In thinking back on our Christmas' when I was little I really could not tell you more than a few of the gifts that I had recieved over the years. The memories that are totally imbedded into my memory are of celebrating the birth of Jesus and family. My mom and dad were immigrants to Canada and we had no other "blood" relatives here in North America. Christmas was always celebrated with my godparents, my sister's godparents a family that was very good friends with my family. Being European, the big day was not Christmas day but Christamas Eve. When we, or should I say my parents, were hosting, it was a huge deal to get ready. The cleaning and dusting that went on! And my sister and I helped out with the dusting and trying to keep our stuff in our rooms. We were so excited because there would already be some presents under the tree and we could hardly stand it. My mom would be cooking all day preparing a huge feast. And I mean huge. We always had goose. Never turkey. And this wonderful stuffing that was sliced into these lovely oval peices. Then mom would make fried chicken and Hungarian kolbas and rice sausage in case someone didn't like goose. There would be mashed potatoes and rice in case someone didn't like potatoes. There would be cooked carrots and red cabbage, which I didn't like because it had caraway seeds in it. There would be tossed salad.
My dad would bring up this huge board we put over the table to make it bigger and then out would come the Christmas tablecloth and the good dishes and cutlery and the table would get set. The kids would get relagated to the basement rumpus room to play because the small kitchen was just not big enough. The company would start arriving and we almost couldn't stand the anticipation. We'd want to be in the living room staring at all the presents and trying to get in a shake or two without getting caught.
If the party was at our house, our presents were all out already, but if the party was at one of our godparents, my dad would somehow sneak out to put our presents under the tree before we came home so it was always a big surprise. One year I remember standing outside, hyper with anticipation, waiting for the door to get unlocked, when my dad shouts out, pointing at the sky, "Look there's Santa in the sky with his reindeer." So me and my sister are trying to hard to see Santa driving away from our house, looking all over the skies, but we just couldn't see him. But when we went in, there was presents under the tree. You know, my dad was so sneaky, I never once remember him being gone from the party to do this, never once remember him missing.
Whether we had company or not, presents were opened Christmas Eve. Once dinner was out of the way, us kids would be begging to get into the living room. My mom would always try to prolong the present opening until 9 p.m. I'm not sure why. I'll have to ask her. Then of course, there would be the usual pandemonium of ripping open presents. There would always be one of the adults suggesting we open the wrapping carefully so it didn't get wrecked. I think it was sort of a standing joke amongst them. We, of course, never listened.
But something I really remember looking forward to every Christmas Eve, was the midnight mass. We'd get to stay up and then we'd all head over to our parish. I remember the big manger scene at the front of the church and the beautiful candles lit all around. I remember the beautiful service and singing the carols. I remember how packed the church always was but the beauty of celebrating Jesus was always more important than the stuffiness of too many people all squished in.
I'm so glad my parents really made this a part of our Christmas'. I don't remember sitting on Santa's knee in a mall, although I'm sure I did. I can only name a handful of presents I ever got, but I know there were many over the years. What I do remember is celebrating Jesus through the midnight service and having "family" all around. I remember my parents making it special even in the leaner years. What I remember is love.
But in all those wonderful childhood memories of Christmas I have to say my absolute favorite Christmas memory occured 12 years ago this Christmas. We'd all just opened our gifts, me, my hubby, our girl and our boy. I was watching the music video my beloved hubby had got me and he was in the kitchen trying out his new waffle maker. When all of a sudden a huge pang of pain across my very pregnant tummy. Oh! Then more and more. I went to tell hubby I thought this was it and he gave me a look of stunned disbelief. "But I'm making waffles." Um, yeah well, you can make them later. While he shut everything down we phoned my mom who was going to watch the kids when the time came. When I told her to come over as fast as possible 'cause it was time, her reaction? "But I'm stuffing the turkey!" LOL! I told her she better get over now 'cause I was unstuffing mine! We got to the hospital and basically just in time. In two hours, from beginning to end, our precious T. was born at noon on Christmas Day. My doctor thanked me for being so quick about it as she could still get home to cook her turkey. I tell ya, I was surrounded by comedians that day! LOL!
They brought my special Christmas gift to me after checking her and decking her all out in a fuzzy Christmas stocking with an adorable knit baby sized santa hat on her head and a Christmas card from "her" with her tiny little footprint on it. Nothing will ever top that Christmas memory! And again my memory is of love, incredible love!