The thing about my grandmother is, she always went all out for Christmas. Their house was always decorated to the hilt--a huge Christmas tree with ornaments that I could spend forever looking at, their picture window decorated with snowflake clings, another smaller, fiber-optic tree, and other snowflake ornaments, and wreaths, jingle bells, and anything else you could possibly imagine all around the house. Her and my grandfather would get up at 6am to start cooking and baking--my family and I had turkey and ham sandwiches for the next week or so, at least.
We’d open gifts at my home first, get a chance to play around with them or whatever it was that we wanted to do for a few hours before heading over to my grandparents’ house. My mother would head to the kitchen to chat with my grandmother as she continued to get dinner ready, and my brother and I would head to the living room to sit and watch what sports game was on with my uncle. Or, if we were lucky enough to arrive before he did, we’d watch cartoons or whatever was on that interested us at the time. We’d also sit right near the tree, and my brother would be the one poking around through the gifts to see which ones were for us, and how big they were. We could always pick out the ones that had just clothes in them, too, because they were wrapped in the flat boxes--we were only wrong about it a few times, when my grandmother decided to prove us wrong and put a new video game or CD inside.
Once my uncle and, sometimes my father, arrived at the house, we’d impatiently wait for everyone to gather in the living room before dinner to open gifts. We had the option to eat dinner first, but with two impatient children in the house, it wasn’t often that we took that option. My brother always appointed himself to handing out the gifts, and once we had the piles in front of us, we all dug in.
After that, we cleaned up the wrapping paper and said our ‘thank yous’ to everyone in the room before heading into the kitchen for dinner. My uncle would never let me eat in peace--and still doesn’t--by poking me, or putting foods on my plate that he knows I don’t like. That’s more of a tradition than anything else. He will now follow me around the table and wait until I sit down so that he can sit next to me, just for that purpose. It doesn’t help that everyone humors him and will purposely leave the last two seats that are next to each other empty. I escaped during dessert, when I could opt to eat in the living room or at the very least, choose a different seat.
With dinner and dessert finished, my grandmother, grandfather and mother would clear off the table and clean the kitchen while the rest of us went to the living room. MY brother and I found some new toy that we’d just been gifted with while my Uncle and father would watch some kind of game. We’d stay there until everything seemed clean, then head for home.
Those were our Christmas traditions. They may not have been anything spectacular, but they were ours.
Unfortunately, my grandmother has since passed away, and as you can imagine, things haven't been the same.