Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Musings: Our family tradition

Our "family" tradition only started about three years ago, once my daughter was old enough to really know and get into the Christmas spirit.

There is something wonderful in the eyes of a young child around this time of year and my wife and I have been fostering the cheer in our own little one – it’s just so much fun for us all even when she gets out of control excited to the point of frazzling our nerves. Still, you gotta love em!

And so sprang the “family tradition” (since we are a family now not just a couple) which we will now follow until she moves out of the house and goes off to University or other.

But for the next bunch of years – here is what we do on the first Saturday of December.

We try to sleep in, but our daughter is up before seven no matter what. And now that Christmas I around the bend she rises even earlier and immediately starts with the excitement. And this Saturday past, she knew was tree trimming day – so, springing out of bed and getting dressed she rushed into our bedroom to inform us that it was morning – like we don’t know. But it is so cute to have her telling us. And it is still dark out at that time, but that doesn’t stop her. She is really good at reading clocks now. “It is 7:10!” she tells us in her get-out-of-bed tone.

So up we all get, excited as well (how can it not rub off daughter and onto us? – like magic excitement dust) and make a breakfast we eat together. Nothing special about the breakfast except the anticipation of lunch – which we have at---

--- Mandarin restaurant. Let me explain about this place a little. First it is an all-you-can-eat buffet and there is a ton of choice, literally (and most of it deep fried – yummy). It’s a Chinese place, but the food is rather on the fast food side – and yes you can even get French fries or Onion rings too.

So we load up plate number one (of about four or so) and begin to pig out. My wife usually takes the health food items, but my daughter and I head straight for the chicken balls and hair-gel sauce.

After that first foray, we next load up on these green beans with sesame seed sauce and a beef asparagus dish I can’t do justice in describing. It’s really, really tasty. (There, now we have done the vegetable thing) Oh, then after being good, it’s back to being bad and I eat loads of pork ribs, breaded shrimp, and more chicken balls and – you get the picture. My meal is about half good (veggies), half bad (deep fried) but easily twice as much as I need to eat – in a week.

And for desert – Jell-O, of course. That after I have a few token slices of watermelon. And the Jell-O is my daughter’s favorite too. They have green and orange. I like the orange best. I can’t really tell what flavor they are supposed to be, so they are best left described as colors – and they are vibrant. I use a fork to eat my Jell-O with, but my daughter uses her hands. And who cares – it’s all great fun. Oh, and this is the part where my finally wife eats the bad stuff – cakes and cookies and such, But hey, it’s only once a year.

After lunch we head over to the Mall. You can actually park since it’s not fully Christmas crazy rush time. Inside the Mall we go and check out the pet store. We watch the puppies and birds and rats (really, they have rats) and fish. Afterwards we go over to the huge Chapters bookstore (yes we all read in our family very, very much). This is like kid in the candy store time for us all. Easily an hour goes by and then, my wife and I are nagged enough by our daughter, and it is time to head home and put up the tree.

We have an artificial tree that is pre-strung with lights. Many, many lights – but white only and no blinkers. We also have three strings of colored lights as well to accent the already blazing tree. My job is to assemble the tree and put in the lights – then my daughter and wife put on the decorations. It is so much fun for my daughter and I can recall back to my own childhood doing much the same thing. There is something magical in putting up a tree.

After the tree is all together and we comment on its beauty and how much cozier the living room looks now – it’s Christmas video time. And the videos we watch are, of course, are “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”.

I can’t decide which one I like most, but edge toward Charlie’s Christmas just a bit. They are both absolutely excellent though and even after forty years they still hold up as the greatest Christmas specials ever done.

Then, when the final credits role we just sit and hug and enjoy ourselves and are thankful.

Supper consists of scrounging – which means not eating much. And who can after all the excitement and Chinese buffet. Then we do some quiet reading on the couch and our little one is off to bed.

And we have to wait another year to do it all over again.

And that’s one of our family Christmas traditions.

We have another tradition on Christmas Eve Day - but that will be another post I’ll share later this year.
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