Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Like most other homes that celebrate Christmas, I grew up with many holiday traditions. We didn't have lots of money or give or receive lots of presents when we were little, but my parents still managed to create memories that I will always cherish.

On Christmas Eve I would always be awakened by the sound of a running vacuum. Always. That would be my dad preparing 12 hours in advance for the yearly party we would host on the evening of December 24. Once mostly awake, I'd be directed to the Pledge and a rag since it was my duty to clean all the side tables, the coffee table, and pretty much anything with a flat surface so that our house would be dust-free for the party. Sadly, it wasn't till I was older that I realized my mother, who was born on Christmas Eve, would spend her entire birthday in the kitchen preparing the meals for our celebration with 40+ guests. We stopped the December 24th party when she got sick and never resumed it after she passed away, but I think it takes a humble mom to create a festive atmosphere for family and friends on a day that should have been spent celebrating her.

But my mom's humility was counteracted by my dad's antics when it came time to sing Christmas carols. All our party guests would cram into our little living room, which necessitated an open front door for fresh air's sake. The printed list of songs and lyrics would go around, and my dad's show would begin. You see, he felt that caroling time needed an emcee and, as the host of the party, he was the natural choice. I suppose singing these Christmas songs would have been pleasant if they were sung normally, but not so with my father. Things pretty much got out of hand when my mom received a "12 Days of Christmas" bell collection one year. Those bells became props for the song and groups of people (assigned by my dad) would take turns singing their "day" and ringing their bell. But no one could really sing days 4,3, or 2 on their own because my dad would always chime in. Always. Whereas normal people would sing it like this:

"4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 Turtledoves..."

my father would sing it like this:

"4 calling cards, 3 French toast, 2 turtlenecks..."

Now imagine those words being sung with a heavy Filipino accent. Now imagine a roar of laughter from the crowd. Now imagine that same show year after year. Yep, that's my dad.

So it's probably been at least 17 years since my family's last Christmas Eve party. I must admit that I miss all the food, the joyous gathering of family and friends, and my dad's unique way of singing carols. Maybe I'll consider starting similar traditions for my own family. I'll have to make due without my mom's bell collection or my dad's accent, but I do have a vacuum and lots of Pledge. And that's how great Christmas memories begin.

[See World Vision's "12 Blogs of Christmas"]