Evolution of Christmas Traditions in My Life

For first time visitors to this blogmy name is Ann Lamphere, this is my story. I’m the adoptive parent of Kara Kay Lamphere Sansing.  I’m also an adoption social worker and have been the director of an adoption agency.

Christmas Break

Today, I’m taking a break from My Adoption Story.  It is 6 days until Christmas. How are you doing? Is Covid-19 doing a number on your holiday celebrations?

This year is going to be totally different for many people, my family included. The virus quarantine has made it so sad. We can’t visit family in Utah and they can’t visit us in Colorado.

Christmas has always been a time of joy and family activities. Every family has traditions that happen every year and cement our relationships. I used to say, “God help those people who join our family for the first time at Christmas.”

Our family’s first, very strong, tradition began with my mother. If she were still with us, she’d be 110 this year. (LOL) Her family celebrated on Christmas Eve with a huge dinner.

Gift giving occurred after the dinner. When mom was a child, gifts included new socks, an orange and a small pack of nuts. All these gifts were never wrapped.

By the time my sister was born, gift giving was still after dinner on Christmas Eve. The gifts were still few, but more personal and usually wrapped.  Have you ever seen what 70 year old gift wrap looked like?

I don’t know about you, but my first really strong memory of Christmas happened when I was 4 years old.  That’s when I found out that my mother was Santa Claus.

It was 1945. My dad was in the Army and stationed in Occupied Japan.  He came home in 1946, so Christmas was a little sad for me in 1945.

On Christmas Eve after dinner, my mom and Myra, my sister wanted to give me something good from Santa.  Myra took me to our bedroom to distract me while mom told Santa what we wanted.  Then I heard big boots trampling through the house.

When Myra was not paying attention, I ran out of the room.  Standing there by our tree with packages in her hands and my dad’s old boots on was my mother.  I was so disappointed, I just cried and cried, “There is no Santa Claus!” My poor mother couldn’t console me.

Until I was around 11 or 12 I had to pretend to my friends every Christmas that I believed in Santa. I’ve always felt that I missed something in those younger years; that wistful fairy land called the North Pole. But, I still love Christmas.

How do your traditions evolve with each new addition to your family? Ours for many years stayed pretty stable.  Even when my sister married my brother-in-law, Herman, we kept to the same routine: eat a huge meal, do dishes, open presents and attend a church service at midnight Christmas Eve.

Herman had never really celebrated Christmas when he married Myra. Our family gave him a set of traditions he never had.  He was pretty overwhelmed by everything because we spoiled him with lots of presents, big and small.

We pretty much held on to our fun times, even when Myra and Herman had their sons.  We somehow convinced them that Santa had too much to deliver on Christmas Eve, so he visited their home early and had the family hide their gifts. The picture below is like a train one of the boys received for Christmas.

Because we celebrated on Christmas Eve, everyone got to sleep in on Christmas Day. As kids my sister and I played with our toys and let our parents sleep in. Myra and Herman’s boys did the same for them.

A tradition that began with the boys is how to make the kids crazy.  We would hide the present and put the location note in a box under the tree.  Watching them do the treasure hunt was so much fun.

We also loved wrapping presents in various ways. One time there was a snowman covering a box of dishes. Sometimes the box would be big with several smaller boxes inside each other; the smallest one would either have a tiny gift or a note about the real present.

When the boys were older and started their own families, they had to deal with both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions of the other families. Most of the time the boys spent Christmas Eve with us and Christmas Day either at home with their growing families or with their wives’ families. Those grandkids made off like bandits with double the gifts.

Gifts Snowflakes Packages Blue Christmas Fir Pine Bokeh Snow

When my daughter, Kara was at home, celebrating the holidays was a bit of a struggle.  She never understood Christmas.  I think that she was not used to the family gatherings and may have been overwhelmed with all the gift giving and noise.

The 4 Christmases she spent with me before she married, were some of the most stressful times of my life.  She always started a fight, either with me or my mother or she would start screaming until no one enjoyed themselves.

Christmas dinner

Christmases returned to our traditional celebrations after Kara was no longer in the picture. Our special dinners included a ham, a pot roast and/or a turkey.  The sides included stuffing, apple and banana salad, deviled eggs, and (for the last 20 years) green bean casserole. The pies were pumpkin and apple.

We always made enough food for an army. Everyone took home leftovers for the next week. Since we’ve been in Colorado, we’ve not made all that much food.  There are 4 of us here and since the quarantine is in full blast, that number is still just going to be 4. Maybe more next year.

Red Jeep

Do you have any favorite Christmas presents? I can remember a few from my childhood. Everybody laughs when I tell them 2 of my favorites were a red Jeep with a working steering wheel and a functional dump truck. My nephews played with that Jeep until it gave up the ghost.

Of course I received dolls and some of them were really special. One year my sister and I received a set of twin dolls. Mom made several outfits for them and my dad made us a set of bunkbeds.  Another year I got a baby doll; Kara played with that doll the first year she arrived.

I have always loved my toys.  My grand-nephew, Jeff asked what I wanted for Christmas this year.  I said an Amazon gift card.  He growled and said he hated giving gift cards. So I gave him my wish – I wanted a Baby Yoda doll!! He laughed so hard.  I’m not sure what he has for me but it should be interesting. 

What I’m wishing is that you all have a Christmas full of positive traditions and memories.

Merry Christmas

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