Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas is started!

When I was a kid one of our family traditions was to start getting ready for Christmas on December 1. Sometimes we would sneak in a little listen to Christmas music in late November, but for the most part, we started our Christmas celebrations on the 1st. On the evening of December 1, we all gathered together in the living room. Some of us helped Dad drag our fake Christmas tree up the basement stairs and into the living room, while others pulled out a pile of our favourite Christmas CDs and popped the first one into the CD player. Christmas music set the mood while Dad worked on putting the tree in the stand, and the rest of us went downstairs to bring up our boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations out of storage. We went through the hundreds - it seemed - of strings of Christmas lights, searching for the newer ones that still worked and had the least amount of burned out bulbs. Then Dad wound them around the tree as Mum organized where to put the different special holiday decorations. Once the lights were on on the tree, we each opened our own box of ornaments, the ones my mum and grandma had given to each of us every year since we were born. Stories and memories flowed between us as we carefully took ornaments out of their boxes and found the perfect places to hang them on the tree. Once all the ornaments were hung, one person was selected to put the gold tinsel star on the top. Dad put the lucky person on his shoulders and leaned close to the tree and he or she set the star on the top sprig. Then, with ceiling lights off and just the twinkling of the coloured Christmas lights to illuminate the darkened room, we would perch on couches or beside the blazing fire and sip hot chocolate all stirred around with candy canes and listen as Mum read us Christmas stories. It was magical. The whole family stopping to take a breath from the busyness of everyday life and all working together to transform the house into a place of wonder and excitement.
Q kids in 1992 or 1993 (Haha, look at me thinking I'm so hilarious wearing my stockings & Bryn trying to copy me!)
The first year I went to college, we had to change our longstanding tradition of starting Christmas on December 1. I begged my family to wait to set up the tree until I got home after exams. They agreed and for the most part, we went through the same wonderful process of changing our house from a fall haven to a winter wonderland. By that time, my younger siblings had grown out of their asthma, and we could again go up in the mountains surrounding our city to pick out a live Christmas tree to cut down. Even though we had an abbreviated holiday time, we still packed in all the same traditions.
Getting our Christmas tree in 2009 (Mum's taking the picture)
The past two years, I haven't had even that abbreviated time to celebrate with my family. I've been overseas, doing interesting work and quite enjoying myself. But always, when December 1 rolls around, I feel like something is missing. That joyous occasion of stopping whatever we're doing individually and all coming together to make Christmas come to life.
Christmas Day 2010 - Bryn and me Skyping the rest of the family from Cairo, Egypt
Christmas 2011 in Cheonan, South Korea - Our first Christmas as a married couple!
This year, I again won't have that, at least not on December 1, but I have been able to take part in Jonathan's family's traditions. We hung the outside lights, we helped take boxes out of the attic, his mom told us stories about the different ornaments they have as she took them out of the boxes. And now the living room downstairs is a little bit of Christmas away-from-home! I love it! And, the best part about this year is that I get to experience it all again in a few more weeks when I go home and help my family put up our Q-Christmas tree. Two starts to Christmas this year! Could I be any luckier?! I really don't think I could be!
Kitchen ready for Christmas
Window ornaments
Hanging stockings
Lighted present (made by Jonathan's grandma)
Pretty colourful tree

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