When I was a kid Christmas morning was organized……we were allowed to get our stockings and take them back to bed with us while we waited for Mom and Dad to wake up so we could get to the presents. I remember that we only stayed in our beds for so long before we ended up in their bed waking them up so we could tell them all about the wonderful things we just got in our stockings. They always acted very interested…….as if they didn’t already know what was in them.
Once everyone was up we all had to get dressed and eat breakfast before present opening, talk about drawing out the process. After breakfast we could get to the presents……in an organized fashion. Presents were handed out one at a time and you couldn’t open a present until the last present was opened by whoever was opening it and the gift tag was attached so you could remember who it came from to be able to thank the gift giver later.
For a few years my mom decided to record Christmas morning festivities, audio, not video. After everything was opened we would play the tape and listen to the organized chaos. I remember the one recording where my younger brother was clearly concerned about the Christmas tree lights. No one noticed at the time but the playback was very entertaining…… “Do you want the tree lights on? Do you want the tree lights on or off? Do you want the tree lights left on? Do you want me to turn the tree lights off? Do you want to leave the tree lights on or off? Do you want the tree lights on or off?” Finally, “I’m just going to leave the tree lights on.” That was probably 35 years or so ago and I still remember how funny I thought it was that not one of us was paying any attention to what my brother was saying.
Once all the presents were opened they had to go back under the tree for display. We were allowed to play with any toys and wear any clothes we got as long as we put them back under the tree afterwards. The presents had to stay there until it was time for the tree to be taken down which was generally New Years Day.
I tried to keep some of these traditions with my own family but it didn’t really work out so well, we do a few things differently from the way my parents did.
My kids are allowed to get up and get their stockings but no present touching (haha…..I’m sure there is present touching), just like when we were kids, but everything in their stockings is individually wrapped to make opening the stockings take longer.
Once my husband and I get up the present opening can begin. We don’t need to get dressed or eat breakfast because I need to make sure we are opening presents while it is still dark out to get the full effect of the “tree lights being on”. One at a time each person grabs a present from under the tree, gives it to the person it is for and we all are supposed to politely watch while they open it…..that works for a bit until presents just start getting handed out too quickly. Once all the presents are opened everyone just takes their stuff to their rooms and the tree stands there as if there was never a gift underneath it. I did try to have everyone keep their stuff under the tree but with 2 dogs it wasn’t a good idea.
When our kids were younger they never saw a single present in our house until Christmas morning. All gifts were taken to my husbands work as soon as they were purchased and he and I would go there one evening before Christmas Eve and just blast the Christmas tunes and wrap all the presents. It is a fun tradition for us and a chance to spend some time alone together…..with 4 kids you take your alone time when and where you can get it. After the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve we would drive out to my husbands work and pack the car with all the presents and put them under the tree to get the full shock and awe effect from the kids when they got up in the morning. Now we still keep the gifts at my husband work but we don’t have to wait until they are asleep anymore before we bring the presents home.
I have to say, one of the reasons we don’t keep any presents in our house is due to the “snoop factor”. It’s a possibility that my kids might be just like me…….when I was a kid I found presents hidden in the house and opened them and re-wrapped them again thinking no one would ever notice. My sister once suggested that I was ruining my Christmas by being such a snoop, but she was wrong……I loved everything I opened and couldn’t wait until Christmas morning to open them again. :). Ok so it’s not really because of snoopy kids that we keep the gifts at my husbands work…..it’s more because of me. I would totally still snoop if given the opportunity.
As our kids grow up and leave the nest…..some have already left…..they will develop their own family Christmas traditions. What are some of your family Christmas traditions?