Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Generational Christmas

Have you ever wondered what Christmases past were like? This year I was thinking about my family's traditions and the obvious nostalgia that comes with this time of year and I got curious. So I made an opportunity to sit down to lunch with my maternal grandmother and my mom and I asked them some questions. Some answers surprised me, some didn't. But here in this blog post you'll find some serious Christmas talk from three generations! Enjoy!

Favorite Christmas Flavor?

Grandma: Cinnamon because of homemade cinnamon rolls that I've loved for forever.

Mom: Mulled cider.

Me: Peppermint mocha hands down.

White lights or colored?

Grandma: I like colored lights.

Mom: This is a bad year because I'm starting to rethink that! I've always said that white lights are the traditional for me but I'm starting to like colored. But white lights as long as they are not LED.

Me: White all the way. They're just classic and you can leave them for the month of January because they'll blend in with the snow!

Favorite Christmas activity?

Grandma: My favorite Christmas activity is going to the barn. That just touches me so deeply every year.

Mom: After the Advent candles, it's sitting in front of the Christmas tree with a cup of coffee.

Me: I love putting up the tree. We make it a big deal here and make hot chocolate and break out the Christmas music for the first time. It's so festive and get's me so excited for all the other things we do!

Specifically, what is one song that sends you back to your childhood Christmas?

Grandma: Silent Night when I was really little because the kids always sang it. We had a children's department and we sang before Sunday School and all the little kids sang Silent Night. Now, as I started being able to stay up and go to Christmas Eve services, the late ones rather than the family ones, Oh Holy Night. To me that was beautiful because it was an instrumental and vocal they always had in my home church. 

Mom: Angels We Have Heard On High because I can still hear my dad harmonizing in my head.

Me: Sleigh Ride by Harry Connick Jr. 

- What is one Christmas gift you will always remember?

Grandma: The Christmas gift I remember everything about the whole thing. I was 10 years old and my Aunt Ethel, the librarian, bought me my own leather-bound Bible with my name embossed on it. And it's been rebound a couple of times since, but it just emotionally moved me then, even as a kid.

Mom: Oh I know. It was a doll. She had on a green plaid outfit and red hair and the reason why I wanted her was because she had the ponytail thing that you could pull out and make it longer. And it's that thing of like, there are whole Christmases in my life that I couldn't pick one particular thing I got, but for some reason I wanted that doll and I got it and it just... made my childhood for some reason. 

Me: One that I remember, not really for a good reason. I remember one year when I got a Barbie carriage. I was ecstatic and Garrett broke it on Christmas day. 

Is there a certain food you remember your mom always making for Christmas?

Grandma: Christmas Eve growing up, when we were little we went to early family service, we had oyster stew and it was not our favorite. We always had to take a no-thank-you portion and we tended to eat crackers. But the thing of it was, that the only time that land locked Monon had oysters available was at Christmas and it was part of people's traditions. In that area, that was everybody's traditional Christmas Eve meal.

Mom: I don't have anything that stands out that I remember. I remember some foods but not tied to Christmas particularly. We lived at church on Christmas Eve! We went to like all the services so I'm sure we had something but I have more memories of being at church on Christmas Eve and doing different things than what we ate.

Me: Christmas morning, Mom always made sticky rolls. As a kid, it made it okay that we had to wait a few hours for the next round of presents.

What are one or two Christmas traditions that you brought with you when you married?

Grandma: Oranges in the stockings. We also did Santa Clause the same way. Santa Clause as I grew up and then with your mom and Uncle George, Santa Clause put out the gifts. Mom and Dad wrapped their gifts. There were no wrappings on Santa presents.

Mom: Definitely the Advent wreath. That is the big one for me. That was important. I was like "If we don't do this, it is not Christmas!"

Me: Dearest Carl and I do an Advent wreath for two reasons. One, both our families did that at Christmas and two, my parents made it really easy by including one in our wedding gift. Also, since my mom always made Christmas morning sticky rolls, I had to go find my own recipe. So Dearest Carl and I now eat sticky rolls too!

Is there some part of the Christmas of your younger days that you miss now?

Grandma: I miss this so much every December. Your grandpa used to play in ten different churches around town, play in their ensembles, in their programs and their pagents. He was in the philharmonic orchestra, but he knew so many musicians and they all wanted to him to come play at their churches and Christmastime. But I went to so many churches because I would go with him. It was... it was a wonderful life!

Mom: A candlelight service, I miss that.

Me: I miss being a kid at Christmas. When you're a kid there's this glow around the whole month of December. Trees are bigger, the anticipation for presents is almost unbearable, you get to stay innocent of all the consumerism and there's always that "what if..." about Santa. I feel like Christmas has lost a little magic since I became an adult.

Thank you Grandma Jeri and Mom for spending a little time with me and answering my questions!

So, have I got you thinking? Are you suddenly curious about what your grandparent's Christmases were like? I hope so. The opportunity to ask is just three sleeps away! I'm sure they'll enjoy telling you too!


  1. Love. Love. Love. this is so sweet!!!!!

  2. I wonder if Jeri remembers the cinnamon rolls because our grandmother, Goldia Smith, made them. My mom, Jeri's Aunt Ebbie, made them too.