Opinion

December 10, 2013

Misty Watson: A Christmas full of family traditions

I have a rule: No Christmas before Thanksgiving.

I hate seeing Christmas lights, hearing Christmas music and seeing Christmas commercials before the leaves have even fallen off the trees. And it seems like people push the holiday season earlier and earlier each year.

People think that makes me a Scrooge. I get a few “Bah, humbugs” each year in response to my rants.

I’m not anti-Christmas, though. I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays. If you eat chocolate cake every day, how long until you’re tired of chocolate cake? There’s nothing wrong with a little anticipation.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to deck my house out in wall-to-wall Christmas lights. If Chris would let me, I could put Clark Griswold’s display to shame. There’s nothing better than watching a cheesy Christmas movie in the glow of strands of twinkling lights while sipping hot chocolate in my festive pajamas or doing pirouettes in my socked feet while blaring “Jingle Bell Rock.” (Am I the only person who does sock ballet on linoleum floors?)

I look forward to this time of year and all my family traditions, no matter how crazy they may seem.

• Picking out our tree. I love browsing through trees, looking for the one we can squeeze in our tiny living room, figuring out which one can hold some of my heavier ornaments, smelling the trees, figuring out how to rearrange the living room to accommodate a tree that’s actually too big for the space we have, trying to figure out how to get the sap off my hands. (OK, maybe not about the sap.) Now that Fiddleheads Garden Center is open, that’s where we get our tree. They are very fresh and smell terrific.

• Decorating for Christmas. Decorating can begin the Saturday after Thanksgiving and no sooner. As I’m decorating the house, I blare annoying Christmas music loudly, dancing and singing, annoying Chris. My hope is that Sophie will join me this year.

• Driving through the live nativity at Sumach Cumberland Presbyterian Church. When I was younger, I attended Sumach and would sit out in the cold depicting scenes from the Christmas story. I always wanted to be a shepherd. They got to stand by the fire so it was a little warmer. Years I didn’t stand out in the nativity, Mom and Dad would load us up in the car in our pajamas and drive us through to see the nativity, then take us to Flood Town to see the thousands of lights strung through the neighborhood. (Flood Town quit doing the display several years ago, but the memory will always be vivid in my mind.) This year’s nativity is Tuesday, Dec. 17, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

• Helping others. I hesitated to add this one. I’m not being preachy or looking for glory, and no, we don’t have a lot of extra money. I wanted to share the joy you can get by saving up all year to buy a really fantastic Christmas — for a stranger. I’ve done that through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, through being a Secret Santa for the Division of Family and Children Services, through Operation Christmas Child and the Murray County Community Christmas. All are fantastic ways to remind someone else they are loved. And it’s a much bigger blessing to me than receiving a new high-priced gadget I don’t really need.

• Watching the movie “Elf” with Chris, then building a gingerbread house. We started hanging out about this time of year. We were poker buddies first, friends next, then started dating. Two of the activities we did that first year together were watching “Elf” and building a gingerbread house. We’ve done it every year since then. Of course, we could benefit from some lessons on how to achieve a straight wall on the gingerbread house. It’s always lopsided. Maybe Sophie will have better skills.

• Eating pizza on Christmas Eve. When we were younger, we went to my paternal grandparents house early on Christmas Eve to have a chaotic potluck-style, good-luck-finding-a-place-to-sit kind of meal followed by lots of teasing each other and gift-giving. On the way home, my parents always picked up a pizza for us to eat before opening presents. Yes, we opened all presents on Christmas Eve. Santa presents were Christmas morning, and we still had Christmas at my maternal grandparents house to look forward to. Now, as adults, we still go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve to eat pizza, play games, hang out and open presents. Of course, the grandbabies get all the attention now.

• Celebrating Christmas with my husband and daughter. Chris and I stay up, putting together Sophie’s presents and arranging them to be displayed under the tree. Some are wrapped, some are opened and assembled. I cook a good homemade, special breakfast. I have worked a majority of the Christmases that have passed since I started at the newspaper. So Chris and I got in the habit of having Chinese food for lunch since working didn’t leave me with time to cook. We quit eating Chinese food each September in anticipation of our holiday feast. Then we snuggle up on the couch in warm pajamas enjoying the Christmas lights one more time before I pack them away again.

Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can connect with her at mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.

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