Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Christmas at our house used to be both lavish and simple. It was lavish simply because there were so many of us. All of the brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, would come pouring into the house bearing gifts. Truly, the rug under our tree did runneth over. The jumble of presents literally poured out into the next room. Still, the gifts themselves were modest. Since there were so many of us, we drew names. Each person received one "gift," and then as many stocking stuffers as people had a mind to bring. We would eat dinner, Mama's wonderful cooking. Only after dinner did the real tradition of our household start. The game was tormentor versus victim. Yes, we literally tormented the children. It was a waiting game. The rule was, we couldn't open gifts until after dinner. Dinner was big and we all loved to talk, so it took some time. The children remained on pins and needles. We couldn't get them to concentrate on dinner, for the gifts under the tree called to them like sirens. "Stop talking and start eating!" they would scold. "Aren't you through yet?"

"Oh, no, not at all," we would say. "I believe I'll go back for seconds. I think I could eat another piece of that pie." (The kids would roll their eyes.) It was our payback for the way they pestered when we were trying to eat and converse. The tradition was long held, and I could remember my parents doing the same thing to me.

"You don't want seconds! You're just saying that," they admonished. They were old hands at this. They, too, played the game. Finally, we were stuffed. We really could not hold one more piece of pie. Conversation came to a lull. Then, and only then, did we move into the living room where the opening of presents would begin.

No comments: