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Leaves From My Family Tree

Family Traditions

Every Christmas, we celebrated Christmas Eve at home, then on Christmas Day we visited both sets of grandparents.

After dinner on Christmas Eve, Mom, Dad, and the five of us kids would pile into the car, and then we would take a drive around town to look at all of the Christmas lights. When we returned from the drive, Santa Claus had always been there while we were gone. Nobody ever questioned why Dad had to go back into the house for several minutes after everybody was in the car and ready to go.

The Christmas when I was six years old, Dad was sick and couldn't make the drive with us to see the Christmas lights. Poor Dad had to stay home in bed. That was the year that Santa brought Brother Bill an electric train, and set it up under the Christmas tree. It amazed me that Santa could have been there and Dad hadn't heard him. That year Santa had even kicked a bit of the charcoal out of the fireplace onto the hearth on his way down/up the chimney.

When my younger brother Bill was old enough to have guessed the Santa Secret, he and I were allowed to help Dad while Mom and the three younger children were waiting in the car.

On Christmas Day, we would have the special treat of having a pancake breakfast at the local Cafe, then leave on the hour-plus drive to see the extended family.

First, we would visit Dad's family at the home of his parents. Grandmother Pip would have treats for us - I especially remember the year she made Creme Puffs. I had never had them before, and I marveled at the puffy confection. Aunts and uncles and cousins would be there. After lunch we would exchange Christmas gifts.

In the afternoon we went to Mom's childhood home. Again, the house would be filled with aunts and uncles and cousins. After Christmas dinner we were once again gathered around the tree exchanging gifts.

When I asked one year why we visited Dad's family in the morning, and Mom's in the evening, I was told it was because Aunt Anna and Uncle Paul had to milk the cows before leaving their farm, so we had Christmas dinner after they had finished their chores and had driven to Portland.

© 2001 Dianne McRae   Graphics by Shawna