As an empty nester, I dwell on all those memories from Christmas' past. YEA for memories, it beats the heck at of living it all over again.
My adorable blonde kid had his own unique flare to the yuletide season. Actually, it was more of a torture for a single mom on a budget. I had a friend, well, we are still friends, would start calling me 2 weeks before Christmas to find out the lastest "tradition". My friends thought it was just too cute. It was more on the lines of extreme torture.
Taking a stroll: (this is how our tradition which developed into traditions started)
It all started a day before Christmas Eve. He was somewhere between 3 and 4. He decided that Santa needed a Christmas gift, all wrapped up with a "pretty" bow, in "pretty" paper with a name tag that said "to: santa from:us". Yes, this is the truth. My son would let me know if Santa was to wrap presents or just leave them unwrapped under the tree with or without nametags. I specialize in "pretty" bows, no packaged bows at my house. I love the Christmas Season and make every single effort to make it special. So, that Christmas, on a very tight budget, agreed to this. We will just paint Santa a painting, wrap the darn thing up and put it under the tree. My kid agreed, it would indeed be a very special gift. We wrapped it and his, my son's, instructions were "make it where he can see it." It had the esteem spot of center stage under the tree. The only draw back to that was, I had to remember to remove the present on Christmas Eve night. Well I forgot that first Christmas, but, somehow managed to slide it under the couch without hawk eye seeing then put it in a closet where I found it 2 years later.
Then the next Christmas he decided the reindeer needed something as well. He has been exposed to way too many horses and farm animals. He requested hay and a bucket of water just in case they were thirsty and hungry. I explained to the blonde headed monster that I adorned and cherished that I didn't really know the dietary habits of reindeer, so we had better just leave a bucket of water. I told him the hay may make the reindeer ill and he, along with other children would not receive toys because the reindeer would have to go back to the North Pole due to illness. He agreed. HENCE, a bucket of water sat out at the front door. The problem, yeah you guessed it probably, I had to remember to dump the bucket and make it look like they enjoyed it.
So, lets recap, we have the traditional cookies and milk, a gift all wrapped up pretty with a name tag and a bucket of water for the reindeer.
Then the next Christmas he asked, "Momma, why doesn't Santa bring my momma any presents?". I gathered together my thought process and explained, "Santa doesn't come to parents.". He asked, "Why", the whys went on for a while. Finally I said, "Well, maybe it's because your momma may not have been good." I really thought I nailed that one. His thought process kicked in, he turned those big blue eyes up to me and said, "well then, if Santa doesn't bring my momma any gifts (notice the plural), then I don't want any." So that meant one thing, go buy "my momma" some Santa stuff. He also requested somewhere in that conversation, they all had to be wrapped in pretty bows, paper and name tags.
Now we have, the traditional cookies and milk, a gift for Santa, a bucket of water for the reindeer and presents for "my momma" from Santa.
That is how our tradition, well, became our tradition.
Now you know the sordid background.
Cookies were baked and passed out to all my neighbors. If I didn't bring them cookies, they knocked on my door wanting to know where the heck were their Christmas cookies.
Now comes Christmas Eve. Because I didn't grow up in a Christian home, I was more than determined to raise my son in one. We would dress up in our Christmas best, yes, I forced him to put on a cute little suit complete with snap on neck tie or snap on bow tie, whatever my mood was that year, we would dash off to our Christmas Eve Candlight Service, go tour the Christmas lights around the neighbor, come back home and I would read the REAL and true Christmas story followed by the Santa story. We always had a cupcake with a candle and sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Then we would take all the family Christmas presents from under the tree and my son would dictate where each one should be placed on the couch to make way for Santa's stuff. The traditional Santa cookies and milk would be placed in their proper spot right in the middle of the coffee table, Santa's gift was put right in front of the tree and a bucket of water placed right by the front door so they (the reindeer) could see it. Then the Christmas Carols would be sung. I would convince him he could not sleep anywhere by the tree. NO, he could not see Santa, and NO, he could not watch the reindeer drink their water.
We would curl up in bed, prayers being said, and I would silently pray that I would not fall asleep so I could be Santa. I would sneek out of bed, very quietly go downstairs and the fun began. First and foremost, I left notes to myself on where all the toys were hidden. Several years, I would find stuff throughout the year. I made sure toys were assembled, batteries all worked and you know how it goes. That should have enough right? WRONG! Not with my kid. I had to make sure it looked like Santa ate the cookies (crumbs had to be left on the plate - I promise this was from previous Christmas' past), drank the milk, remove the Santa present, go outside and dump the Reindeer's water bucket and then, leave a thank you to my son from Santa for the gift, the water for the reindeer and for the milk and cookies (you probably guess it - from previous Christmas experiences). The kid really expected it.
Christmas morning he would find my present from Santa and walk it over to me and say "you first my momma". So I had to open it and act as surprised as I could, then after he carefully inspected it, after all it had to meet my kid's approval, he would start his Christmas.
His presents were always wrapped, well when requested, with some sort of cartoon stuff. Mine, we'll I sort of got into the spirit, wrapped in foil with glitter and all that stuff.
This is really the way it was at my house. He still calls me "my momma".
My advice, write down all these precious memories. I've had 7,665 days since all that happened. Memories can be taken away from other factors in this thing we call life. There is a lot of living that goes on between the minute the child is born and the time they decide to be grown ups and start their own lives.
Everything a child does is priceless. It may not seem like it at the time but it is. Write it down, so 20, 30 or more years down the lane, you can open that notebook and let that smile come across your face as your memory has been jogged. It's enjoyable many years down the road. Now I see the humor in it all.
Enjoy every single moment, ignore the bad, get thru the trying and enjoy those precious children.
Do I suffer Empty Nest Syndrome, my answer "HELL NO", I'm now enjoying my life.