Top 10 Things About Christmas

So as we were decorating the tree today my wife and I were talking about what Christmas traditions were our favorite. (Burnt out lights and hyperactive overly excited kids definitely weren’t in the top 10)

10. Light Watching. Come on, you do it too. Drive up in the rich neighborhoods to see all the lights. Here in Utah they go a bit nutso and several cities now have dedicated parks you pay to go into. I like driving through neighborhoods with Christmas tunes blaring but the dedicated parks never does it for me. But my wife loves them so here they go.

9. Playing in the snow. Big snow always seems to come right around the US Thanksgiving. (Being Canadian I have to make that caveat, given that ours is a month earlier) Winter is my favorite season by far and seeing snow makes me extremely happy. My son woke up this morning to the first snow of the season (as ski hills gave thanks) saying, “Daddy, It’s Christmas outside!” I can’t do as much now that I have small kids. (No ice climbing or regular jaunts for back country touring) But I still love it.

8. Hot Chocolate; Spice Apple Juice; Egg Nog. Yeah. The Christmas drinks. Sure you can have hot chocolate any time. But I do the real rich good chocolate with chocolate I make myself. Then I bring it to neighbors. Yum (I use our Madagascar chocolate which has a natural fruity taste)

7. Toy Displays. They don’t do this like they used to except in a few major places. But when I was a kid all the big stores like Sears and Eatons used to have pretty elaborate displays of toys – all functioning. In these days of big box retailers and the internet you don’t see it much anymore. Still, I love it when I see it.

6. Hiding Presents. I just love shopping for others. This year we’re getting new carpet thanks to a son who put a hose in the window well earlier this year. So not a lot of presents this year. But normally I just love trying to figure out the perfect present.

5. Singing Christmas songs. I love them all. Especially Elvis songs. Then I sing them like crazy. Especially Elvis songs which I sing suggestively to my wife. I love singing all these songs even if half the time I’m making up the words.

4. Food. My wife does the turkey thing although when I was younger it was always crepes and rice pudding for breakfast and ham for late afternoon. But it seems like I actually have time to cook with good ingredients and recipes over the holidays.

3. Presents. Yeah, it can’t be #1 but it has to be up there.

2. Putting out the presents. I always go way out in displays. Half wrapped. Half put on display like it was a fantastic toy store. (See #7)

1. The Christmas story. Yeah, you can’t forget the reason for the holiday. We always read Luke 2 Christmas Eve.

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16 thoughts on “Top 10 Things About Christmas

  1. Those are great favorites, Clark! I can’t say I like playing in the snow, and I get a little stressed out with figuring out presents, but I would add:
    making gingerbread houses,
    going to a Christmas tree lot and just breathing.
    seeing the shop windows downtown in the city,
    cookies. lots and lots of them.
    Carols. I could sing Christmas carols all year ’round.

    This is my children’s first Christmas in the USA. They’re 6 & 8 and I have it all planned. The real tree, the Nutcracker at the SF ballet, the neighborhood lights.

    I’m excited!

  2. No snow for me, thanks. I like:

    Decorating the tree, and turning all the lights off in the house at night to see it all lit up.

    Christmas dinner.

    Christmas lunch, which for us is sandwiches on the beach.

  3. Memories.

    That magic moment late on Christmas Eve when the only lights in the house are on the tree, and the only sound is soft, slow Christmas music.

    Memories.

    The sight of your cat or dog sitting in front of the tree, gazing silently and motionless up at the lights and shiny ornaments and making no move (for once) to bat them around.

    Memories.

  4. Oh Clark, I wish I could make hot chocolate from your chocolate!! YUM!

    For me, I love the way Christmas lights look in the snow- and after most of my life in California, I really love having snow where we live now. It’s snowing right now, as a matter of fact.

    Christmas Eve. The actual day is so much chaos, but the eve, after the kids are snuggled in, and the quiet settles down- it’s such a peaceful and somehow very FULL night. I just love it.

    Baking. I love baking all the Christmas goodies. Getting out great-grammas cookie recipes and teaching my kids how to measure flour and mix butter- it’s so fun.

    People. People are so nice to each other over Christmas. I wish we could all be more like this the rest of the time. I love neighbors being extra kind, people being generous, and sharing with other.

    Christmas Hymns
    . I don’t dig on the pop-holiday songs, but I love me some hymns. Deeply moving and sincere hymns make me cry, and I adore them.

    Homemade gifts. Nothing makes me happier than getting something handcrafted- or giving things I’ve made with my own hands. I adore making just the perfect thing for someone I love.

  5. I just love it all. The crowds, the bustling, the happiness, the family, the traditions, the singing, the snow, the hot chocolate. All of it. And it’ll be even better next year when I’ll live somewhere with the feeling of it as opposed to the “sweater & flip flop” place I’m living now!

    When I lived in Portland (my favorite place around Christmas time!) there was a store downtown (Meier & Frank?) that went over the top in decorating. Window displays, lights, etc. Up on the 10? floor they have a train ride up & running for the kids, Santa, all their Christmas decor littered the floor for sale. It’s wonderful.

  6. Thanks for this, Clark. I’m a big Christmas fan.

    Those drinks are augmented if they’re by a fire while it’s snowing outside. In general, Christmas to me means warmth and light in a time of cold and darkness.

    On carols, a Chicago Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich, wrote a column years ago about how people don’t sing Christmas Carols any more, and lamenting that. So her fellow columnist organized a public carol sing-along, with proceeds going to charity. I’ve been every year. It’s called Songs of Good Cheer, and it is done at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago (with wonderful folk musicians playing accompaniment and leading us in the singing). It’s great fun.

    I also sometimes sing in a Do It Yourself Messiah.

    Also, when you have young children, that moment on Christmas morning when they first see what Santa brought them–I used to live all year for that one moment (my kids are now boringly adult).

  7. – eggnog! For some reason it never appealed to me, then a year or so ago a brother-in-law revealed his passion for it, and now many the holiday party where I forego a meal and just drink eggnog, ha.

    – trees full of random homespun childhood made ornaments, in other people’s houses as well as my own. It’s just so cute and homey.

    – window displays downtown SF, it’s like a little (manageable) Manhattan feeling

    – we make these traditional Swedish yeast buns with saffron that are soooo good, and eat them on Christmas morning. Big fluffy s-shaped buns, with raisins. St. Lucia buns.

    – the look of kids when they come into the living room in the morning and see that Santa visited- it’s totally worth waking up for!

    – Christmas cards from long, far-flung relatives and friends. I just bought mine, and I’m excited to send them out, but I love getting tons of personal mail in my mailbox!

    – Drunken silly tree-trimming parties, when it’s cold outside and we’re all sitting around just being together!

    – I love carolling but I don’t really do it every year.

    – We “drive to snow”- and that’s usually the activity after Xmas. I love the smell of fireplaces when I’m in the street, and cold biting air in the morning. A California Christmas for me is that cold sea air feeling with a bit of frost on the plants- coming across a field with a light dusting of frost.

  8. My Children- everything from my 7 month old playing with wrapping paper, to my 4 year old being completely unable to not tell her mother what we got her for christmas.

  9. I somehow could never get excited about Christmas cards (sending or receiving). I’m forever forgetting to send them. (I feel the same about birthdays)

    I’m more mixed on carolling. I love to sing. Just in the privacy of my own home where my voice won’t be too embarrassing. (After all while my kids – 3 & 1 – think I’m a genius who ought to be singing at the Kennedy Center. But everyone else knows better)

    I agree drinks work best by a fire. Sadly we have only a gas fireplace and, due to the afore mentioned kids who like to throw things into it, have turned it off.

  10. Clark,

    Curse you and your unending supply of excellent chocolate!

    Have you gotten any more to Pirate-Os?

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