My family tradition normally starts with pulling out our ornaments the day after Thanksgiving to see what theme we are going to have. One year it was Victorian, one year African, one year Navy and Silver.(We take our themes seriously).We may have to go out to Garden Ridge and pick up additional ornaments or pick out a Christmas theme. (They have the best and largest assortment of ornaments.)
Once we have a theme, we go to the Christmas tree farm or road side seller and pick out a fluffy Fraser Fir. The needles are short and thick, and the branches are kinda limber and waxy feeling. While the merchant prepares the tree, we partake of spicy cider or hot chocolate. They load the tree. Even on the roof, the crisp scent of pine is putting everyone in the Christmas spirit. We get the tree home, I ramble in my desk drawer and pull out the Christmas Mix CD I made, the one everybody loves. The first song has to be The Temptations singing, "Merry Christmas." There is something about hearing Eddie Ruffin singing that song, "In my mind, I want you to be free" which makes it "officially" Christmas. It like being on Wall Street and having the bell rung. We all sing parts of the song pretending to be the Temptations (LOL!). My favorite parts are the high parts, which I butcher, but, by the end of the song nobody cares. We are all in the spirit.
By this time, have the Christmas tree in the stand, even though my sister is complaining that it's crooked. (but she NEVER gets down there and messes with those hard ass screws which have to be screwed into the trunk of the tree...by hand and yes the tree moves a bit!) . Yes, I am salty behind that. I mean, here she is, sitting up eating sweet potato pie and drinking Michelob Ultra while I'm slaving away under that tree...Just because she's the eldest and I am the youngest doesn't mean I'm her slave! "I'm a grown woman with a child of my own...Okay I've said too much, lets just move on. (LOL)
By the time the tree is up, Michael Jackson has seen his momma "Kissing Santa Claus", James Brown has begged Santa to, "Go Straight to the Ghetto", and The Emotions have asked, "What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?" Yes we love a soulful Christmas. After the tree is up, we go to the classics. Aaron Neville croons "Please come home for Christmas." and we all ask, "Whatever happened to Aaron Neville? Somebody says, "He's still alive." (LOL) and I lament over how I had such a big crush on him when I was a girl. They all make fun of that before going to the next thing. The lights are half the way up by the time Otis Redding is singing " Merry Christmas Baby." At that point we are all sitting on the couch or the floor cause, lets face it, we are tired and need a food break.
We go get plates of Thanksgiving left overs and nuk them in the microwave, I have to "touch" the collard greens to make sure they are heated all the way through because I HATE sitting down and finding out my collard greens have a cold spot :-) By now I've put on Nat King Coles "Christmas song". Everybody gets all quiet because you have to listen to Nat with "Reverence" it's tradition! By the end of that song (because it is a long song), we are all having slices of sweet potato pie or my famous Rum cake. The "Itis" is trying to set in and we are only part of the way through. Somebody has turned on a TV, someone has gotten a call/text and leaves the room. That's when you have two groups left: the kids and the "Die-Hard" Christmas traditionalist. We NEVER say die.(LOL)
Eartha Kitt comes on purring "Santa Baby" and both groups get into it. what girl doesn't like " a little decoration bought at Tiffany". I've hit my decorating stride by the time Lena Horne walks us through a "Winter Wonderland". We are putting those silver hangers on the ornaments when we realize we have more ornaments then we do hangers! Some kid with true grit, goes on recon for paper clips. The kid comes back with enough for the rest of the ornaments thus saving the day and earning them the right to put the angel on top of the tree.
By the time all of the ornaments are on and the lights are on. The kids and the "Die Hards" are making such a ruckus, the stragglers come back in. One of them ALWAYS wants to move an ornament because there are "Too many on that branch." so they go about moving it a mear two branches over, where it is still, in my humble opinion ( IMHO) too close to the others, but, we let it slide because, although they have been laid up on their cell phones for an hour drinking Michelob Ultra instead of doing any real work, we will let them have this moment, because it's family, and we are just happy they were able to make it this year. The angel goes on top of the tree as Nancy Wilson asks "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?". Someone wants to know why the angel has on a leopard printed dress trimmed in fur and is holding a fan made out of feathers. I reply, "Because it's MY angel and I think she looks awesome! If you want something else, buy it yourself and put it on YOUR tree." Every body looks around and somebody brings me a glass of egg nog and pats me on the back to pacify me because I am the baby of the family, and they know I am tired and about to get out on the ledge.
Luther comes on singing, "Have Your Self a Merry Christmas" and we all laments on how he died too soon while looking at our amazing tree. Somebody says something about going to the mall or to the movies. We all start getting ready to go. I am the last to leave, I grab the last slice of sweet potato pie(because I deserve it!), look at the tree one more time, with pride, and head on out.
That's my family tradition or at least that's how it usually happens. It's all about the music with us. Fun, family and stories shared. I guess that's why Christmas is my favorite holiday. Stay tuned to my blog. I will share our cooking traditions! I'm still living down that time I put "Craisins" in my momma's, dressing!
~Gynger Fyer~ The Romance Arsonist!