November 28, 2014

Christmas Memories and Traditions by Tamara of Traveling with T

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” “Silver Bells, Silver Bells- it’s Christmas time in the city…” “And a partridge in a pear tree……” Just in case you can’t tell, Christmas songs are beginning to dance through my head. It always happens around this time of year- sometime in the first couple of weeks of November, I begin to anticipate Christmas- the memory making, the traditions, and more.

When Becca emailed me about taking part in her Holiday Extravaganza, I immediately said “YES!” and began thinking about what I wanted to write about. Then, life began to get in the way- and my oh-so-long time to write this dwindled. So, I began to focus- and I decided the best way to write about Christmas memories and traditions was to start at the beginning and hit the few key years- the good, the bad and the ugly. These are the years that I remember for various reasons- and can look back fondly on some years and now laugh about others.  So, from my house to yours- here is a look at T’s holiday upbringing- may your holidays be gloriously filled with what makes you smile!

The early years:
In my earlier time, when I was just the darling princess of the house, before my status as the only child came to an end (a role that I did not give up graciously or without a fight) my grandmother took me shopping one day. And we found IT. The package of Sesame Street Ornaments. Oh, they were glorious to my young mind. Beautiful. Perfect. And mine,
all mine. They were paper and they were of the “insert tab a into tab b” type. But they were mine. Even better- the topper was Grover coming out of a star and waving to everyone. Oh, how I loved (still love) Grover. Grover MADE the tree and for many, many, many years Grover topped the tree- happily waving to me (and to anyone else who was in the room).

Ernest Saves Christmas:
Every family has a Christmas movie. Maybe it’s a classic or maybe it’s something more modern. Maybe it’s something that is funny. For many a year, at my grandmother’s house- Ernest Saves Christmas would be playing on the TV. With 7 grandchildren- there was always someone in the house who was in the mood for a funny slapstick (ok stupid!) comedy. But I can’t think of that movie without thinking back to being piled on the couch with my cousins, eating popcorn and laughing at that movie.

The year that Christmas wasn’t:
It was 1998. We had moved into our new house a few months earlier and was preparing for the holidays- getting a new Christmas tree. Wrapping presents. Watching movies.  And then…. Disaster. ICE STORM. Power out. In most houses, no problem. In our old house- no problem. Problem at new house because everything ran on electricity and we had no juice due to the ice. So, we head to my grandmother’s.  We stayed there for days- and between the out of town guests (and the fact that I never knew what room or house I was getting shuffled to) and the general holiday hub-bub, I was getting antsy.  I needed my own space. My time to decompress and relax. Thank goodness the boy I was dating was pretty understanding- he would come and pick me up and we would ride around looking at lights and talking- just to give me a break from the zoo that my grandmother’s house had become.

The year that the freaking 9 foot tall Christmas tree came to live at my house:
After the 1998 Christmas, my dad bought a generator and my mom decided to make this the best FIRST Christmas in our new home. So, I find myself in Target 2 weeks before Christmas, looking at this huge tree- and my mom grinning and saying “That’s it. That’s our tree.” **I should pause in the story at this point and say that I am 5’1, my parents are 5’10 and 5’8, and my brother is 5’6. So I’m not really sure who my mom thought would be
climbing up that ladder year after year after year to put the top on the freaking 9 foot tree- but there you have it. And, yes, it’s gorgeous- when the tree is put up and the lights and the ornaments are on it. It’s a beautiful tree- all full and good looking. But, crap on a cracker…. It’s 9 foot. And it’s a $#*@% to put up.

The year that Grover died:
Refer back to my story of how Grover was the light of my life. He was THE Christmas topper. Grover, being paper, had suffered a few mishaps over the years. His arm had been broken (easily fixed with Scotch tape). His tabs were not working (another Scotch tape fix). When it came time to put the tree up, I began to hunt eagerly for Grover- in the move and the Christmas that wasn’t- ornaments had not been unpacked- and I was eager to see him. Except, I couldn’t find him. I dug through box after box. I checked other places. Then I called a family meeting. It was serious def-con 5 level situation. Grover was missing- and a BOLO was issued. My dad immediately understood the situation. Grover was a treasured member of the family (or so I thought till I found out there was a Benedict Arnold amongst us)- and as we began talking about the places I had looked, I noticed my brother was not concerned. Not worried. I immediately called his hand at it- and after much wiggling, squirming, and denials of many kinds- he confessed to throwing Grover away as he had never really cared for him- and since Grover was falling apart (nonsense- as he was being fixed with Scotch tape!) he just let Grover go have a new life. And this is the point where I knew I should have remained an only child. What kind of person does this crap? Revenge will be mine and Grover’s one day. #30somethingandstillbitter.

The year that we scratched the wood floor:
In the following years of the 9 foot tree coming to live at my house- my mother began to see the error of her ways. But, still, we have that 9 foot tree. One year, while on Christmas break, me and my brother decide to put the tree up. So we go to where the tree lives, drag it up to the living room and begin to sort the limbs. Then start to work on the tree- as we are doing this- singing a happy little tune- I realize the tree looks funny. It’s not following the normal look of the tree- and we have to start taking limbs down and switching around as we had messed up. Finally, we get the tree up and it’s looking good. I see my mom driving up the driveway- and I know that she will be so excited- the tree is up- we can start to decorate. She comes in and we eagerly await the sounds of approval and thanks- and when none are forthcoming- we ask her about the tree. Her reply: “You scratched my floor.” #theyearIbegantohatethattree

How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story:
Two classics that must be watched with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and either popcorn or some fudge. Both rank high in the whole “It’s not Christmas till THESE movies have been watched!”

The year of the Rockettes:
In 2011, my bestie was living in Nashville. We made plans to do the whole Opryland at Christmas thing- see the Rockettes, go to the ICE show, and just have a very fun Christmas together.  Being my second time to see the Rockettes, I was equally as enchanted as I was the first time- and my bestie loved it too! After the Rockettes, we walked around the Gaylord Hotel- gawking at all of the decorations. The huge trees. The lights. The music. Ahh! Then the next day, we went to the ICE exhibit. I highly encourage you to go- whatever the theme is, it’s worth it- because the people that put the ICE exhibit together are pure genius.

The Canton “City of Lights” Christmas display:
I live about 45 minutes from Canton, MS. City of Lights is what they call it because it’s been featured in a few movies. They also have this pretty incredible display of lights, a signing tree, carriage rides, and more that is free and open to the public from Thanksgiving to the New Year. For me, walking through the lights, observing the happy families taking pictures for Christmas cards, sipping my hot chocolate and soaking up the music- it’s a good part of the holidays.

However you spend the holidays, whether it’s with your family or the family of your own choosing- I hope that it’s a wonderful time. A time filled with joy and happiness and good memories (or at least good stories to tell!)

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