Our Christmases used to be celebrated like everyone else’s. Our girls would hang their stockings on the fireplace mantle, make sure milk and cookies were out for Santa, then off to bed. My wife and I would then assemble the girls’ big items so they could play as soon as they got up. Getting up usually occurred around 6:30, with the girls running into our room, “Mommy! Daddy!. Let’s go see what Santa brought us.”. We would all go into the living room and open our stockings (Yes, my wife and I exchanged stocking gifts also), then the girls would start playing with their new toys or games. Fairly normal so far.
Well, one fateful Christmas Eve changed that. We got home from my father’s house a little late and by the time the stockings were hung, cookies put out and the girls safely tucked in, it was close to midnight. We still had to assemble their big gift – a Barbie Play House, one of those 3-story monsters with working elevator, plus other working features. I got started while my wife put up some coffee (We drink coffee at any time of day or night, and we sleep fine.) I opened the box and saw over 100 pieces of plastic and cardboard, along with an instruction booklet of 15 or 20 pages. I figured I was up until 1 AM or so. Then I opened the booklet – THE WHOLE THING WAS IN JAPANESE! Thank God, there were plenty of pictures, so eventually, with several words that are probably better not repeated, we got the house assembled and functioning. Unfortunately, it was 4 AM. See paragraph 1 for the time our darling daughters came bouncing in. That was a fun Christmas morning!?!
My wife and I decided, then and there, that next year was going to be different. The next Christmas, we still had the girls hang their stockings, but we told them that Santa was going to leave the stockings at the foot of their beds, and they could play with anything in the stockings immediately. We filled the stockings with time-fillers, coloring books, crayons, puzzles, small games, anything to give us an extra hour or so. It worked! We were able to sleep until nearly 8 AM, which was great. This continued until our girls got married. After that, their respective husbands took responsibility for their stockings.
There is another tradition that did not end when the girls left home. The due date for our first daughter was 12/25. We, naturally, had clothes, including pajamas for when we took her home. She decided to wait a while and was born on 12/31, New Year’s Eve. The next Christmas, we figured since she didn’t get to wear her Christmas pajamas last year, we would buy her new pajamas for this year. By the next Christmas, daughter number 2 had made her appearance and they both got new pajamas for Christmas. As each girl was born, the tradition continued. Now all four of them get new pajamas or nightgowns for Christmas. All of them are married with children of their own, but they still look for their new Christmas pajamas from Mom and Dad each year.
One year, after the first got married, we suggested that we buy pajamas for the single girls only. You would have thought we suggested canceling Christmas. So, we buy sleepwear for all four of them and will probably continue to do so as long as we are able.