My family has always been big on Christmas. When I was growing up we weren’t poor, but money was tight. Though we didn’t get alot throughout the year, my parents firmly believed that Christmas was special. No matter where we spent Christmas Eve, Christmas morning we were all in the living room opening presents. None of this hustle and bustle stuff. You had to wait for each name to be called one by one. That’s probably where we learned patience, since their were seven family members, and any additions who showed up Christmas morning.
We got something from Santa and then their were three presents under the tree from our parents. Usually, it was a mixture of toys and clothes. My Mom always made sure our stockings were filled.
As adults we’ve tried to maintain family togetherness during the holiday season. We’ve tried to hold on to some traditions and make some of our own.
Usually about two weeks before Christmas my Dad and I have everyone over to decorate our tree. My nieces and nephew enjoy having an extra tree to do up. I always give each of the kids an ornament which they can put on the tree or take home for their own. We usually bake cookies, make paper snowflakes, and try our hand at God’s Eyes.
We have an unusual topper for our tree. It’s a large holiday Bullwinkle stuffed animal. It started out as a joke, to make fun of a family member who wanted a serious tree. Now if we don’t sit Bullwinkle up there someone gets offended. It’s sort of like King Kong on the Empire State Building, but that’s part of the fun!
Just like when we were kids, no matter where one spends Christmas Eve or Christmas Dinner, they must be at Grandpa’s house by 9 am Christmas morning. Grandpa sits by the tree and his elves, one of the grandkids, helps him hand out presents. We still do it one by one which can take a couple of hours since there are now 14 of us.
After presents, we have breakfast together. Some of pass that up to play, I mean test, the new toys that the kids got. You wouldn’t want a kid to have a broken toy, would you?
Though we’ve all grown up and have families of our own, we make sure that we share these traditions together. Hopefully, it will create wonderful memories for our children, and then they’ll makes sure the generations celebrate together as well.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com