Today is Christmas Eve and I'm thinking a lot about my hometown- Amherst, Ohio- and growing up! The holidays are very different now that I've grown up. Even more so since my children are now adults. Presents are mostly cash and gift cards. They have their own lives and commitments. Trying to juggle all their different visits and still getting in time together takes a master planner!
This brings me back to the past... When I was younger, we would have waited by the front window for Dad to get home from Christmas Eve Mass, then piled into the van to head to Grandma and Grandpa Watling's house. Grandma and Grandpa always had a spread for sandwiches and the most delicious Christmas cookies. Grandma had made her famous Sauerkraut Soup (which I never tried...just too scared). We sang songs and opened presents. Driving home in the dark, we "oohhed" and "awwwed" over the Christmas lights on the homes.
When I was older, we would go to our church for a midnight candlelight service. I have so many fond memories of St. John's Church. I grew up there. My family has donated items and their names are on books and pews. There's a display case of my Great Grandfather's World War 1 service. I'd even spent the night in the church with the youth group. The candlelight service is always beautiful and moving. But the Christmas morning service was one for the children. I remember going up on the "stage" to perform skits and sing songs. I remember decorating the giant tree. I even remember then many after funeral lunches we had there, each time a family member passed. Those church members were like a second family and always went all out.
You can see why I have such fond memories of my younger years. They were magical. These days, my holidays are bittersweet. My mom passed away sixteen years ago two days before Christmas. That changed my Christmas. We no longer head down to Ohio for Christmas Eve. We celebrate here instead. It's a much quieter time, especially with the children grown. I'm sure it will change again when grandkids come around.
What are your holiday traditions? What parts do you miss from your childhood? I wish you all the best!
Gator Girl Extraordinaire