What do you remember about Christmas from growing up?

I remember little traditions. Like this red felt advent calendar.

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It hung on the wall next to the kitchen and every morning we got to go into the pocket and pull out items to either hang on the tree or to add to the nativity. There were 8 kids so we had to spread out the picking and Mom had to make it bigger so that there would be something for all 25 days until Christmas. I remember this was one of my favorite parts of Christmas was watching the scene build.

I remember pulling out the Christmas dishes after Thanksgiving and then getting to use them all month long.

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I remember filling the mug with hot chocolate on Christmas day and using the plate for the maple pecan ring (although my pieces never had the pecans in it. I hate nuts!).

Christmas morning was usually a fanfare of excitement. We could only open our stockings or the presents from “Santa” that were unwrapped. Then after everyone had dressed for the day and had breakfast, we’d gather in the huge living room and one by one open presents. The youngest who could read was always in charge of distribution (something that continues to this day and usually I’m still the one who has to help when it’s a Christmas without kids).

I remember one Christmas where my dad actually videotaped the whole thing. I remember watching the tape a long time ago and the only memory I have of watching myself as a child was “God, I was an annoying kid. I would hate to be my sibling!” (I really hope that my siblings and friends don’t think that way about me still…).

Mom always puts on Neil Diamond’s Christmas album. I love that she loves to listen to a Jewish man sing about Christ and Christmas. It’s the only CD that I save until December. Any other albums are free game before December 1st, but Neil is sacred.

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year. Sometimes, it is a little lonely. It’s harder now that my siblings don’t always come to my parents’ house. A couple of Christmases ago, my parents decided to come and spend Christmas in Utah with one of my brothers. Although I was invited up on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, I spent the night in between at my house, in my bed. I woke up on Christmas morning and opened my two presents, went to church, and then went to my brother’s to finish Christmas. It was probably the most depressing Christmas morning of my life.

The magic of my childhood, of everyone being together, is gone. If I’m honest, lately I’ve been fearful of a future where I have no home to go to for Christmas and how I would spend the day by myself. I try not to think of that too much because it just sends me on a slide down. I wonder if I’ve lost some Christmas spirit. But then December 25th comes again and I try to sit back and just enjoy the magic of the season and the blessings I do have—a family that loves me, a place to call home, and a Savior who died for me.

Merry Christmas, all!