1. My very first Christmas memories are of my dad waking me up on Christmas morning while it was still dark outside. The hall light would be on, but my bedroom would be pitch black. I’d wake up sleepy-headed, but gain my bearings quickly once I remembered that it was Christmas morning. You see, Dad would wake my brother and me up before he left the house to milk the cows because he wanted to see us find our Santa gifts. We would play with our new toys while Dad milked the cows, and Mom made a huge Christmas breakfast. To this day (even in July) if I wake up in the middle of the night at my parents’ house, and the hall light is on, I’m instantly flooded with fabulous memories of Christmas mornings so many years ago.
2. By the time I was in high school, my mom and I had started a tradition of baking a few batches of Christmas cookies every weekend starting in early October. By mid-December we’d have enough cookies in the freezer to make elaborate trays of cookies and fudges to give to everyone we knew. My teachers, mom’s hairdresser, the mailman, and elderly neighbors were just a few of the lucky recipients of those delicious trays of calorie-laden goodness.
In later years, I’d dedicate a weekend with my mom for a cookie baking marathon. I think it was my dad’s favorite weekend of the year since he always assumed the role of quality control manager, tasting a sample cookie from every batch.
3. Book Night has become a favorite holiday tradition of our sons. We started it back when they were very little, and it’s been an annual staple ever since. We used to start the night at Barnes and Noble next to Reston Town Center, but since the store closed last year, we had to go to McLean to find the nearest book store still open. In the future, we may all need to be logged onto Amazon on our laptops and iPads for Book Night, but I certainly hope not. After everyone purchases as many books as they want (within reason), we head to RTC for dinner. One year we went to Morton’s, one year to Jackson’s… We go wherever meets our fancy, and this year we’re going to Il Fornaio, were we had Joseph and Julie’s rehearsal dinner.
4. These days we go to the 8 PM Christmas Eve mass, but when the boys were little we went to the earlier children’s mass. We were founding parishioners of our parish (meaning we attended church in a local high school auditorium until our school/church was built). Once St. Theresa’s had a building of its own, we just happened to be the family chosen to take the gifts down for the very first Christmas mass in our new home. Daniel was a pre-schooler at the time, and got to carry Baby Jesus to his crib for the very first time. After mass, our friend and paster, Monsignor McMurtrie reminded Daniel of what a special honor he’d had during mass. I will never forget how serious Daniel took his job, and how pleased we were that he got to carry Baby Jesus while Bill, Joseph, and I presented the gifts.
5. Now that our sons are young adults and we have a daughter-in-law, we have a new tradition after Christmas Eve mass. We’ve always driven around our neighborhood admiring all of the beautiful Christmas lights, but now instead of putting the boys to bed when we get home so Santa can come; we have a delightful evening of snacking on sausage roll, homemade sweets, and wintery cocktails. It’s family time, and a pure delight for Bill and me.
- What are your favorite holiday traditions?
- Do you have any triggers that cause a flashback to your childhood? ~ For me, it’s waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the hall light on – it always takes me back to my childhood Christmases!
- Who’s racing this weekend?