It's funny. For years I've been trying to figure out how to get the "feeling" of Christmas just the way I remember it as a kid. Early on, we went to my grandparents' house for Christmas, and that tradition remained pretty constant with only a few interruptions here and there.
It was a blast. Sometimes it would just be my parents, brothers, and the two grandparents. But for the most part, we had cousins, aunts, and uncles around, too. The kids would goof off, run around the house, and play make believe in the crawl space next to the basement. If we got cool toys, we'd bust 'em out and have a grand old time. For my brother and myself, though, we generally got video games. Without having the system nearby to actually play.
Can't forget the food, though. It was a lot of food. And SUPER tasty. And we always had Egg Nog and apple cider, too. Two of my favorite drinks as a kid.
But none of those really stand out as my favorite Christmas.
I can't remember the year, but the company my dad owned had a job in Little Rock that needed to start setting up on December 26. So we rolled into Little Rock on Christmas Eve. We were going to check into the hotel and have a relaxed evening as a family, open presents, and then spend Christmas day doing fun stuff wherever we could actually find something to do.
But my mom got sick. Super sick. We thought she had strep, which was bad because she's DEATHLY allergic to anti-biotics. She'd been sick for a few days, and when we thought she was getting better, her fever spiked and my dad had to rush her to the hospital, leaving my brothers and me at the hotel (we were old enough to be left alone...older than any babysitter that might've been hired). Turned out, she had an ear infection (bad, but not as serious as strep) that they treated with a combination of anti-biotics and a MASSIVE dose of anti-histimen under serious medical supervision.
When my mom was feeling well enough to leave the hospital (only a few hours later), we all hopped into the truck to find some place for dinner, or fun, or something. I can't really remember. What I do remember was being together, laughing at A Very Veggie Christmas, the first VeggieTales Christmas album.
I think that was the year I got my first leather jacket (brown suede, which I still have but doesn't fit). Aside from the event that my dad was working, I don't remember a lot about the rest of the trip, though. Still, more than any other Christmas as a kid, that one stands out as FEELING very Christmas-y.
New traditions are something my wife and I are building as we get older. This is our eighth Christmas as a married couple (our ninth anniversary is next Wednesday), and we're still figuring things out. We like the traditions we have, and it's becoming more and more fun, cozy, and something we look forward to. And some day I hope to look back and say I have a new favorite Christmas. One that I remember more vividly than the last one.