Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas past. Christmas present. Christmas future.

Christmas: 1986
I love Christmas!
Here's one more nostalgic post for this year.

Memories of Christmases past,
the celebration of Christmas present,
and the hope for Christmas future.

Christmas morning: 1997

Christmas past.
- Newark, Delaware

- cold

- The question: "can we come down yet?" and the answer from mommy and daddy's voice,  "Nope. Not yet!"

- annual sibling picture on the staircase before we were allowed to come down

- the annual argument that my younger siblings didn't want me to get a shower and get ready before the picture... "Come on! Stay in your PJ's Elizabeth, it's Christmas!"

- the piles of presents - Mommy and Daddy indicated to the four of us which one was ours.  Many years there was usually one larger gift hiding somewhere behind a couch...

- The eyes of my younger siblings growing larger with each step closer to the presents!

Another staircase picture.  Christmas morning: 2001
Christmas 2012
- the smell of cinnamon rolls, the delight of mommy's breakfast casserole, the colors of fresh fruit... and in later years, the Christmas china that Mommy collected over the years...

- My brother Mark always rummaging through his gifts faster than any of us - nearly finished before Jennifer had opened any of hers!  Always telling him to wait for his sisters :-)

- A couple of years, the Wilson kids were organized enough and in the same location long enough to have a Wilson Christmas Concert. Mark on trumpet or cello, Jennifer and Natalie on violin and taking turns on the piano, Elizabeth on piano and guitar.  Yeah, that only happened a couple of years- but I'm guessing it was perhaps one of the most memorable gifts we gave our parents.

- Daddy giving Mommy a Christmas sweater, and the Christiana mall gift certificates - good for any store in the mall.  That was the gift from him to her for as many years as I can remember.

 - a fire going in the fireplace (much to Daddy's initial frustration and Mommy's pleading :-)

 - Mommy in her red sweater or her red robe, and her cup of tea, always.  And notice Grandmother's bracelets around her wrist.

- Daddy collecting every little bit of Christmas wrapping paper almost before it touched the ground - either to go in the fire, or in a big trash bag.

- Elizabeth taking pictures and video, and then being reminded she also needed to open presents.

- At some point we started a Christmas Eve tradition of the siblings exchanging presents with each other... there was always some debating about this, whether it was the kids were supposed to also give their gifts to Mommy and Daddy, or whether or not Elizabeth was going to participate in giving her gifts to everyone... I can't exactly remember... I'm sure my sisters and brother know for sure :-)

- Always one or two presents forgotten or lost somewhere with the, "I know we got you one more thing, but it's not here..."- finding it the next day or a week later.
Christmas 1983: See closer-up pic below for the names of everyone

- Packing up the car with homemade ornaments and Mommy's cinnamon bread for gifts for the aunts, uncles and cousins

- Heading to Grandmother and Grandfather's house - sometimes in the snow.  Most times just in the cold.

- At Grandmother's house: Ham, and a mixture of salad and jello options. Snowflake rolls from Bing's Bakery on Main Street.  Punch in a glass punch bowl (see it in the pictures).  Uncle Bob's smoked turkey.

- Catching up with cousins...I'm number #42 or something out of near 100 cousins on that side of the family.

Front row kids left to right: Mark Betters, Chrisalyn
Voshell, Seth Watts, Jill Voshell, Daniel Betters,
Chrisopher Watts.
Back row: Jaret Voshell, Grandfather,
Chuckie Betters, baby Elizabeth Wilson, Daniel Watts,
baby Roberta Watts, Heidi Betters, Grandmother
- The Lewis family was always there because they stayed at Grandmother and Grandfather's.  We always had Christmas Eve dinner with them for many many years- Grandfather bringing shrimp and Uncle Bob bringing some kind of meat from out West (literally, it was bear or elk, or something like that!)

- The Betters clan arriving later each year, with what seemed like twice as many family members as the previous year.

- The Jim Watts family included my cousin Roberta - and my best friend.  Even on Christmas, I'm sure we were planning our next sleep-over.  "You talk to your mom..."  "You talk to your mom first, then I'll talk to mine..."
Christmas 2005: Left to right: Aunt Gayle,
Ellie Brown, Jill Brown (Voshell) holding Isaac, Dorie standing next to her.
Jill Watts holding Noah, Andrew and Laura Lewis next to her.
Seth Watts, Natalie Wilson, Daddy, Danielle Nequist, Abby Nequist.

- The Voshell family included Jaret - a cousin a couple of years older, and always teasing us along with Daniel (Roberta's brother), but somehow we looked up to them more than any other cousins!

- The Dosa family - usually they weren't present at Christmas... off in another country, or the "country" of Texas... but there were always gifts from them that arrived the week before.

- The Ralph Watts Jr. family - occasionally a few of them would be there... but their family had grown so large by the time I could talk, they usually stayed in Ohio and had their own Christmas there.

2012: my last Christmas with Grandfather.
- Exchanging gifts - All in the same room - I don't remember actually seeing the floor as it was covered with cousins, and the cracks were filled in with tissue paper.  As the years went on, the family multiplied, so the gift-exchanging happened in multiple rooms simultaneously.

- Everyone was there.

- There was no sadness, no pain, no heartache...

- I didn't miss anyone.  Because there wasn't anyone to miss.
Christmas night: 2006(?)
Left to right: Emily, Emmerson holding Nolan, Evan,
Elizabeth, Joshua, Erica holding Hannah.
Natalie and Devon in front, and Mark behind the couch

- After lunch at Grandmother and Grandfather's, we drove down the road to Grandma and Grandpa's house where we landed for the rest of the evening.

- Eat again and open more presents.

Christmas night: 2012
Left to right: Devon, Emily, Jennifer, Natalie, Elizabeth, Mark
- Catching up with the Wilson cousins (I'm the first grandchild on that side of the family with 12 of us total).

- Everyone gave everyone gifts until a few years ago when we drew names.

Christmas past: The night always ended full of joy accompanied by more memories than one can count and more food than one's stomach can hold.

Christmas present.
- St. Cloud, Florida

- warm (70 degrees or more!)

- quiet

Christmas Day: 2014: My second Christmas as a
married woman.  Here we are
with Jason's parents and grandmother.
- fewer people (just Jason and me until about 1pm, and then only 3 more people added after that.  That's still less than just my immediate family...and of course not nearly as many as those Christmases at Grandma and Grandpa's or Grandmother and Grandfather's house)

- simple

- quick.  2 people opening 2-3 gifts only takes about 15 minutes.

- no breakfast casserole or cinnamon rolls (I made them last year for Jason's grandmother since she was with us, but we decided to do homemade gluten free waffles this year...I'm already thinking of cinnamon rolls for next year :-)

- ham, my mom's pretzel salad, mashed potatoes (my mom's too:-), rolls, green beans, a Christmas tablecloth, candles, punch in a glass bowl (recently given to us by my parents!), and my Great Grandmother's china (my dad's grandmother!)

- sitting on the back porch enjoying the sun, trying to figure out if it's really the month of December.

- missed Grandfather.  And Grandmother. A lot. And missed being with my family.

- But, my in-laws were at our home, and it is a delight to share Christmas with family, even if it's not my immediate family

Christmas present: The night ended with slightly less childhood awe and wonder, but still with a thankful heart.

Christmas future.
- Florida, Delaware, Virginia, somewhere else

- with my husband Jason.... sometimes with my family, and sometimes with Jason's family...

- gifts, or maybe we will find other ways of celebrating and remembering the greatest Gift of All: Jesus

- children of our own?  Or no children?  I wonder what the Lord will do.

Christmas future:
I anticipate that the nights will end with
higher joys,
deeper sorrows,
and wider grace
than in any Christmases past.

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