Christmas meme, Part 4
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? In my family the rule was, "As long as you believe, Santa comes." We all still believe.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Our immediate family Christmas became Christmas Eve. As a kid that's when we got all our gifts, except the ones from my parents and Santa. We always had the traditional seven fishes dinner, followed by mass (when I attended) and then we regathered for gift exchange. We opened gifts, one person at a time, by age (oldest to youngest). As adults, the holidays got complicated again. There were our own families to visit, as well as those of our significant others, so Christmas traditions have become a little more flexible.
When I was working in crisis intervention, I made a point of being Santa for the kids in the shelter. My family donated a lot of money and gifts, plus what I bought on behalf of the agency and the other donations that came in. I would wind up at the shelter putting all of the gifts together and organizing them so they would be ready as soon as the children woke up. Often at 2 or 3 in the morning, my mother would call asking me to come home so we could exchange gifts.
I remember a Christmas eve about 15 years ago. My brother and sister-in-law and I all got new rollerblades for Christmas, so at 3:00 a.m. we were outside in our pajamas and coats skating around the neighborhood, testing them out.
As I said last time, when we were kids we opened three gifts from my parents on Xmas Eve. They were always a robe, pajamas and slippers so we would look pretty in the photos she took on Xmas morning.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? My mother always had the most control freak Christmas tree, ever. She often made a lot of the decorations and ornaments so she could have exactly what she wanted. We always tease her about never putting up any of the ornaments we made as kids. She might have kept them out for a while (she also didn't believe of anything marring the clean surface of her fridge, no posters on the walls of bedrooms, etc), but they went out with the trash, shortly after their presentation. One year my cousin, the brainy and beautiful Little Squirt thought herself far superior to my brother and I, when she bought an ornament at her school's store that she knew my mom would put on the tree. It was an apple (at that time my mom's tree was apples and red/green plaid ribbons ~ her tree topper was this amazing red/green plaid bow with long streamers that went down the tree as a sort of garland which she made herself) with #1 aunt written on it. You should have seen the smug look on her little face when she looked at us as it went right up on the tree. To really drive home the point of the extent of my mom and her control freak tree, all of her wrapping paper matches her tree decorations. We were not allowed to put any of our wrapped presents under the tree. We could bring them into the room when we handed them around for opening, but we could not have presents under the tree that did not go perfectly with her decorations.
My aunt's tree is huge and filled with memories of everywhere she's been. I always loved her tree. She's also a control freak, in her own way, but her tree is filled with souvenirs and memorabilia of her life and travels.
I'm completely out of control. I buy ornaments that I like when I see them. My tree is pretty much a mishmash of the things that make me happy. If anyone gives me an ornament, it goes on my tree. My tree is generally unsafe for cats and small children, most everything on it is big and shiny. I have a 6" mercury glass cucumber on my tree (Macy's had a tree filled with mercury glass vegetables one year). I have an enormous red mercury glass Christmas bulb hanging from a branch, and someone gave me a huge metallic yellow light bulb to go with it. I like all of my decorations. I have a lot of Disney stuff, some Ancient Egypt, a lot of beach stuff, a lot of snowmen and many moons, suns and stars, often as Santas or snowmen. It's kind of a fun tree. I like it.