As a mom, I want Christmas to be perfect. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything done and to do it well.
But, as a kid, I don't think I ever expected Christmas to be perfect. I just loved this time of year when everyone in my family stopped being so busy with their ordinary tasks and just enjoyed spending time together.
Here are a few random and precious memories of my Christmases past:
1) My mom, her sister Roberta, and my grandma "Honey" telling stories at the kitchen table. The more they talked, the harder they laughed. I remember my Aunt Bert with tears streaming down her face trying to make them stop talking so she could get her breath and stop cracking up.
2) One year my dad had the flu. We also had a house full of relatives. I remember my aunt and mom bundling my dad up and propping him with pillows next to the tree. Feverish and flushed, my dad was not his usual self - but my aunt kept teasing him - and we all loved him back to health.
3) My Grandma Storms gave the worst Christmas gifts ever. She was known to wrap up "used" gifts. One year I received a pair of men's overalls with the name "Jeff" written in black sharpie on the reverse side of the bib. She said I could wear them when I went camping. Our family would compete to see who could come up with the most creative "thank yous" for those gifts.
4) Every Christmas at Grandma Storms would feature take-away bingo and molasses cookies. My Uncle Ken would always try to win the not-so-cleverly wrapped up onion that my grandma put in as one of the prizes.
5) When I was very young, Christmas at my grandma and grandpa's (Honey and Papa's) would always include a Christmas pageant. I spent many hours practicing the drama with my older cousins and wearing bath towels on our heads as costumes.
6) In high school, I still hadn't lost my enthusiasm for Christmas morning. One year, I woke Julie (age 8) and Tim (age 13) up at 3 am to open our stockings and see our Santa gifts. My dad came down to ask, "What in the world was I thinking?" and sent us back to bed.
My dad playing Christmas carols on the piano. My mom's amazing marinated olive salad and Christmas roast. The Ben Franklin stove with a log burning and Johnny Cash's family Christmas album playing in the background.
These are Christmas memories I will always treasure. Not perfect to anyone but me.