Tuesday, December 9, 2008


There is just something about this time of year that brings my mind to 'traditions' - just like it will turn to 'goals' in just a few weeks. So I think of the past, and the present, and of what traditions I am setting into the future.

As a child, Christmases were at my grandparent's house in Northern Virginia. My mother, her siblings and their families, all returned home for the holiday. My siblings and I were the only grandchildren, as our cousins weren't born until after we stopped traveling.

It wasn't a "go and be spoiled at Grandma's House" kind of thing (aside from the cookies!). It was more of a "children-are-to-be-seen-and-not-heard" place where our grammar and word choices were corrected...frequently.

But, it wasn't ALL bad. There were some fun things. The "road race room" for example. It was basically a storage / play room - but it had the "road race" table in it. This large table - built by my grandfather and uncles - stood about 4 feet in the air, about 12 feet long and 6 feet wide (or maybe it just seemed huge because I was small...) Nonetheless, upon it was an elaborate electric car and train set, complete with houses, landscaping, people... Clearly, my favorite room in the house!

There were also the coloring books - and the one year she had ROLLS of coloring pages. Once we were older, we dabbled with grandma's oil paints. There was plenty of time for needlework and other quiet activities.

The aunts and uncles were there, as well. Every year, we'd take a trip to "the city" - Washingtong DC - and go to the Air and Space Museum or the National Zoo.

But one of my favorite memories about Christmas at Grandma's house: Christmas Eve. Sometime before then, Granddad would get the tree, put it up, and place the lights. Later, we'd decorate it as a group - kiddos getting to throw the tinsel on, and I'm sure, the adults getting to disperse it evenly, so it wasn't so "clumpy".

By Christmas Eve night, usually everyone had assembled. After a meal at the long, long dining table (seating 12-15, I'd guess), we headed into the living room. My uncle, my mother's youngest brother, would bring his guitar, and it would begin. We'd sit around and sing Christmas carols. In the early years, Uncle Ken would let us help strum the guitar. As we grew, I brought my clarinet for my rendition of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".

At the end of our singing, we headed downstairs - banned from coming up again until 7am Christmas morning.

But, as the clock struck 7, we raced up the stairs. Santa gifts, and stockings were unwrapped, and thus fair game until after breakfast, when the wrapped gifts would be opened.

Little did I know that much of that would carry forth into my adulthood... (to be continued)

Proverbs 22:6 - Train [teach] a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (NIV)

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