doing it a few years ago for her boys. Now the scavenger hunt is one of their favorite parts of the morning. It’s a lot of work for mom, particularly since she has to come up with harder and harder clues as the boys get older, but definitely worth it.
After all the gifts were opened, Stan was put to work. He always gets drafted for assembling whatever needs to be put together, so came prepared with a bag of tools. The men, Stan and the twins, worked on setting up a new barbecue for Sheryl, mini-fridges for each boy and a tall dresser for Chris, while Sheryl and I got the Christmas dinner together. Great bonding time for everyone, with no pressure for anyone.
We went home shortly after eating, and had a quiet evening alone. Stan and I quit doing gifts, except for the grandkids and our daughters, years ago, which eliminated all the financial and competitive pressure. We make sure our friends and family know how much we love them during the season, and try to spend some quality time with them. We don’t even get gifts for each other, but express our love, spend special time cuddling and try to do activities we both enjoy. People watching is one of our favorites, so when we’re out strolling through the stores, we’re entertained by the crazy holiday shoppers.
Stan has created a neighborhood tradition through his extensive outdoor lighting at our house. It’s not quite Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, but pretty darn close. Hand-crafted and painted wood figurines fill the yard, making it look festive even during the day when the lights are out. Then after dark the music starts, with thousands of bright lights flashing in time to the Christmas songs. Huge blow-up holiday figures fill the spaces left vacant of lights. As they pass our house, cars slow down and stop to watch before going on their way. It’s a lot of work and does spike the electricity bills, but the display is our gift to the neighborhood. The faces of the kids and adults that stop to look are the gifts we receive in return.
It’s always kind of sad to take everything down, but putting all the decorations away is like tucking the memories away as well. Next Christmas feels like it will take forever to get here, but when it does we’ll have another layer of sweet memories to take out and enjoy.