Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Presents!

What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Favorite gifts?  Well, I think it was the ColecoVision we got when I was younger.  We never went to the store for those crazy sales, but there was my dad standing outside Boscov's (I think it was Boscov's...maybe K-Mart...I'll have to see if he remembers) with us kids in tow and maybe 50 other people lined up at the door as well.  The doors opened and he was off!  There was a limited supply and darn it, his kids were getting a Coleco!  Go Dad!

Tearing through the aisles he got to electronics elbowing old ladies on his way (or not, but it sounds more dramatic).  Other parents racing as well, but he trained for this all week...and his training paid off.  He seized the box and went to the checkout line.  As it turns out the mad dash to electronics was unnecessary. There were three boxes left after all was said and done.  It diminished Dad's victory a bit, but we kids didn't care.  WE WERE GETTING A COLECO!!!!  We got Zaxxon, Smurfs and a couple other video games that Christmas.  Smurf was pretty lame, but we enjoyed killing the Smurf in various ways when things got a bit boring!  We also were apparently not the only ones that instead of walking up to Smurfette at the end, would try jumping on her head instead...

Other Christmas parents would put the presents in piles in the living room.  They weren't under the tree, just in the same room as the tree.  I kind of followed this "pile" tradition that my parents set, but the piles are under the tree for the majority of the stuff (excluding any particularly large presents).  We also take turns opening presents and the kids hand presents to someone other than themselves.  I can't remember if we took turns opening them when I was a kid.  I mean, I was a kid.  I remember opening presents!

I also remember that my parents would hide presents on the second floor of our house.  It was parents hadn't had a tenant (by choice) since the early 1970s.  That was ONE of the hiding spots.  Another was in my parents' closet.  The closet angled down at one end because it was under the second floor's stairs.  They would hide presents back there.  I know I nearly got busted a couple times, but I don't know if they ever figured out that we knew most of the good hiding places.  I'm not sure if my boys have discovered my hiding places or not.

What was your most memorable present?

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Grab Bag - ORNAMENTS!

Better late than never on this one!  I missed the prompt but read so many great blogs on Christmas ornaments that I had to do it!

When I was growing up some of the ornaments were hand-painted, blown ornaments in the shape of pine cones, long icicles, balls with white glitter (you know the stuff that never stayed on the ornament for many years!), and tons of unique ornaments.  Each one of us kids had our own ornaments.  Ones that had been made or purchased for us.  I wish I had those ornaments for my own tree.  Sadly, my father can't find them.  I keep hoping for a Christmas miracle one of these years and I'll get a call telling me that they've been found!  It's hard to express the feeling of being able to put those beloved ornaments onto my very own Christmas tree!

What ornaments did my ancestors have?  Most likely homemade ones and perhaps one or two store-bought ornaments.  I don't know much about my Lithuanian roots, but of my Irish roots I'm a bit more familiar.  Those that came over to America were coal miners.  At least until the 20th century and the decline of King Coal.  Knowing something of the oppressed history of the Pennsylvania coal miner, we can pretty much assume that they did not have tons of money to spend and most likely made their own ornaments.  Now around the time my grandmother, Mary Quirk, was born she lived with her father, several maiden aunts and one uncle (after her mom died in childbirth while trying to have a 2nd child).  Living in such a group with only one child to bring up between them all there was more money.  Well, my mom tells me that her mom was most likely a bit spoiled by them all!  I would imagine that they began purchasing more precious items, and maybe this extended to Christmas tree ornaments. (So mom, again, if you're reading, start writing it down for me!  Keep the memories alive!)

With the longing for, and fond memories of, my own childhood ornaments I've started a tradition with my boys.  Each Christmas everyone gets a new ornament.  This way when my boys grow up and go off on their own, they'll take a little bit of home with them.  I can understand the urge of wanting to keep those ornaments with me to remind me of my children when they've gone, but I'd prefer to have them take a little bit of home with them.  Then fond memories of Christmas and their parents will never be far away!

What ornaments do you put on your tree?