Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cherished Holiday Memories

As a child, Christmas seemed to sparkle with magic and excitement. Our long standing tradition was to spend Christmas Eve with my mom's family, which included my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now, as an adult, I realize how hectic Christmas Eve always was for my mom, as she often had to work before the big party, and had to also make time to get things ready at our house for Christmas morning. But it was definitely one of my favorite and most anticipated days of the year. My memories of Christmas Eve are the embodiment of everything my family use to be, years ago, before our lives all went in different directions. We got together and ate and opened presents and just enjoyed being together. Those were good times; some of the best of my childhood.

My own kids have had a very different Christmas experience, in many ways. A long time ago, Chris and I decided to make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day low-key, relaxed days. We didn't want to drag our babies all over the place, making the holidays nothing more than a relay race unintentionally designed to exhaust and overwhelm them. Because we had (and still have) the only grandchildren on all sides, we were in the enviable position of being able to call the shots. Ever since, we have more or less followed a "you come to us" guideline. We wanted the focus to be on the six of us being together, and anyone was welcome to come and enjoy the holidays with us. The past couple years we have been going to Chris's dad's house for Christmas Eve dinner, but even though it's not at our house, it is a very relaxed affair. So we don't have the hustle and bustle of big family get togethers, like I loved so much as a child. But we have our own brand of fun and it works for us.

On Christmas Eve, when we get home from my father-in-law's, we watch a Christmas movie in our basement theater. Elf if always my pick. We put cookies and milk out for Santa. After the kids go to bed, I put together a French toast casserole for the morning, and Chris and I finish up our wrapping, sometimes watching a movie while we wrap. For this portion of the evening, my choice is always Love Actually. Sometimes we go to church, and when we do I prefer to do it on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning, the kids have to come straight to our room to wake us up, before they go off snooping under the tree. I pop the French toast casserole in the oven, and we begin our slow-paced exchange of gifts. There is no gleeful, chaotic digging into the presents. Gifts are doled out one at a time. We open one and notice it and appreciate it before moving on to the next. It takes awhile this way, but we're in no hurry because we're not going anywhere. Throughout the day we have visitors; maybe for breakfast, maybe for lunch, maybe for dinner, or maybe for all three. Chris and I un-package toys, and we all hang out and enjoy our new stuff. It's sort of a lazy, sanguine day, and there's always a few who never even change out of their pajamas. I hope that when they're all grown up, our kids will look back at the Christmases of their youth and remember them sparkling with magic too.

Because I don't have the very best memory, I rely heavily on photographs to help keep my memories fresh and vibrant. Pictures are my memory insurance! I know I'm not alone, so I'd like to tell you about YesVideo. Have you heard of this company? They help people preserve their memories by transferring media to DVD, including old movies, slides, videos, and film. YesVideo also transfers HD video to Blu-ray. Now all of your memories from past and present can be on the same format, easy to access and enjoy anytime! You can either snail mail your media to YesVideo, or you can drop it off at one of four major retailers, including Walmart. Wouldn't this be a wonderful Christmas gift? Please note that Walmart's Christmas deadline has passed (it was December 3), but I know many families have their get togethers after December 25, so it's still worth looking into! And this would be cool enough to be a belated holiday gift. You could print a certificate or letter, letting your gift recipient know that you're making something special for them, but it's not quite ready yet.

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Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by YesVideo. All opinions are my own.

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