Christmas celebrators, we’re in the home stretch! Are you ready?
To keep you in the spirit, I’ll be writing about my favorite Christmas memories all this week. I am obligated inspired to do this by Ms Wanderlust Scarlett, who has tagged me to write about 12 Christmas anythings–that is, I could’ve written about my favorite Christmas carols, presents, traditions, etc.
But I chose my 12 favorite Christmas memories, and I’m going to do it in installments because I want to write more than just a line for each one. I hope you understand.
I’m also going to use this opportunity to share some Christmas photos throughout this week-long meme. I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to write up your own, if you like, and if you do, please link to me and Wanderlust Scarlett, creatress of the meme, so we can find your list.
1. Decorating the Staircase
I grew up in a house that virtually exploded with red, green, and gold at Christmastime and I loved it. I loved every minute that those lights twinkled around me and enveloped me in winter warmth–and I always felt a bit deflated once they had to come down after the Epiphany. Every corner was Christmas in my house growing up–even in the bathroom.
I don’t know about you, but in my experience, a normally cozy house becomes extraordinarily welcoming and warm with Christmas decorations.
Plus I just *love* sleeping by the lights of the Christmas tree.
I always helped my grandmother put up the decorations sometime after Thanksgiving; in case you don’t know, I lived with my grandmother, so when I talk about my grandmother’s house, that’s my house too.
Decorating was always a big production since everything had to be brought up from the basement, every day knick knacks had to be packed away carefully, lights had to be tested.
We’re talking all day, Christmas music blaring fun.
And although every year was special, I’ll never forget the first time I was entrusted with the staircase railing. From the first to second floor of my childhood home, there are about 15 steps with a railing that runs up the side–and it’s located right in the middle of the house in the hallway.
Other than the tree, and even more than the faux fireplace, *this* was the focal point of the Christmas-themed house.
Holly garland, small white lights, old wooden ornaments that I had painted as a young child, other old-fashioned wooden ornaments that lost more arms and legs with each passing year no matter how carefully they were wrapped, stained glass ornaments I had made as an older child, and some of the funniest looking elves I’ve ever seen–plastic faces, cloth bodies, knees scrunched to chest–covered the railing for a good long month.
Slight digression: the first year I was in Italy I saw a box of ornaments similar to the old-fashioned wooden ones I always used on the staircase. I couldn’t believe it, but they were kind of steep in price, so I let them sit. Then they were still there the next year, just that one box of ornaments that made me think of home every time I saw it.
And I found it in the same spot the following year as well.
Well this year I finally bought them because I now understand that they were waiting for me. I’m so glad they’ve been patient.
Here’s the snowman that to my eye is identical to the one I remember from the staircase ornaments:
I just loved decorating that staircase, and my grandmother knew it because even when I was in college and she had all the other decorations up by the time I got home for break, she left the staircase bare for me.
Rolling out that garland, wrapping lights around it, and then positioning the ornaments just so–definitely one of my fondest Christmas memories. I simply adored how that decorated staircase lit up the heart of the house with a warm glow throughout the holiday season, and I loved that I was responsible for it.
2. The Christmas Eve Routine
Around 4 pm, we’d have dinner–something to hold us over until after Mass, which was usually around 7 pm. It was always fish of some sort as we weren’t allowed to have meat until after we went to Mass. Yes, those were our household rules.
But before we went off to church, there were lots of preparations for after church. This is because after early Mass, much of the extended family and friends came to my grandmother’s house for a few hours. There was always ham, potato salad, pickled eggs, deviled eggs, and many trays full of cheese, olives, pickles. Ah, and also suppresata and ringed bologna.
And raisin bread. And various nuts. And fruit. And chocolates.
And the trays of homemade cookies, of course.
And I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the foods; Christmas Eve was a feast second only to Thanksgiving in our house, and a lot of people had to eat standing up because the kitchen was always spilling over with well-wishers.
For those wondering about the lack of typical Italian food, don’t worry. It came the next day in the form of homemade ravioli, spaghetti, rigatoni, meatballs, and more.
In conjunction with this memory, perhaps a 2(a), is my memory of the first Christmas without my grandmother in 2001. She had passed away less than two months before, and it was so hard even being in that house without her, let alone at the holidays, which were without a doubt her favorite time of the year.
My dad absolutely wanted to keep that Christmas Eve tradition alive and so before church, I ran around getting together all the trays and plates and cups and everything that we’d need because, of course, other than my grandmother, I was the only one who knew where everything was and how everything was supposed to go.
I do miss those Christmas Eves, but I also know they don’t really exist anymore without my grandparents there.
But oh what memories I’m so lucky to have.