The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Yuletide Greetings

Bonnie posted a Christmas memories blog ( and I waited upwards of two days before totally ripping off her idea.

My family is a very traditional family. I'm not talking about values or morals or structure, although I suppose we were those as well. I'm talking about how my family loves us some traditions! If it's worth doing one year, we figure, it's worth doing EVERY year!

Usually I write to entertain you, the reader. But for this blog, well...this Bud's for me, but you come along too as I present my favorite Christmas memories (in no particular order):

1. Monkey Bread.
If I were super organized like Bonnie, I would have posted the recipe. But I'm not, so if you want it, let me know.
Monkey bread is a kind of coffee cake I guess. It's made from biscuits and cinnamon and sugar. It's gooey and magical. Every year, Mom would get up early and bake monkey bread for us to eat while we opened presents. Should I ever get married, I hope someone gives me a bundt pan, so I can make this too.

2. Putting up the tree.
I was allergic to pine when I was little, so we invested in a fake tree. To my wee childhood self, it was the most wondrous humongous thing ever. There was nothing quite as fun as finally talking Mom into letting us put it up (not until December!). We would haul out all the ornament and decoration boxes, put on Amy Grant's Tender Tennessee Christmas and try to remember how to assemble the dang tree.

Picture: I really hope we're singing...
At the end of the Amy Grant tape we had taped ourselves singing Christmas carols. There is nothing quite as funny as listening to Pam (age 5) forget half the words to Up on the Rooftop and just start making clicking noises.

3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I will always treasure the times Mom read aloud to us. And my favorite of all the books she read to us was the Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.
"Hey! Unto you a child is born!"

4. Opening Presents.
I was a wreck the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Not because I cared so much what I was getting, but I really REALLLLLLY wanted to give people the gifts I had gotten for them. And the strain of not blurting it out so they would be filled with the joy I knew was coming their way was fairly overwhelming. I have no idea why I just wrote that in the past tense, as if I'm not still exactly the same way. I love finding just exactly the right thing to give someone. When the time came to finally open presents, it was a relief!

Picture: Baby's 1st Christmas!

5. Present Hunts.
I don't want to give the impression that I didn't like receiving gifts as well as giving them. It just wasn't stressful to receive things. Some of the sweetest presents I ever got came at the end of a long, riddle-filled treasure hunt laid out by my mom. She would put the starting clue in the box, wrap it, and put it under the tree. Then I'd have to figure out the clues, find the next clue, and eventually end up at the present, which was generally under Mom and Dad's bed. I think my favorite gifts of all time were my red wagon (in which I spent many hours pretending to luge), the Strawberry Shortcake kitchenette (which might not have even been for me, come to think of it...), and my trumpet, complete with lessons! I know we must have been dirt poor, but Christmas never felt like we were. Good on ya Mom and Dad.

6. Christmas Eve Service.
When we were little, Pam and I would be in the Christmas Eve service at church reciting Luke 2:1-20. I still have no idea why we learned it in the King James Version, but we did, and I still know it. And it came to pass in those days...

Picture: the back of this picture says this is Easter, but we looked exactly like this at Christmas.
To this day, I love candle light services. It just doesn't feel like Christmas until you're singing O Holy Night with the soft glow of the candles shining in Mom's ginormous I mean...well, Mom had enormous glasses back in the day, what can I say?
One year, the fire codes changes and it was no longer allowed to have open flames in a building. So John, the music minister, got holder things for the candles that "enclosed" the flame. Christmas was saved!

Picture: John Kennedy and us. Speaking of ginormous glasses...

7. Playing With the Creche Set.

Picture: This was the only picture I could find with the creche set in it. Obviously, coloring is strenuous work.
I think my favorite Christmas tradition was playing with the creche set. After Mom and Dad retired to the back of the house to watch TV, Pam and I would turn off all the lights except the tree lights, and have crazy adventures with the figurines. I know we, personally, destroyed 8 billion pieces of tinsel trying to haul Mary and the big unwieldy baby up into the higher regions of the tree. Special Thanks to Mom for patiently hot gluing the camel's head back on after his neck snapped, and reuniting the sheep with it's foreleg.

Christmas is different now that I'm older.

Picture: A slightly more recent picture. Dang I was skinny! Nice hose Pam...

It's been years since the four of us were all together. It's nice to call and chat, but it's not the same. Still, Christmas is about love and peace and family, and I guess that hasn't changed at all. Oh, and Special Thanks also goes out to Aunt Kathy, who lets us make Monkey Bread.


Mrs. Wallace December 3, 2007 at 1:24:00 PM MST  

In my defense...Those hose were TOTALLY in style!

Bonnie December 3, 2007 at 8:19:00 PM MST  

I'm so glad you stole this idea that I stole from someone else ! It was sooo much fun to read about your traditions and man, those photos were a hoot ! At least I knew you way back when and I know you were both adorable ! Ginormous glasses, "nice" hose and all ! I love the present hunt idea. Will have to do that with the kids this year ! Monkey Bread ... I'd like the recipe ! Just so you have to get organized ! ha ha. No, really, I want the recipe. And (if I manage to remember) I WILL BUY YOU A BUNDT PAN WHEN YOU GET MARRIED ! You may have to remind me though ... unless you get married in the next 24 hours !

Sabba and Nanny December 9, 2007 at 11:25:00 AM MST  

Hey, I was thinking about buying her the bundt cake pan!

Great post, Jill. Loved the photos and the commentary. Feliz navidad.

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.


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