Like many of you, my childhood was full of innocent magic and intriguing wonder when it came to celebrating the holidays. Our family tradition each year was to drive to my mom’s parents’ house in Huntsville, AL. It was “had to sleep on the couch” small but we loved it.
Ah, the memories. Here are eleven of the most random, funny, weird ones that come to mind when I think of our Christmas trips to north Alabama:
1) Our grandparents always making a point to stay up late waiting on us to arrive so that we could decorate the freshly cut tree with the tackiest silver tinsel and the most mismatched lights you could imagine. Also, our grandmother would gift us with a, fresh from the oven, sour cream pound cake on the kitchen counter upon our arrival. We made art and got fat. It was fabulous!
2) Our grandfather announcing his departure to his bedroom for the night and dropping his drawers in the doorway for all of us to see. It was funny until one Christmas he forgot that he wasn’t wearing underwear. Three words: saggy…white…buns.
3) Lots of UFO stories: My granddad had held distinguished positions within the Huntsville NASA location (seriously, he was a big deal) and my dad grew up in rural farming country. They had both seen some stuff. I mean, both of those combinations are recipes for little green alien material. They bonded. Good times. My brother and I love sci-fi as a direct result.
4) Once again…our grandfather waking up every morning before the sun came out, turning on his night-light that illuminated the entire living room (this was our bedroom – little house remember) and then turning up the TV volume so that it could be heard in every room. He was a “little” hard of hearing. My brother got the brunt of it though. His assigned couch was right next to the light AND the TV.
5) My brother and I waking up every hour to see if Santa had come. How Saint Nick ever snuck those gifts in unscathed by us I’ll never know. Once we discovered that we were, in fact, on the “Nice” list, we opened our stockings, harassed the entire family to wake up starting at 5:00am and counted our gifts over and over to make sure Santa was an equal opportunity gift giver. Interestingly enough, I don’t remember my early rising grandfather ever being up with us in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Oh the irony…
6) There was one December that I realized I was the favorite grandchild (sorry boys). I was the only granddaughter and my grandfather NEVER told me “no.” I asked for a whistle one Christmas and Santa didn’t deliver. Therefore, he drug me all over creation trying to find me one. Here’s a little secret: I really didn’t want the whistle. I told him it was okay. He felt so bad but all I really wanted to do was cruise the driveway in my plastic skates.
7) The “Dumb and Dumber” moment. One Christmas it snowed. My brother got so excited that he licked the ice on the car bumper and got his tongue stuck to it. Food didn’t taste so well to him that trip since he left half of his taste buds on the front of my grandmother’s Buick.
8) There was that one Christmas I spent in the ER (or at least in a doc in the box). I don’t remember the details but the ER sounds more exciting. I experienced respiratory distress and O2 deprivation due to asthma. Sporting purple lips and eyelids was a wakeup call. My grandparents smoked back then. Shortly thereafter, they quit. The favorite grandchild. Wink wink.
9) Ice skating! It was our tradition to attempt half turns, spins and backwards skating at least once every Christmas visit. One of us always went home with a bun bruise but it was so worth it.
10) Butterbeans: My grandfather sang this song “Just a bowl of butterbeans” and he would yell out to my grandmother from the living room to where she was in the kitchen. There was no “Hey honey. Can you please bring me my food?” Oh no. He would scream at the top of his lungs “Heyyyy Wooommm!” My quiet little grandmother who rarely spoke would annoyingly yell back, “Whhhattt?!” Hilarious. He always asked for more pepper after she had already smothered his food in it.
11) Opening up a boxed gift adorned with air holes from my Aunt. I had begged for a fur ball. She delivered alright! That cat instantly jumped out of the box as soon as I released the handle. Let’s just say the cat was just as excited as I was because it was covered in POO! “Yay! A kitty!” I chased her down, picked her up and consequently got the poo all over ME. We both got baths. I fittingly named her “Brownie.”
So there you have it: eleven things that I remember about my childhood Christmases.
All of our Christmas memories had been in my grandparents’ little two bedroom home up until my college years when major life events altered our traditions. Remember to cherish your memories, cultivate new traditions and celebrate your own family’s personal brand of weirdness as we do.
And have a very Merry Christmas!