Christmas traditions were, and continue to be, very important for me and my family. I have a close-knit family with five (5) brothers and three (3) sisters. Over the years our celebrations grew with spouses, significant others, children and even grandchildren. I am particularly nostalgic this year with the pandemic and the related isolation we have all endured. Some of my favorite Christmases were when my kids were young, and they were surrounded by many of their cousins and my parents and siblings.
Our tradition then was to open a few presents and a stocking at my home. Memorable presents in years past were golden retrievers which, in different years, were each briefly in a wrapped box, under the tree.
We would then head to the family home on the ranch for the extended family to celebrate together. This would be a pretty large group – never quiet and never boring. Humorous stocking stuffers and gag gifts were always appreciated. Lots of excited kids and activity. One memory that stands out is when my mom gave all the grandkids fireman helmets/hats that each had a flashing light and siren – seven (7) grandkids running around each with a loud siren… We started a betting pool as to which of my brothers or sisters would remove the battery in their kids’ helmet first.
The kids and I would stay at the ranch and then head to Squaw Creek at Tahoe to toboggin, ski/snowboard, and celebrate the New Year. The kids learned to ski there. At least one day during the trip, the mountain would close due to high winds or weather. We stayed in the room playing board games. One year we watched together an eight (8) hour marathon of the detective show called Monk while we played board games in our pajamas. It felt very much like playing hooky from school or work. As I look back, those are some of my favorite Christmas memories.