Monday, December 29, 2014

Tell Me Your First Christmas Memory

On Christmas Day, we were sitting around Matt's aunt and uncle's house with tummies that had consumed too much dessert, and his uncle posed an interesting question: At what age do you remember your first memory?

There were about five of us sitting together in a little cluster, and our group's answers ranged from age three to five. He moved on to another group to ask the same question, and we started telling each other what our first memories actually were.

My sister and I are small (I am probably three or four), and my mom babysits a little girl named Lacey, and the three of us play together sometimes. I am at a party at Lacey's house — maybe her birthday party, or maybe a New Year's party her parents are throwing. I can't remember anything specific about the party, but the room is kind of blue-tinted and dark and gold-sparkly.

As we were wrapping up this discussion, Matt's uncle called the entire room's attention. He said that since it was Christmas, he'd like us to go around the room and share our first Christmas memories, and also our most memorable Christmases. Because if you don't share those things, maybe those memories of your siblings and parents and loved ones will eventually be lost without you ever having learned what your family holds dear.

It was a beautiful sentiment, and in a room full of 30-40 people, there were some really wonderful moments that we got to share. Memories about relatives that are no longer with us, and new children being welcomed unexpectedly early, and the toys or gifts — both given and received — that made an enormous impact.

My sister and I are sitting on the fireplace. I am crying because I know Santa isn't going to bring me anything this year, because I have been bossy and mean all year. We are wearing matching pink floral nightgowns. My sister tells me that she'll share her presents with me.

My sister and I are in a Christmas play. It's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and we are angels. It's A Christmas Carol, and we are children shopping with our mother, who is not played by our real mother. It's Babes in Toyland and my mom is a toy soldier, I am a fairy, and I know my sister was in it too, but I can't remember what character she played because the only photo I have of her from that show is her in full stage makeup and her street clothes, enormous glasses, playing on the barre of the theater's dance studio.

I have no Christmas memories that don't begin with "my sister." And I didn't realize how profound and important that was to me until someone asked.

My sister and me going to see The Nutcracker this year.

Tell me about your Christmas memories. What is your first? What is your favorite?


  1. That's a great idea--reminiscent of the 'what are you grateful for' thing at Thanksgiving but a lot less pressure. I'll have to remember this for next year :)

    My earliest and favorite Christmas memories are the same: I was young (3-5 age range, as that's when we lived with Grandma) and the rule was you couldn't go to the tree until all the adults were up but you could go and get your stocking off the banister. So I was the first one awake Christmas morning and I climbed out of bed, padded down the hall to the banister, got my stocking down and took it back to bed with me. It was daylight already and the sun was coming in my window, dappling my Bambi bedspread with the white fringe trim, and I remember at the top of my stocking was an envelope and inside it were a couple sets of barrettes from my aunt :)

  2. Aw, I love that! We did stockings when we were very young, but that tradition kind of fell by the wayside as we got older.

  3. I know you wrote this a while ago, but I wanted you to know that it's been in the back of my mind ever since. I never wrote a comment because I honestly don't know what my earliest memory is. I just remember different scenes of things, but I don't always know how old I was at the time, you know?

    One of my favorite Christmas memories is going downtown Chicago on Christmas Eve and eating dinner as a family at our favorite Italian restaurant. We did it every year since I can remember. My parents said we started going when I was around 4 years old, and we still to this day eat Maggiano's on Christmas Eve for dinner, although we often get takeout from the restaurant in Dallas. (Thank goodness there's a place in Dallas!)

    After dinner we would drive to Lincoln Park Zoo and walk around and see the Christmas lights. It was always freezing, and we would run across the park and huddle in a Starbucks on the corner and drink hot chocolate and caramel apple cider. I really miss those days sometimes.

  4. We still do stockings! :) All of the siblings now get together and each buy 2-3 things for Mom and Dad so they can have full stockings too!

  5. That's a really sweet thing to do for your parents! Might have to steal that...

  6. I don't know how old I was for that party memory, and I kind of don't want to ask. I'm afraid that if I do, my mom will give me a lot of details and the magic sparkly-ness of it will be ruined. Or she won't remember it at all and will think I made it up.