When I was a little girl, I remember bringing the Christmas tree into the house on Christmas Eve and leaving it completely bare for Santa to decorate. When it was time for bed, and bedtime always seemed to come extra early on this night, we would scurry around, looking for the biggest stocking we could find to leave out on the back of the couch – we didn't have a fireplace to hang it on - in hopes that we would find it filled to the brim with treats from Santa in the morning. Not everyone remembers that there was a time that we actually used a sock from our drawer. This was a really long time ago, before the cute homemade stockings or darling store-bought ones that we have now. It was hard to get to sleep on Christmas Eve and I never remember dreaming about sugar plums, but they were sweet dreams nonetheless. In the morning, as we crept down the hall to the living room, we would come upon a wonderful, magical sight…the bare tree had been transformed and was beautifully ornamented. The colored lights were glimmering in the early morning darkness. The experience was quite miraculous, especially since "Santa" had so many children to take care of. I never doubted his ability to accomplish the tasks. I was sure that every child would have an equally wonderful experience.
I don't recall exactly when the changes came, but the family traditions of my childhood Christmases past were replaced along the way. When I married, some of Scott's traditions were mingled…some were abandoned. My mother-in-law used to painstakingly put tinsel on the tree, one strand at a time. I am not that precision oriented and tinsel (which I don't even know if you can buy anymore) flung on the tree doesn't look all that appealing! Nix the tinsel. But I love the gingerbread house tradition and we have done it for many years. That tradition is carried on with Jake, who has taken it to another level…or two!
It is not enough to keep the decorations up for just the week following Christmas. It needs to be for the whole month. I love the decorations and my Santa and snowman collections, most of which are gifts from my family, and I try to get them up as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. My Mom's traditions have changed as well. I don't know if its because there are no more small children in her home, or because it is fun to have the sparklies up longer, but she puts her tree up early now like me! It's so much work that we want to be able to enjoy it for a really long time. For the kids, it is anticipation of things to come. For me, it helps to serve as a daily reminder of things that are on my list to do. It can get to be a busy time for certain, but I love things busy!