Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blog Advent Tour

I have the pleasure of being a participant in the 'Blog Advent Tour'. I had intended to have my post up last night, but the date snuck up on me. Luckily I visited Things Mean A Lot this morning, and saw her Christmas post, which reminded me that it was my day for the tour also.

I am finding this much more difficult to write than I had anticipated. Not because I can't think of anything, but because I can think of too many things. My mind is flooded with Christmas' past. Christmas has always been so LARGE in my life, as I am sure it is to many, many people. When I was a child it all began on the weekend after Thanksgiving with a trip to the mountains on our snowmobiles to search for and cut down the perfect tree. The tree, of course, was never really perfect. It always looked better in the forest than it did once it was cut down, the snow brushed off of it, hauled on top of the mini-van for miles, and put up in the living room. Then the large gaps and crooked trunk became apparent. But it never mattered, it was our tree, and we saw it as perfect.

After we decorated the tree, it was time to decorate the house, outside. My dad went a little crazy -think Griswold - with our outdoor decorations, but it was always tastefully done. Not only was the house perfectly outlined, but the barn and the trees were also. It looked like a storybook gingerbread house (a very large gingerbread house since it was two-story and over 3500 square feet). We lived out of town, but once the sun went down, the corner by our house was filled with traffic, some of the cars even turned around in our driveway, so it was pretty clear that they had come to enjoy the lights. My bedroom was on the second story, and the Christmas lights outlined my bay window. I still feel so happy and peaceful imagining the soft, colorful glow of those lights as I drifted off to sleep.
Then there was the long string of Christmas Parties. Church Christmas parties with ham, cheesy potatoes and candy; family Christmas parties with ham, cheesy potatoes and candy; parties my parents hosted for their friends, which we spied on from the banister; the party at the fire station (my dad's work) where Santa Claus rode into the station on a fire truck, and then magically passed out to each child just the present he/she was wishing for (I am pretty sure now that our parents had a hand in that); and the list goes on.
On the fourteenth of December we always began 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', where we would pick a family to adopt and drop something on their doorstep each night. Something that vaguely corresponded with the song, my mom was very creative with this. We usually picked someone going through a hard time, and my brothers and I would take turns running to the door, ringing the doorbell, and then running away as fast as we could to avoid being seen.

And then finally, on Christmas Eve, the real celebration began. I always looked forward to Christmas Eve even more than Christmas morning, that was when we exchanged our 'name' gifts, which I guess you would call secret Santa. Early in the month we drew out a name of someone else in the family to secretly buy a present for, though we always ended up knowing who was buying our present, because we had to split up when we went to the mall together to buy these gifts. It was always a task trying to figure out who could shop together, without seeing their own present. Before we got to open this one gift on Christmas Eve, we always acted out the nativity story. My dad read from Luke, and we dressed up in robes and towels. I was always Mary, being the only girl until my little sis came along ten years later, then she was baby Jesus. When I was small, my dad was the camel, and I rode in on his back. Unfortunately all of these wonderful pictures are at my mom's house, I really need to get copies so that I have them too.
Many of these traditions I have carried on with my own little family. More than anything that is what Christmas is to me, family. Which is why, with five children of my own, we still pack up all of our presents, and goodies and blankets and sleeping bags, and five kids, and go to my mom's house for Christmas. Since my dad died of colon cancer six years ago, at the age of fifty-two, Christmas has never been quite the same. Christmas was so much his thing, and it has been dialed down a notch with him gone, but now we have a new tradition: on Christmas Eve, when we have a big fancy dinner, we light a candle and take a silent moment to remember him. If anyone loved Christmas and exhibited the spirit of Christmas all year long, it was my father. Never does he seem as close to us than he does at Christmas time. We'll be thinking of you, dad.

Click HERE to see the list of other participants on this tour.


Krissi December 13, 2008 at 11:32 AM  

What beautiful girls and what beautiful memories of your father. I think Christmas is the best time to remember those that have been a part of our lives. Shaping who we are and the memories of our past that make us happy. Have a Merry Christmas.

Kailana December 13, 2008 at 12:18 PM  

I love the Twelve Days of Christmas idea. That's a really great one! Thanks so much for participating! I enjoyed your post!

Marg December 13, 2008 at 12:30 PM  

What a lovely post Lisa! Your family has great traditions, and cool photos.

Thanks so much for participating in the tour.

Nymeth December 13, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing those lovely memories with us.

Roblynn and Rebekah December 13, 2008 at 1:10 PM  

Great traditions, sound very familiar! This year for the twelve days, since we would most likely get shot if we tried it here, I sent a card through usps with pics of the kids,tree, etc to Micah. I think he will like that. By the way you were right about your mom not checking her email! If you talk to her maybe tell her to give it a peek, I need her! Merry Christmas.

Chris December 13, 2008 at 5:51 PM  

What a lovely post. Your Dad sounds like he had a lot of Christmas spirit!

Memory December 13, 2008 at 8:07 PM  

Your childhood traditions are lovely! I especially like the idea of helping another family anonymously.

Suey December 13, 2008 at 10:50 PM  

Great post! Many of the memories are similliar to mine, and some of those things we still do today. Wonderful stuff. I love how your dad was so into it. I wish my husband could catch the spirit a bit more. He has moments, like tonight when he hauled us to see some dancing Christmas lights!

Julia Smith December 14, 2008 at 6:10 AM  

Your family seems to be as Christmas crazy as mine! Love your picture of the little one trying to peek from the top of the stairs. And the girls in their Christmas clothes! Gorgeous!

Great story about leaving a gift, ringing the doorbell and hightailing it out of there. And a lovely remembrance of your dad - his exuberance definitely came through in your post.

Susan December 14, 2008 at 7:03 AM  

what a lovely post. I love your memories, of Christmases past and present, of those you've helped, and how you are helping yourselves now with the loss you have suffered, to get through it together. I remember we - my sister and brother and I - always getting a special outfit for Christmas, so the picture of the three girls is beautiful and brings back my own memories! Thank you for sharing with us.

Bogsider December 15, 2008 at 8:30 AM  

Great post about your Christmas traditions. I always remember those who has passed away at Christmas, even though some passed many years ago. I do not always feel joyful remembering because it can be painful as well thinking of the times that were and will never come back, but usually I remember with joy and try not to let the sadness linger. Merry Christmas to you and your whole family.

Julia December 15, 2008 at 1:59 PM  

I enjoy your post! Thanks for sharing with us your stories, traditions and great pictures. Your children look adorable!

I wish you and your family a Happy Holidays!

Vickie December 16, 2008 at 2:50 PM  

what a great tradition! Great memories of your father. Thank you for sharing.

Sorry, got behind on Advent Tour, playing catch up.

Happy Holiday

Callista December 16, 2008 at 4:45 PM  

Thanks for sharing! Great photos. I love the way the staircase is decorated.

Michelle December 17, 2008 at 5:11 AM  

I really loved reading about Christmas in your family. Especially the 12 Days of Christmas and acting out the nativity!

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