Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family traditions on Christmas Day chez the Iles family

This edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is looking at our family traditions concerning the holidays.

I thought I'd share what I would call a traditional Iles Christmas day.

Christmas time was always a busy time when you were in the grocery business and for my parents Christmas Eve often meant working very late and then settling up accounts after the store was closed.

These memories will have to be from when we were living on the west side of town as I can't remember much about Christmas from my early childhood. I don't recall our family being one to get up extremely early on Christmas morning. Usually which ever the children was awake first, would get the other two up to go downstairs if it was a reasonable hour. Mom and dad would here us come down. After we built the addition to the house, they slept on the main floor of the house in the family room.

We only opened the gifts that we received from Santa before breakfast. Then we ate breakfast. I honestly don't remember whether we ate anything special on Christmas morning. Once everything was cleaned up and we were all dressed we could open our Christmas gifts that were piled under the tree. If Christmas fell on a Sunday morning, we would go to church and the gift exchanging would not happen until after lunch.

My dad acted as Santa and looked after digging the gifts from under the tree. Each person would receive a gift and open it before anyone else would get one. Usually, there was a special gift for my mother from my dad; it would always be given to her last. Sometimes, it would be not under the tree and not brought out until it was time.

Once all the gifts were open, it was time clean up. First wrapping paper that was reusable was pressed down flat and folded and any boxes that were good were kept. We'd organize the gifts to put them on display. A list was made of what each one received and from whom, to aid in writing the appropriate thank you letters.

Many years we did not have the big traditional turkey dinner. That would wait until Boxing Day when we were better rested.

After my brother got married, the one thing that was changed in the gift giving routine was that the gifts were passed out and each would have a pile by them. Still, only one gift could be opened at a time.

When we have our gift exchange at a time other than the traditional time, it just didn't seem right. Now it is very rare to have what I call my traditional Christmas day and I have grown to get used to that too.

Another thing we liked to do on Christmas Day was to listen/watch the Queen's Christmas message. We also enjoyed the Christmas programming on television. I still do.

When my nephews and niece were little we had a birthday cake for Jesus.

I am not sure what my Christmas plans are but I am sure I will spend some time with family.

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