When I was growing up there were lots of things I looked forward to each year around the holidays. For example, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas my dad would drag out the plastic light-up nativity scene and arrange it in our front yard.
Like this one - except my Jesus was wrapped in an old towel for added authenticity.
I also knew that about a week before Christmas my mom and dad would hop into my dad's truck and head out to find a Christmas tree. And forget the traditional Frasier fir - my parents didn't believe in buying a Christmas tree. Instead they would drive around town until the spotted a suitable bushy cypress tree in someone's cow pasture. We always breathed a sigh of relief when they got it home without getting caught.
But some of my favorite traditions were the simple things we did each year.
I loved how my Mom always made a little paper chain out of Christmas ribbon for my brother and I to use to count down the days until Christmas. The chain had 25 links, and every night starting on December 1st we would get to cut a link from the chain before we went to bed.
I also loved how we would always eat dinner and open presents with my Grandma V on Christmas Eve. And afterwards we would gather in our living room and watch "A Christmas Carol" (ONLY the one with George C. Scott of course) before heading off to bed.
P.S. This particular tradition was so deeply ingrained in me that it presented a major dilemma when my parents separated. The only way my brother and I could resolve it was by watching the movie twice; once at Mom's house and then again when we got to Dad's house.
P.P.S. Frank Finlay as the Ghost of Jacob Marley gave me nightmares as a child.
Taking all of these special memories into account and keeping in mind all the special feelings I still feel when I see a bushy Cypress tree growing along highway 18, MG and I knew it would be important to establish some of our own traditions for Picklebug.
One of the things we decided to do was spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning here in VA as a family before packing up and driving south to visit with family. We didn't want to get lost in all the chaos that typically takes place in my childhood home - especially when all four of my brothers are there.
Our plan was to do presents with each other on Christmas Eve and then do presents with Picklebug on Christmas morning.
But due to the fact that neither myself nor MG are very good waiting to open gifts - and because we are VERY good at coming up with excuses to do things our way - we've already given PB most of his Christmas presents.
And thank goodness we did.
By giving PB some of his presents early we learned two things:
1. Always take the gift out of the packaging and assemble it BEFORE you try to get an 11 month old to play with it. Otherwise he'll think the box is the gift.
2. With little kids you have to PACE YOURSELF.
We only got Picklebug 6 or 7 gifts - and most of them were "little gifts" like a book and a ball. But after the rush of ripping paper off of a bright new toy (especially the ones that make noise) PB is NOT interested in opening something else. It's just too much stimulation. After we gave him his See-N-Say he didn't want to look at anything else for at least 30 minutes!
So we decided to spread out the rest of his gifts over the next two days. Tonight we let him have his BIG (pre-assembled) present - the LittlePeople Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway.
Don't you love the wrapping? :)
And after all the excitement - he let us know he'd had enough.