This year is my first ever Christmas not spent with my family, and I’m a little emotional about it. I am very excited to experience my first ever Grandlienard Christmas, but at the same time, I’m going to miss celebrating Christmas with the people, food, smells, and traditions that I’m used to. Let me just tell you, I LOVE traditions. And we had a ton growing up, and still follow some to this day. Anyone else’s family still open one small present on Christmas eve? Still save the stockings for last? Pose in front of the Christmas tree in a fancy dress and shiny shoes? (Ok, we don’t do that anymore…)
I remember Christmases growing up like they were yesterday. On Christmas Eve, we’d go to the candle light service at church and then listen for Santa’s sleigh bells on the ride home. My grandparents slept over every Christmas Eve, and it was always so special to me because my Mom-mom would sleep with me, and I just loved snuggling up with her. Before we went to bed, my parents would pick out a small gift that DJ and I could open, and then we’d rush to bed before Santa came so he wouldn’t skip out on our house! (Childhood anxiety anyone?) I remember every Christmas Eve I would squeeze my eyes shut as if to wish myself to sleep, because I knew the faster I fell asleep the faster I’d wake up and it’d be CHRISTMAS!!!
I have never been an early riser, so DJ was always the one to wake everyone up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. And then we’d sit on the stairs and wait… We’d wait for my Mom-mom to put on her makeup. (Why? I don’t know, but she always looked her best in pictures, so there you have it.) We’d wait for my dad to make the coffee. We’d wait for the coffee cake to be warmed up. We’d wait for my mom to turn on the Christmas carols and tree lights. All the while we had to sit on the landing of our staircase where we had no line of sight to the tree. My Pop-pop would walk back and forth from the living room to the bottom of the stairs telling us about what Santa had brought us. First he’d tell all sorts of tales about how Santa forgot us and there were no presents under the tree. (We always knew he was pulling our leg.) Then once he knew he couldn’t fool us, he’d start telling us magical tales of all the beautifully wrapped presents Santa had left. This probably only took 5 or 10 minutes but to us it seemed to take HOURSSSSS.
Then one of my parents would come tell us we could come down and we’d RACE to the living room to see what Santa left us. I remember one year, Santa even “accidentally” left soot prints from his boots on the carpet to my mother’s “dismay.” We couldn’t believe we actually had PROOF Santa had been there!
Then we’d go back and forth handing out gifts, and open them one at a time getting more and more excited at each new thing we received. One gift that I remember being our favorite for years to come was a cardboard store complete with pretend phone and plastic food.
And of course, who forgets getting their very first bicycle for Christmas? Especially one that comes with handle tassels and a banana seat?
Our stockings would be saved for last, and then we’d go into the kitchen for a family breakfast feast. That night, my mom’s whole side of the family would all go to my grandparents house for my Mom-mom’s annual roast beef sandwich and ziti dinner. One year, my cousins, DJ and I all sang the 12 days of Christmas for the rest of the family. (It’s rumored to still be somewhere on tape, but so far hasn’t surfaced…) But if that didn’t happen, usually my cousin Claire and I would put on some other kind of Christmas show. Christmas really was magical when I was younger.
Of course as we got older, found out that Santa really didn’t exist, began celebrating 2 separate Christmases, and lost my Pop-pop to pulmonary fibrosis, it lost a little bit of it’s magic. But the holiday will always be special, and to this day I still look forward to roast beef sandwiches and ziti at Mom-mom’s. No matter what, Christmas will always be my favorite holiday, and in great part, that is due to the magic my parents created when I was younger.
Now, before some of you totally judge my parents on the whole Santa thing, I also have to add that they made sure Jesus was the reason for the season. We always lit advent candles (DJ and I fighting about who got to light the special white one at the end) and talk about what they meant on each Sunday. I also loved putting up our nativity set, and I’d play with it all the time. (Who needs a Barbie dream house when you have a Nativity set?!) Jesus was definitely the main focus, but they also made sure to add some extra fun with Santa (and Elmer!)
So this Christmas I am sad to not be with my family, I’m not gonna lie. But at the same time, I’m really, REALLY excited to experience my very first Grandlienard Christmas. Like I’ve said before, I am incredibly blessed to have married into one of the greatest families ever. I’ve been asking Stuart what some of their traditions are and he’s told me a few, but I mean he’s a guy, so you know how that goes. I’ll just have to experience them to find out.
One of the biggest things I’m thankful for this Christmas is simply my family. My side and Stuart’s. We are blessed with two amazing families, and whether near or far, I’m thankful they will always be there for us, always love us, and always support us no matter where we go in life.
To our family: thank you for everything you’ve been to me since the day I was born. Whether I’ve known you for 27 years, or for 2, I’m thankful for all of you. Whether I have tons of Christmas memories with you, or this is the first year we’ll be making memories, you mean more to me than I could ever express. I wish I could put into words just how special each of you are, but since that would make this blog post NEVER ENDING, please just know that I am forever thankful for you, and love each one of you more than anything! IF this Christmas is one we won’t be sharing, know that I am missing you a ton! And if this Christmas is one we’re celebrating together, know that I am beyond excited to experience this wonderful holiday with you! Have the most blessed Christmas, and please know I will be thinking of all of you on this most special of days.