Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fun Monday: Holiday Traditions

Deborah, over at The Humble Housewife, is graciously hosting Fun Monday this week. The theme, appropriately enough, is holiday traditions.

I need to thank my dad right now for all his good work going through the family photo albums, scanning pictures, and emailing me. Not only that, he took my demandy-pants requests ("This is great, but do you have anything from 1988?") with good humour. Thanks, Dad-eye.

When I was 8, we moved into our first house of our very own. This was very exciting stuff, even though I was downgraded from the biggest room in the duplex to the smallest room in the house. Having our own house meant we no longer had to share our backyard with the kids who lived upstairs. It meant we didn't have to hear people tromping around over our heads. It meant that for the first time ever, we got to walk down the stairs on Christmas morning and our parents could see the surprise in our little faces all at once.

The Christmas morning procession down the stairs was a finely scheduled and choreographed affair. It didn't matter what time you woke up, you kept your little butt upstairs until it was time to get called down. And there was no stampeding down the stairs either. No, there was decorum, a dress code and order in what became our tradition.

We wore our brand-new Christmas pajamas and proceeded down the stairs in reverse age order. First Youngest Brother, then Middle Brother, then me. Christmas music played in the background and we had to pause momentarily to get our picture taken. Then we could proceed to the exciting business of opening presents, checking that Santa had taken his and the reindeers' treats, and making sure that the Baby Jesus had arrived safely in his crib in the Nativity Scene set.



As we got older, this routine varied only in its minor details. The older we got, the more likely we were to require a wake-up call. (Particularly when my mother, a nurse, had to go to work and we woke up at 4 am so she could have Christmas morning with us before her shift started.) We were less likely to wear pajamas. We were more likely to scowl at the camera's flash and hunch over cups of coffee as we trudged down the stairs.



There were years when I absolutely hated that tradition. I hated the picture taking. I had the cheesy prescribed nature of it. But now, I realise that the tradition was precious and meaningful, even when I didn't fully appreciate it. When you're a little kid, you think your family is always going to be just the same. That you're stuck with these people, like it or not, for the rest of your life. You don't realise that things change, that siblings get married, move away (sometimes thousands of miles away), and create new lives of their own. Things are just never the same again, even if you do all manage to get together for the holidays.



On a lighter note, the other tradition we had was the Most Favourite Present picture. Each of had a picture taken with our most favourite present, and then there was a kid group shot as well. Since my dad couldn't find any truly heinous pictures of me in the stair photos, I had him dig up one of my Most Favourite Present portraits. This is 1988 and the only thing I can say about the mullet, in my defense, is that it was WAY better than the hairstyle I had in 1986, the one that Peter saw in a school picture at my grandmother's house and called me 'Fro Girl for weeks.

27 Comments:

At 5 November 2007 at 08:15, Blogger bermudabluez said...

I so enjoyed your post! I know what you mean though. As a kid, I used to hate all the "traditional" things we were MADE to do. Now, they are fond memories and I am very glad we did them! Happy Fun Monday!

 
At 5 November 2007 at 11:30, Blogger Hootin'Anni said...

Heck, even if my mother was a nurse with a really early shift....I would have been waking HER up. LOLOL

I still have the kid in me when it comes to Christmas morning.

 
At 5 November 2007 at 12:34, Blogger laurie said...

oh, ann, i loved this. you're absolutely right about kids not understanding tradition. i often wish i woudl have paid even more attention when i was growing up (even though i practically took notes the whole time). it all gets lost so quickly.

we, too, had to stay upstairs until our parents said it was ok. we'd wake up very very early and then all gather in one bedroom and sing chrismtas carols at the top of our lungs until our parents got up and staggered out of bed.

(since none of us can carry a tune to save our life, you can imagine how pleasant that was to hear.)

i'm glad you're doing fun monday!

 
At 5 November 2007 at 14:18, Blogger Kaycie said...

Very cool, Ann. I love the pic of your little brother with two stuffed aimals. Very funny.

A very nice post.

 
At 5 November 2007 at 14:32, Blogger lisa's chaos said...

Thanx to your dad for sharing those photos with us! It's awesome that you had such family traditions. :)

 
At 5 November 2007 at 18:38, Blogger Col said...

This is great-- love the old photos. Your mullet was So Cool.
My dad often had to work for a few hours on Christmas too, but usually he would either go in late or we'd wait till he got home to open presents.
I haven't really thought about traditions, but I guess we have some, at least now. My dad always makes cinnamon rolls on Christmas eve, and we wake up, open our stockings, and eat our rolls. Then it's time for the serious business of opening presents.

The best Christmas was when I was probably 8 or 9, and my early-rising sister came barging into my room, saying "Get up, get up! Santa came, and we got the Glamour Gals ship, and the Rock Band, and the Car, and..." And I wasn't even mad that she ruined the surprise. (The items were left under the tree, unwrapped, which is how she knew what we got.)

 
At 5 November 2007 at 18:39, Blogger Sandy said...

I LOVE the mullet! The staircase picture, also, is just touching. Thanks for sharing.

 
At 5 November 2007 at 19:30, Blogger Kaytabug said...

Love the first staircase picture! I make our kids wait too...now it is harder as we have a fireplace downstairs and that is where we set the tree up and all 3 boys rooms are downstairs...at least one of them runs up over excited to wake us up then we keep them upstairs til Mommy can get coffee made and get the camera ready!

I love your idea of traveling with Grandma. I too have a scoop of my Grandparents ( the 2 that were cremated) they move with us... They got to go to 2 places so far that they had never been!

 
At 5 November 2007 at 20:30, Blogger AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

What a wonderful way to capture each year. I know my son's going to grow tired of my picture taking very soon. And, I love that you had breakfast together even if your mother worked

 
At 5 November 2007 at 20:46, Blogger Bren said...

How sweet of your dad to help out with the pictures. Thanks for sharing your pics.


Oh, and I left you a link for cannoli tubes in the comments on my blog. :)

 
At 5 November 2007 at 22:06, Anonymous Robinella said...

I'll be posting some Christmas morning shots in December. My mom loved catching that "just woke up" look and now I do it to my boys. It makes the scrapbooks more interesting. :-)

 
At 5 November 2007 at 23:05, Blogger Tiggerlane said...

Such a good post! My kid always scowls when I make her pause for photos - or make her pause at ALL before tearing into the presents! We had to have Christmas a day early one year, when she was very little, b/c my nurse husband had to work in the ER all Christmas Day.

 
At 5 November 2007 at 23:40, Blogger mjd said...

Hi Ann,
That was a fun recounting of your Christmases. Until I read your post, I forgot that our family waited until Christmas Eve to put the baby Jesus in his creche. Our mother also had us wait until January 6th to add the wisemen to the Nativity scene.

 
At 6 November 2007 at 00:13, Anonymous dawn said...

Such an awesome post about family traditions. Sometimes growing up, the traditions do seem goofy, especially when it is the folks dictating it, but as an adult you soon realize those are some of the things you cherish and want for your own kids, well maybe not the mullet ;-). (My sisters and I had those at that time too).

 
At 6 November 2007 at 00:30, Anonymous Karmyn R said...

I think those pictures are marvelous! What a great way to show how you aged throughout the years. Love it!

 
At 6 November 2007 at 06:38, Blogger -Ann said...

Bermudabluez - Yeah, who would have guessed that our parents knew what they were doing. :)

Hootin'anno - All of our friends thought we were the luckiest kids in all the land. Little did they know that by 7 am, we were passed out asleep on the floor with our presents around us.

Laurie - 10 kids and not a single singer? :) Seems to me from your blog that you remembered loads.

Kaycie - Thanks. Hope you're feeling better.

Lisa - Thanks for stopping by.

Col - Those sound like good traditions, well, maybe not so much the surprise ruining one. :)

Sandy - Thanks, but I am so utterly embarrassed by the mullet.

Kaytabug - Yeah, there were many years when my dad was fumbling with his flash and we were upstairs jumping out of our skin to go.

AFF - Your son will appreciate it later.

Bren - Thanks for the link. I can see that site is going to present some major temptations. I LOVE kitchen gadgets and tools.

Robinella - The bedhead look was only acceptable before the teenage years, then we insisted on at least a minimal amount of hair brushing. :)

Tiggerlane - Thanks. Some day, I bet your daughter will be mortified by all the scowling pictures. I know I am.

MJD - We did the same thing with the Wisemen. They started out in an entirely different room and we were allowed to move them closer over time, but they never arrived until the Epiphany.

Dawn - Yes, please counsel your kids on choosing their hairstyles wisely.

Karmyn - Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

 
At 6 November 2007 at 09:15, Blogger Fence said...

Love the photos.

We had almost the opposite tradition. First up would sneak down first, course, unless it was B#1 who somehow always managed to steal the key, we wouldn't be able to get in and open any presents. Only Santa ones were allowed to be opened before mass.

 
At 6 November 2007 at 13:53, Anonymous min said...

Funny how you love those family traditions as a kid...then come the teen years...then you love them again!

 
At 6 November 2007 at 16:45, Anonymous Robin (the PENSIEVE one) said...

Funny how our perspective changes as we get older, huh? My kids tolerate my picture taking now, but one day they will thank me.

Right?

Glad your dad helped you out with this post ;). Your pictures reminded me of MY own childhood (I wonder where those pics are). Love the idea of taking a favorite present photo...maybe I should start that with our kids....

 
At 6 November 2007 at 18:59, Anonymous Christine said...

What a wonderful post. That's great your dad helped you with your photos. And I love how you show the progression of 'Growing up' with the staircase photos. One tradition my mother did was having a Nativity, it's one I'd like to start, I haven't found the 'Nativity' that reminds me of my Mom's, it's just not the same to me, unless it's hers. But I think that's a wonderful tradition.

My teenage daughter likes to tease me about my 80's hairstyle too, looks just like yours! :)

Happy Fun Monday!

 
At 7 November 2007 at 03:33, Anonymous Sirdar said...

That is a great tradition. A person never really appreciates some traditions until later when they don't have them. Those are the ones that are special...like yours.

 
At 7 November 2007 at 12:50, Blogger Polly P said...

Thanks for sharing; the photo's in particular. I know what you mean about hating the tradition thing as a child, it was just too exciting to be bothered with.

Now as I look back I realise that Christmas was never the same once we'd all grown up and moved in our different directions.

My best memories are of the time when the families all gathered at my Grandmothers house, which was huge. We even heard Santa's sleigh bells that year, which renewed the older kids faith in that tradition.

Thanks to your post I realise now that it is the absence of family members that has taken the shine off the holiday, rather than the absence of Santa!

Things are a little better these days; now that I have kids of my own. There are even fewer family members now; than ever before, but hey, there's nothing to stop us all picking up a pen & sending a letter and photo's to oneanother, is there?

Have a great Christmas this year and every other year too!

 
At 7 November 2007 at 19:41, Blogger -Ann said...

Fence - Thanks. Was the key hidden? Peter's family does the hidden key thing and I find it very funny to watch the kids race around trying to find it.

min - Yep. Same thing with family vacations.

Robin - I'm still not the keenest on getting my picture taken, but I usually manage not to scowl about it. :) Your kids will definitely thank you one day.

Christine - Thanks. Yeah, my dad was very kind to put so much effort into getting the pictures together. 80's hairstyles were so heinous - what were we thinking?

Sirdar - Thanks and that's a very true observation.

Polly P - You're welcome. And you're so right too. You've encapsulated my thoughts about absent family members perfectly.

 
At 7 November 2007 at 20:56, Blogger Jo Beaufoix said...

Ahhh I really enjoyed this. My family did similar things Christmas morning. Stockings on mum and dad's bed, then dad had to go and see if Santa had been, then he'd call us down.
We do the same with my two little girls now.

 
At 8 November 2007 at 04:45, Blogger theotherbear said...

The 80's have got alot to answer for, don't they.
Loved reading your post, thanks to your dad for sending you the photos!

 
At 10 November 2007 at 09:16, Blogger alisonwonderland said...

great traditions - and memories! thanks for sharing!

 
At 13 November 2007 at 18:13, Blogger -Ann said...

Jo Beaufoix - I'm glad you enjoyed it - thanks for stopping by.


theotherbear - They certainly do. What in the world were we thinking? :)

alisonwonderland - You're welcome and thanks for stopping by.

 

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