As a parent, I have been trying really hard to make sure that I make Christmas memorable and magical for my children. In my quest of making memories, I have been thinking about what Christmas memories stand out for me, so that I can recreate the magic. It's pretty interesting what has come to the surface.
As I dust off the cobwebs, the first first thing that comes to mind is a memory from when I couldn't have been older than 3, or maybe 4. It is vague, but I recall walking down the stairs of our tri-level home and finding "Dapper Dan" and "Dressy Bessy" dolls. They were not wrapped and were just sitting under the tree waiting for me. I loved those dolls and played with them for years--long after I was able to dress Bessy.
The next memory I have is not as pleasant. When I was 5, I was sick with the chicken pox on Christmas.
I remember being confined to the downstairs sofa in front of the TV with plenty of coloring books. I was miserable. My mother would use cotton balls to smother me with calamine lotion and I can still smell that nasty odor and how badly I itched. Although I was extremely itchy, I do remember watching excessive amounts of the Bernstein Bears, but every time my mom would turn her mixer on while she was baking cookies, the picture would go fuzzy. I did get plenty of "poor babies" which made my sisters' eyes roll, but I was loving all the extra attention. I didn't get to unwrap the majority of my presents that year, though. I was just too uncomfortable. Isn't it amazing that my children will never have to deal with the chicken pox because of a vaccine? Or the fact that they will never understand that we didn't have cable and that the TV actually went fuzzy went you turned on a mixer?
The next year, I recall a little incident in which I pretended to be sick at school because I wanted to be home when my mom was decorating our Christmas tree. I guess my mom just wanted to get things done that year and didn't want to be bothered by four children's idea of "help," so she opted to do it while were all in school. I very distinctly remember going to the school nurse and telling her that I needed to go home. When she asked if I was sick, I lied and said my tummy hurt. Instead of being able to go home and help with the decorations, however, I was forced to stay in my bed, because "after all I was sick." That was a hard lesson learned.
I have sporadic memories too, ones that I am not sure how old I was, or what year it might have been. Like baking peanut butter cookies with my grandma (although I guess I had to be very young, because she passed away when I was 5). I thought I was a big shot because I got to use a fork to smooch down the cookie dough.
I remember hanging red stockings, with my sister, Penny, on the railing entering our home; making Christmas wreath decorations out of cotton balls to hang on my Grandfather's tree; having my sister, Kelly, pull me through the snow on our old-fashioned sled; saving my morning milk money in order buy Christmas gifts for my family, being excited that my oldest sister, Gail, was coming home to spend the night on Christmas Eve, the tin-foil "reflectors" my mom made for the lights on our Christmas tree, The Oak Ridge Boys tickets we got as a gift for the whole family, singing Christmas carols at my grandmother's house, my Mom's cookies, and my Dad making breakfast.
So, I guess I don't need to stress anymore about making memories for my kids. They will have good ones and bad ones, just like I have. What matters is that they are surrounded by family, just like I was.