It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas.

Here in our apartment. We spent part of yesterday un-boxing and setting up our Christmas tree and getting the lights strung and the decorations hung. It’s looking pretty good considering how beat up the poor thing is from being in storage.

Yes, we have an artificial tree. It’s almost a tradition really. I recall us having mainly artificial trees growing up with the occasional live one here and there. My mother has always preferred live trees, but the mess and expense usually kept us to artificial trees. When I moved out on my own it just seemed natural (if you’ll pardon the pun) to get an artificial tree. Every so often I consider getting a real one as the smell would be nice, but then I think of the needles that invariably drop to the floor and resolve to just buy some pine scent to spray on the fake one. Not the same, I know, but less painful when you step on the needles.

What’s particularly nice about getting the tree up this year is the fact that we’ve been proactive shopping-wise and actually had gifts to put underneath as soon as it was ready, which is quite the accomplishment for us. Usually the tree is up as much as a week before gifts start appearing under it’s branches. Here’s a couple of pics of our little beauty for your appreciation. As always, click on ‘em to get a bigger version.

Which brings me to a question I had for the rest of you folks out there. As usual when you get married there’s a melding of family traditions and customs, particularly about the holidays such as this one. When I was growing up my family used to place gifts under the tree as we got and wrapped them with the exception, of course, of what Santa would end up bringing on Christmas Eve. My wife’s family didn’t have any gifts under their tree until Christmas morning when they would all appear at once, family and Santa’s at the same time. The compromise here at our home is that gifts to extended family members show up under the tree until Christmas morning when the rest (immediate family and Santa) will show up. Personally, I wondered how they sat around dreaming about the packages if they didn’t show up until Christmas morning which my wife responded to by saying “We didn’t.” Duh. I should’ve thought of that. Anyway, I wondered if anyone else had variations on this as they were growing up. Did all your gifts show up beforehand or just some or none? I’m interested in hearing how other families’ Christmas traditions developed.

14 thoughts on “It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas.

  1. There were never any presents under our tree until xmas morning. It would have been too hard for all the kids we had in the house. Things would have been shook to death…lol
    I do not put anything under the tree until xmas morning here too. It’s just a tradition now to make the kids wait. smile

  2. Same as Kat. No presents under the tree until Santa brings ‘em. My kids are 17 and 14 and long past the Santa stage, and it would crush them not to wake up to presents. Hell, I put ‘em under the tree, and it would kill ME! smile

  3. What me and my family would do on Christmas eve is go to my dad’s Gomad’s house (that’s Italian for Godmother).  She and my dad’s Zizi (Great Aunt) would get us a bunch of expensive presents that my parents wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford with the rest of our gifts.  So we’d end up getting a bunch of really cool things on Christmas eve, as well as a great time with my Italian relatives before we’d go home to await the morning.

    As for the presents at home, we bought each other gifts that we’d keep under the tree.  My parents always kept “Santa’s” presents in her room, hidden, while they’d put the really big presents from them under the tree in advance.  This way, they wouldn’t make a lot of noise while moving the stuff, and they wouldn’t have to give Santa all the credit:).  We’d wake up in the morning with an enourmous bounty of presents under the tree.  I didn’t actually think that the giant mound of “stuff” under the sheet in my parents room was what we were getting for Christmas until later.

    After I found out the truth of St. Nick, and Zizi died, we’ve started just going to my Aunt Debbie’s house to see my dad’s family.  We still have a great time though.

  4. Our regular presents went under the tree as they were purchased and wrapped.  The Santa presents appeared Christmas morning. 

    I secretly busted my parents laying them out when I was five and snuck back to my room.  They had always told me that someday I would be too old for Santa to deliver presents.  I put two and two together and figured they what they meant was that someday I would find out that Santa wasn’t real and they would stop the presents.  I rode the gravy train for as long as I could.  To this day, I am not sure they realize how long I knew.

  5. Incidentally, I hate surprises.  I have known what was under the tree for me for over two decades.  I even buy my own gifts when Cindy and I go shopping.  Then I give them to Cindy to wrap, because I suck at that.

  6. Same as Joshman’s set-up basically.  My parents would put a lot of the gifts under the tree.  Most of ‘em were for me and my sister, but we’d also put gifts under there for my grandparents, who always came up for Christmas, and sometimes for my uncle too, when he came up.  Then my sister and I would spend the three weeks before Christmas poking and prodding the gifts, checking the tags to see who they were for, etc. etc. 

    Then we’d hang stockings up Christmas eve, and go to bed.  I always slept like crap, because I was so excited, but my parents still managed to come in and take a picture of me while I was sleeping, until I was about 14, and would wake up when I heard ‘em comin.  (They did the same thing to my Sis).  The pictures of the kids, with their hair all fucked up, and drool running onto the pillow, always made it into family slide shows within the next couple of days.

    Ah yes.  Christmas as a kid.  Can’t get that feeling back, but I remember it was sweeeeeeet.

  7. yeah, mixing traditions is tough, right down to food and gift opening, always keep an open mind, and remember, it’s yours and hers now, doesn’t matter what the old is, make it something wonderful between the two of ya. best of mixing luck.

  8. Before my Grandma passed, my mom’s side would always gather at her house on Christmas Eve for dinner and gifts, then on the morning the gifts from Santa would show up under the tree at home.  We had this tradition of where you could open one thing on Christmas Eve, but I don’t know how it got started.

    We put out the presents from family as they get wrapped, but the Santa stuff doesn’t go out until the night before. 

    My wife’s family has each person unwrapping a gift while everyone else watches and takes a picture. 

    Nowadays, we do Christmas at our house since we have the granddaughter, and the wife’s family comes up.  Gives us a little control over how we do stuff.

  9. Actually the mixing of the traditions hasn’t been all that tough. My wife is an excellent compromiser and usually comes up with a solution that I’m pretty happy with. Of the two of us I think I’m the more sentimental one and she manages to cater to my sentimental needs pretty well without ignoring her own. The holidays have always been a pretty big deal for me and I’m seriously enjoying making new memories.

  10. The holiday tradition that is the most different between our families is that our family passes out the presents Christmas morning to everyone, and we open them, one at a time, starting with the youngest (or oldest) person, and went around the circle until everything was open.  The wife’s family passes out the presents, then they all tear into them like starving wolverines.  The first year I just sort of sat there, stunned, adrift in a cloud of paper and ribbon.

    BTW, I’m going to get smacked for sharing this, so I hope you appreciate it.

  11. When I was a kid, we’d have smaller gifts under the tree up until Xmas Eve, and then the larger ones would “appear” Xmas morn. We tried to create this “tradition” in which everyone would get to open one small gift on Xmas Eve night, but it was mostly just done to pacify the kids.

    BTW, my boyfriend grew up with real trees (as did I), but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he was adamantly against an artificial one. I pointed out all the benefits (cost savings over time, less clean up, better quality “shape”), but nothing would change his mind, until… one Xmas I asked him if his parents bought trees for him every single Xmas. He said yes. I said, “So, that means you are singlehandedly responsible for the death of 34 trees?” We bought a fake tree that year.

  12. My experience was much like JoshMan’s as well.  My dad’s side (Italian) would get together Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house for the big seafood/pasta/wedding soup/cookie dinner, then one of my great uncles would dress up as Santa, drive over, and hand out a present to each kid (I believe our parents provided the presents).  We still get together at my aunt and uncle’s place, but now that my grandparents are gone and the kids are grown up, the night is more low key, and the parents just bring one present for each kid to open up.

    Over December the order of decorating usually goes: my dad sets up the outside lights while my mom puts out all the window and inside decorations; the next weekend we go find a live tree, then my dad sets that up with the lights and the star, and hangs the stockings; and the next weekend we help my mom decorate the tree with all the ornaments.  My brothers and sisters and I buy a present for each other; we used to wait until Christmas Eve to set them under the tree, but my sisters never learned patience so now they put them out as soon as they are wrapped.  The rest of the presents are from my parents (Santa), and always wait until Christmas morning to show up.  We take turns opening them one at a time, starting with the youngest.  Mostly so my parents can videotape the whole thing, they’ve always done that; I can remember when they used the old recorder, the kind that you have to use the projector to watch silent videos.

    That evening my mom’s side of the family gets together for dinner, the down-home American turkey/ham/roast with mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetables and pies type.  When I was young that used to be at my grandparents’ house, and none of us were allowed into the family room until after dinner, because there was a present under the tree for each of us.  But now that the family’s grown to the point where my grandmother has 40 grandchildren, we meet at a hall.  We do a gift exchange where all the grandchildren’s (my generation) names go in a hat, and we each pick one and buy a present for them.  Then one family at a time we open our presents after dinner.

    Sorry this is so long, just be glad you don’t have to live through it all wink  Now that I live on my own I don’t see any point to decorating, plus I’m too lazy to put things up, let alone take them down.  So I just go through all the family stuff.

  13. Now THAT is a BIG family!

    Grandpa takes a bow:  Thank you, thank you:bow:
    Grandma clouts Grandpa on the ear: You didn’t do it all by yourself, you mutt!:wink:

  14. No Shit!  Would you expect any less from a solid Catholic upbringing?  Thankfully I’m towards the older end (4th actually), so I can remember what normalcy was like….

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