Every Christmas is different, depending on where you are in life, and it's one of life's blessings to grow old and have so many Christmas memories.
My Christmases started out in a big Norwegian family with aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, cousins, the works. Apparently my great grandma on her death bed had made her daughters promise they would "keep Christmas Eve together" always. It was quite a promise because Grandma Sina didn't take into account basic math -- multiplication to be exact.
The number of people grew. House size did not. By the time I came along, there were a lot of us.
Christmas started at 5 pm on Christmas Eve when the whole clan, dressed in their absolute finest (always new for the children) clothes, crammed into Grandma's house for a sit down meal of turkey and all the trimmings, with three kinds of pie for dessert.
And when I say crammed, I mean when everyone got sat down to eat there was no way for anyone to move. If "someone" (ahem, not saying who it usually was!) had to get up to go to the bathroom, it involved everyone standing, shifting,and moving to make a path. Repeat on the way back to the table.
And when I say "the table" I really mean tableS, one big main table and auxiliary card tables in proximity to "the table" and TV trays for the host and hostess.)
|The loon ornament was carved and painted by Connie, Far Side of Fifty blog. It's a little bit of Minnesota here in South Carolina, and I love it!|
Before dinner a blessing was said in Norwegian and after three kinds of pie, the Christmas cookies were passed, Jule Kake (Christmas bread), krumkake, rosettes, and some I have no idea how to spell.
While the dishes were being done, which took HOURS with every piece of best china called to service, all those pots and pans, the "good" silverware, we kids sat as close to the Christmas tree and present pile as we could get and looked for gift tags with our name on them. Depending on who was or wasn't watching, we shook them all.
After the present extravaganza (not because each of us had so many presents, more because there were so many OF us) and a path had been cleared through the paper mess, my parent's generation and mine all went to church while the oldest generation stayed home to "get out the midnight supper". I think they probably just wanted to sit in peace and quiet with another glass of sherry (later very sweet Mogan David grape wine) and speak Norwegian.
Not to give away any family secrets, but someone usually brought mistletoe and someone else did not want to be kissed in the doorway every time she walked from kitchen to living room. Uncle Harry or Uncle Harold usually had a bit too much sherry or Mogan David, and one year my dad gave my mom a vacuum cleaner for her Christmas present. It was not a hit. Trying to ameliorate the damage to his reputation, the next year he gave her a nightie in a box with lots of tissue paper which she promptly smashed the top of the box back on and wouldn't let anyone see it.
We returned from church, had a little supper, and put on our new Christmas flannel nightgowns (made by Mom or Grandma) and found a place to burrow among the coats piled on Grandma's bed to sleep until our parents carried us to the freezing cold car for the drive home. Usually someone's car had been sitting in the sub zero cold too long and jumper cables had to be used before everyone was finally off and homeward bound.
Wonderful memories for a kid, the warmth of the house after the cold outside, the smells of food and pine, the love. I would give most anything to be a mouse in the corner at one of those Christmas Eves just one more time!