The Beauty of My Grandma’s Christmas Past Tradition
I have a large extended family, a number of whom are centered in the Midwest. Growing up, my maternal grandparents’ home was where we celebrated Christmas. My family with my siblings, my aunts and their husbands, and eventually my cousins when they came along. The tree was decorated with much of the same decorations it had been since the 1960s, Grandpa used his camcorder to film the tree… up and down… up and down… side to side to memorialize the mountain of presents that would be for upwards of twelve or fifteen people.
Opening presents Christmas morning was an epic event. We went one at a time so each present could be appreciated and fawned over, and for Grandpa or one of the dads could film/photograph their kids receiving the things they wanted. Part of the fun was what my grandma called her “Christmas Past.”
Christmas Past was in essence my grandma regifting things, but things that were at her house that already belonged to you. It was a way for her to clear out a few things, not spend more money, and allow her family to relieve some memories.
One year for Christmas Past I got a padfolio I had used when I was in kindergarten learning to write that was filled with some of my early stories. I knew at that young age that I wanted to be a writer, and receiving that gift when I was fourteen or so amused my parents and reminded me of that goal.
My mom and her sisters would receive swimming trophies from their teen years. Or my dad and uncles would get books or photos they’d had conversations about years before. Sometimes we’d get toys my mom and aunts had played with at our age. Once my mom got a beloved toy gifted to her at a young age from a family friend.
Every gift was met with a wave of emotions as those memories returned. Every Christmas Past gift meant a pause in our festivities to tell the story it was involved with, or to show it off to the family members too new to know the history behind it. We always looked forward to those Christmas Past gifts as a way to knit our family even closer together.
Maybe you’ll want to try a Christmas Past tradition with your family, bringing to mind happy memories and giving items back that will continue to offer joy.