Saturday, December 20, 2014

FAMILY CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

I thought it might be fun to record some of the Christmas traditions of my family...

My mother, Elsie Vos Hillier, knitted Christmas stockings for all of her children, then for all our spouses, and then for all of her grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  Eventually, her eyesight became too poor to continue knitting -- so I took over.  I knitted, from the same pattern, stockings for my daughters-in-law and my granddaughter.  They are all alike and we all use them every year.  Santa even fills the adult stockings!

My mother came from a family of 9 children, 8 of whom lived to be adults, and 7 of whom had children.  A big family!  We always got together at my Grandma and Grandpa Vos' house in Santa Monica the Saturday before Christmas (and, after my Grandma died, at the homes of other family members).  There were too many of us to buy gifts for everyone so, on my Grandpa's birthday in October (another occasion for a gathering), we drew names.  Each adult drew the name of another adult and each child drew the name of another child.  So everyone got a gift and it was not a burden for anyone.  

This same grandfather died on Christmas Day in 1969 at the age of 90.  He died of pneumonia.  If he hadn't caught a virus, he might have lived longer.  He was deaf and blind but perfectly healthy otherwise.  It is sad to lose someone on Christmas Day.

My father, Rus Hillier's, side of the family got together on Christmas Day at my Aunt Roberta's home in Los Angeles.  She always had both turkey and ham -- and she always had a birthday cake for the baby Jesus.  My Uncle Chuck always said long-winded prayers.  I can remember, on the way to Aunt Roberta's every year, my dad would remark, "I hope Chuck doesn't say the grace this year!"  We all knew what he meant!

I used to be sick every Christmas -- and my family finally figured out that I was just too excited!  I'm still that way -- always excited about Christmas!

Back to the Christmas stockings -- we had traditions...  There were always tangerines and walnuts among the other gifts.  We always got new tooth brushes in our stockings -- and we still do at my house!  The girls in the family always got a doll and, when we got older, it was a token doll that would fit in our stocking.  I still have all of my dolls packed in a box somewhere in the garage.  I will always give a doll to my granddaughter, continuing the tradition.

We always opened our gifts on Christmas morning -- early!  I have to admit that my mother was usually the first one up.  She got excited about Christmas too!  The same is true in my house today.  We open gifts first thing in the morning.  However, I started a new tradition.  I always let my sons open one gift on Christmas Eve.  I would steer them toward something that was not clothing so the could play with it for the evening to help contain the excitement.

Another tradition that got started in my house was to have a Christmas Eve Soup Supper for our family and sometimes guests.  The soup is always accompanied by Beer Bread.  Christmas dinner, at my house, is always ham.  And, of course, plenty of homemade goodies -- pies, cookies, candy, fruitcake, etc.

I'm sure I am forgetting something but those are some of my memories.  I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!


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