When I saw this contest come up today, it instantly brought a smile to my face! Christmas has always been by far and away my favorite holiday, and the memories I shared with my parents, and now with my children, are something I will cherish for the rest of my days.
The festivities always got started the day after Thanksgiving, when we would go out together and find the perfect tree. Dad would have to hold them up while Mom and I walked around inspecting each potential candidate for bare spots or damage. Then we'd strap our selection to the roof, bring it home, and get to decorating! Mom isn't the biggest Christmas fan, but she always got a kick out of playing her classic cassette tape of Elvis Christmas songs while we strung up the lights and hung the ornaments.
Leading up to the big day, the whole family would pile up in the car at least once a week to ride around and find the best holiday light display. We especially liked the houses that would sync their lights to an AM radio station - we'd sit out in front of these strangers homes and listen to at least a song or two! But the best neighborhood was always reserved for our Christmas Eve drive. My dad told me that Santa liked to stop at our house first every year, so we had to leave after Christmas Eve dinner to go for a longer than usual light search to give the big guy time to drop off the presents. It took me more years than I'll admit to figure out that that was the ONE time each year where my dad would somehow "forget" his wallet or his hat or keys, and have to run back inside and take way too long to find it! After he FINALLY found his stuff and we rode the streets for a while, Mom and Dad would both point up and swear they'd seen Santa zooming away from our neighborhood, and we would hurry home to open our gifts.
My Dad is a hardcore jokester, so the unwrapping was always a laugh. He would send me on scavenger hunts all through the house, or wrap the present and cover every seam with tape so it was near impossible to get in. He loved to buy jewelery for my mom, and would put a tiny pair of earrings in the biggest box he could find and load the bottom up with weights to confuse her. The process was almost more fun than the gifts!
Now, I'm a parent with kids of my own, and I'm maintaining those old traditions, and implementing new ones, too. Our new favorite memory are our weekly baking sessions! Everything doesn't always turn out picture perfect, but we love spending the time together and having a special holiday box of goodies to snack on for the month!